Brenau Track Coach Plants ‘Seeds’ for Newest Intercollegiate Sport

Brenau University named Dr. Richard Ludwig of Gainesville, Ga., as the first coach for its newest intercollegiate sport, track and field.

Ludwig, a horticulturalist and educator by profession, for four years was a standout in the long jump and triple jump under legendary University of Georgia Coach Spec Towns and was captain of the Bulldogs’ team his senior year. For two years he stayed on as an assistant under Coach Lewis Gainey, who in 1976 and ’77 led the Bulldogs to back-to-back Southeastern Conference championships.

Brenau Golden Tigers' first track coach Rick Ludwig gets credit as a Georgia Bulldogs team captain and assistant coach for helping nurture a future Olympian and world-class high jumper.

Brenau announced that it would launch the intercollegiate track and field program as its ninth Golden Tigers varsity sport in time to start competing in the spring of 2013.

“I’m truly excited about Richard’s coming on board as our inaugural track and field coach,” said Brenau Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor. “Although we had some very impressive applicants for the position, he overwhelmingly emerged as the best person for this job. He has recruiting connections, experience and enthusiasm for the position among many, many qualities. He fits well with our existing staff. Plus, his outstanding academic credentials make him a perfect fit for the Golden Tigers ethic for producing well-rounded student athletes.”

Star performers

Ludwig earned a master’s degree in adult education at Colorado State University and a doctorate in education at the University of Georgia in 1991. From 1980-85 he taught and served as head track and cross country coach at North Hall High School in Gainesville. Since then his coaching has been volunteer work with running clubs, including Lanier Lightning and Lanier Running Club Junior Olympics, and at Gainesville High School.

Among the athletes he has coached are UGA’s four-time All-American and 1976 U.S. Olympic team high jumper James A. Barrineau Jr. and Gainesville High School’s 2009 USA Today pole vaulter of the year and USATF National Champion Paul Malquist, who is now a sophomore on the UGA team.

“Rick worked with me nearly every day my whole four years as an undergraduate at UGA, first as a fellow athlete and then as a grad-assistant coach,” said Barrineau, who has retired as a U.S. Army colonel and lives in Burke, Va. “As an athlete, he set the example for us in training by working harder than anyone else. His encouragement and mentoring also served to motivate us to stay up with him through many a hard workout. Without a doubt I would never have been a seven-foot high jumper, much less an Olympian, if not for Rick’s pulling us along in the weight room and on the track through Lewis Gainey’s workouts. Rick Ludwig is an outstanding leader, and Brenau University is fortunate to have him.”

Flower Power

Ludwig’s credentials, however, go beyond the field house. In addition to receiving Region 8 AAA Girls Track Coach of the Year honorsduring his final year at North Hall, he has received “Educator of the Year” honors from at Gwinnett Technical College, where he taught from 1985 to 2010; Georgia Green Industry, the state’s umbrella association representing landscaping businesses; and twice from the Georgia Commercial Flower Growers Association. In 2005 he garnered the Rick Perkins Award for excellence in technical instruction, the highest academic honor for faculty in the state’s 26 technical colleges and schools.

In 2010 Ludwig retired as program director at Gwinnett Technical College. For 11 years he also served as garden specialist for Southern Living magazine and host of GardenSMART, the television gardening program broadcast on local Public Broadcasting stations (PBS) throughout the United States. In 2001 he became national spokesman for Miracle-Gro, the popular consumer products for lawn and garden care.

A standout in long jump and triple jump during four years under the legendary Spec towns, Ludwig stayed on as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs back-to-back SEC championship seasons.

Ludwig is active in community and charitable activities. He will assume the Brenau position in February after he returns from Cambodia on a trip with Habitat for Humanity.

The university already fields women’s teams in cross country, soccer and volleyball in the fall; basketball, swimming and cheerleading in the winter, and tennis and softball in the spring. All compete in the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics and often make it into top 20 national rankings. The Golden Tigers softball team, for example, recently polled 5th nationally in the NAIA pre-season standings.

There are 163 track and field programs in the NAIA, and more than 500,000 athletes compete at the high school level. However, within the Southern States Athletic Conference, of which Brenau is a member, only five schools participate in track and field: Emmanuel College, Shorter University and Truett-McConnell College in Georgia; Lee University in Tennessee and Loyola University in Louisiana.

“I have every confidence that we can be competitive from the start,” said Ludwig, who will immediately begin recruiting for the team. Although he said that “if we get a good prospect from Idaho who wants to come to school here, we will certainly accommodate her,” most of his efforts will be directed at high school athletes in the region.

“There is great, national-caliber talent in this sport coming from this part of the world – throughout the Southeast and particularly Georgia,” Ludwig said. “They’re hungry to compete while continuing their educations, and frankly, there just are not that many opportunities. I actually believe Brenau will have some recruiting advantages. In the single-sex environment of the Women’s College, women who want to do well academically and in their sport will thrive at Brenau. We offer them chances to be both fantastic athletes and fantastic, well-rounded students.”

Ludwig’s challenge is to find 15 to 20 “blue chip” athletes ready to compete in the first year with a goal to grow the team to about 30 members competing in all events.

Any potential recruits interested in being part of this new, exciting program should contact Mike Lochstampfor, Athletic Director, at (770) 534-6231 or by email at mlochstampfor@brenau.edu.

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