Brevard, N.C. - Brevard College Athletic Director Juan Mascaro is pleased to welcome back Norm Witek and Thomas Cason as the duo who will lead the Tornados Cross Country and Track programs.
"I’m thrilled to have two coaches with the experience they have at Brevard College, and I believe our student-athletes will be well-served" commented Mascaro. "It is an exciting time for the Tornados cross country and track programs, and we look forward to the success our teams will have in the future."
Witek and Cason take over the program for Coach Jack Daniels, who left Brevard College earlier this summer to return home to Flagstaff, Ariz. to pursue other interests and endeavors.
Norm Witek will assume the role of Director for Cross Country and Track, returning to the Tornados athletic department as the most successful cross country and track coach in program history. Thomas Cason returns to Brevard after a two year run as the Head Men's and Women's Cross Country coach at Lees-McRae and will assume the same position with the Tornados.
No stranger to success, Norm Witek's previous coaching experience at Brevard saw the Tornados winning 13 consecutive Region X Cross Country Championships from 1968-1981, as well as Region X Track champions in 11 of the 13 years, until Region X was dissolved in 1981.
The Tornados also won four consecutive National Junior College Cross Country Championships from 1982-1985, and he was a three-time National Junior College Coach of the Year in Cross Country. The Tornados also won their first National Championship (and first for Brevard College) in the Marathon in 1982 under Witek.
During his time with the program, the Tornados had 116 All-Americans in track and cross country, as well as three individual Cross Country National Champions. In 1990, Witek was recognized for his accomplishments and was elected into the NJCAA Hall of Fame. Norm has also been elected to the Brevard College Athletic Hall of Fame, as well as the Lyons Township High School Hall of Fame in LaGrange, IL.
As a result of his success in coaching, he developed the Brevard Distance Runners Camp into one of the largest cross country camps in the United States, serving and instructing over 1,400 student-athletes and coaches in three one week sessions each July.
Adidas has also honored Witek for his contributions to the sport by naming a shoe after him and one named after the town of Brevard. The "Witek" shoe was sold exclusively in Europe and the "Brevard" was Adidas' best-selling running shoe for five plus years.
In addition to his coaching career, Witek has been active at Brevard College, wearing many hats including Athletic Director (1981-1987), Division Chair (1981-1987), Dean of Students (1987-1993 and Chair of the Faculty Council (2000-2002). Currently he serves as a professor in the Exercise Science department, as well as the Coordinator for P.E. Licensures. He also currently serves on the Tenure and Promotion Committee, Faculty Council and has served as the Faculty Marshall since 2000.
Witek is also active in the Brevard community, serving as a volunteer coach in church league basketball, tee ball, recreation soccer and middle school soccer and cross country. He also served as the Chair for Discipline and Sports for the Transylvania Youth Soccer Association.
Cason is in his 14th year of coaching at the collegiate level, 10 of which have been spent as a head coach. He guided both the men's and women's teams to runner-up team finishes in the 2011 Conference Carolinas Championships.
Cason also served as the Assistant Track and Field Coach with the Bobcats, with his primary duties focused on the distance events. He also worked with in the classroom at Lees-McRae, serving as an adjunct professor and teaching Physiology of Sport and Exercise each fall semester.
The Greenville, S.C. native began his coaching career at Furman University, where he spent three years as the assistant under legendary coach Gene Mullin working with both cross country and track and field athletes.
After Furman, Cason guided the women's cross country program at Davidson College for three years. At Davidson, Cason rebuilt a women's distance program from the bottom of the Southern Conference to a top contender. After Davidson, Cason spent a year starting a new cross country program for Montreat College.
During Cason's previous coaching stint at Brevard College, he spent four years as the Head Cross Country and Track and Field coach. While at Brevard, Cason coached three NAIA national qualifiers in cross country, and two national qualifiers in track. He also coached one NAIA Academic All-American, and his women's cross country team recorded the highest team GPA for four consecutive years.
Cason was born in Greenville, S.C. and attended J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, where was a three time all-State cross country runner. Cason also won the 3A State Championship in both the 1600m and 3200m his senior year.
Cason then went on to Furman University on a cross country/track and field scholarship. While at Furman, Cason earned all-Southern Conference honors in cross country, track (3000m Steeplechase), in addition to being named to the Academic Honor Roll. Cason went on to receive both his Bachelor's degree in Health and Exercise Science, as well as his Masters degree in Education (with an emphasis in Health and Exercise Science) from Furman University.
Cason also serves as a senior staff member each summer for the Brevard Distance Runners Camp, working with over 1000 high school runners. Cason is a USA Track & Field Level 1 and Level 2 (Endurance) coach. He is still an avid runner on the roads and the trails. His hobbies include running, cycling, swimming, carpentry, and spending time on trails with his dog Daisy.
"We want to recruit people who want to become better, work hard, put their mileage in during the summer, they’re going to believe in us, get that tradition back to where it used to be. We want to bring back the excitement, purpose back to the program. This is a whole different ball game and there’s a growth period and maturity that comes with the program."
"I wouldn’t have been here coming into my 45th year at Brevard if I didn’t believe in the institution. I’ve taken the same kind of attitude when it comes into my teaching. When you become a teacher and coach, you become a better coach, a better teacher and we hope it will carry over as we bring back respect to the program. We’re both strength-oriented coaches and we look forward to taking the runners out and spending a lot of time in both Pisgah National Forest and Dupont, and helping the athletes develop their strength."
"This is one of the best running areas in the country and my passion is running. This is just where you want to be with the cool weather, the trails and mountains, the national forests. You can spend a lot of time running on soft surfaces and this area is great to train and utilize the natural beauty of the place."
"With Coach Witek and myself, there’s a lot of experience with the staff and great tradition at the college, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to come back to Brevard. This is a place I know, with friends and family around, this is where I want to be. When you’re happy where you’re at, it comes through in your work and passion. Being here, I feel blessed."