Left to right: Track and Field Coach Mardy Scales, Assistant Coach Linnie Yarbrough and Assistant Coach Stephen Register
It’s been more than 50 years since track and field has been a sport at Cumberland University, but the 2016-17 academic year will welcome back teams for both men and women. A coaching staff has been hired and they are enthusiastically spreading the word about the program to potential students.
Mardy Scales is the head coach while Stephen Register and Linnie Yarbrough are the assistant coaches. All three knew each other either from high school or college.
They are embarking on recruiting for the inaugural track and field season, which will be in 2016-17. Recently, the three coaches attended an indoor track meet at Vanderbilt recently to help “get Cumberland’s name out there,” said Scales. “Right now the main goal is to let people know about the opportunities for student-athletes at Cumberland, such as scholarships, focused individual attention both academically and athletically, and the opportunity to succeed at an elite level.”
The coaches have seven virtues that will form the cornerstones of Cumberland’s winning track and field culture: 1) courage 2) focus 3) discipline 4) dedication 5) integrity 6) respect 7) pride.
“These virtues represent what it takes to succeed as a whole person both on and off the track,” said Register.
Coach Scales is a Franklin, Tenn., native who attended Centennial High School and went on to be a seven-time All-American for legendary track coach Dean Hayes at Middle Tennessee State University from 2001-04, winning the NCAA 100-meter outdoor collegiate title as a junior. He was recently inducted into MTSU’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Scales earned Sun Belt Conference Male Athlete of the Year honors as a senior for the Blue Raiders and was a seven-time Sun Belt Conference champion. He set Sun Belt Championships records in winning the 100 and 200-meters outdoors in 2004 and his 10.12 in the 100 was the fastest by any collegian that year. He went on to run track professionally from 2004-09 with Nike, representing the United States in various athletic events around the globe, maintaining a strict schedule and practice discipline to compete at the highest level. Scales was a Pan American Games silver medalist in the 100 in 2003 and a member of the USA Track & Field World Championship Team in 2005 after winning the USA Indoor 60-meter championship that year. He has a Level 1 USA Track & Field Coaching Certification.
“It is an honor, a special privilege to be a part of this historic program from the very beginning. This track team is the very embodiment of the phoenix rising from the ashes, ” said Scales.
Assistant Coach Register, a Columbia, Tenn., native, met Scales in high school and Yarbrough while attending MTSU. Register spent three years as a runner for Belmont University and still holds the school outdoors record in the 400-meters in 48.97. He graduated from Belmont in 2008.
Register also is a distinguished veteran of the Tennessee National Guard who served 16 months during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Moreover, he received a master’s from the Yale Divinity School in 2011 before returning to Nashville where he taught religion as an adjunct instructor at Belmont and concurrently volunteered as a sprints coach with its track team.
Assistant Coach Yarbrough is a Nashville, Tenn., native who earned All-American honors at Middle Tennessee in 2006 in the 110-meter hurdles and won Sun Belt Conference individual titles indoors in the 55-meter hurdles in 2006 and three straight years outdoors in the 110-meter hurdles from 2004-06. He still holds Blue Raider school records in the 55-meter hurdles (7.20) and the 110-meter hurdles (13.67). He still holds the Sun Belt Championship record with 13.73 in the 110-meter hurdles.
A graduate of Hunters Lane High School and MTSU, he signed with Nike in 2006, and was an Olympic qualifier in the hurdles in 2008. He previously coached at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla., during his professional career.
“This is a great opportunity to be part of history at Cumberland University. Being a part of the first track and field team at Cumberland in more than 50 years will be something to brag about for the rest of our lives,” said Yarbrough.