Kebba Tolbert '94 with one of his athletes at Portland State University.
Three competitors in world championships, a U.S. Olympic trials finalist, numerous NCAA All-America athletes, and several national and international record holders—these are just a few of the many collegiate track and field athletes Kebba Tolbert ’94 has coached since 1996.
But Tolbert knows there is much more to collegiate sports than winning.
Tolbert is assistant track and field coach at the University of Texas at El Paso
and an instructor with USA Track and Field
, where he coaches week-long, intensive courses covering biomechanics, motor learning, neurophysiology, training theory, and event-specific analysis. But before he coached, he ran. At Colby he was seven-times All-New England, and once (in 1992) a New England champion. He set six school records in sprints and relays (he still holds the 200-meter dash record), was team captain in both his junior and senior years, and competed in the 1992 and 1994 NCAA Division III Championships. What Tolbert remembers most from his time as a college athlete, though, was a coaching staff that encouraged big strides athletically—and academically.
Excelling on the track was only part of Tolbert’s personal training. A dedicated philosophy major, Tolbert knew all too well the demanding schedule of a collegiate student-athlete. When he became head track and field and cross country coach at Iowa Wesleyan College
in 1997 (after completing his graduate work in exercise and sport studies at Smith College), Tolbert didn’t forget his own experience.
“Athletics and coaches are a big part of the academic institution and collegiate experience for many students,” he said. “Coaches need to be teaching just as any educator would. Student athletes learn how to handle defeat with integrity, how to work with teammates, how to prepare for life. We are responsible for what they learn on the field and how that will translate to what students do in the classroom.”
The UTEP program is top-ranked in Division I, with 40 athletes from 12 countries. Tolbert continues to demand excellence of his collegiate athletes, he said, “in every area of their university disciplines, both on and off the track.”
—Alexandra Desaulniers ’12