By Randy York
Nebraska Athletics said goodbye and farewell to nationally prominent track and field hall-of-fame coaching inductee Billy Maxwell late Monday afternoon in the hospitality room at the Devaney Center.
Maxwell, 73, spent 22 of his more than 50-year collegiate coaching career with legendary Nebraska head coach Gary Pepin, who revitalized his longtime friend’s devotion to a sport that includes major stops at Texas, LSU and Tennessee before his arrival in Lincoln.
The head or assistant coach on four NCAA national championship track and field teams, Maxwell also was a pivotal force that helped achieve eight national runner-up teams and seven teams that placed third in the NCAA Championships.
Nebraska’s sprints/hurdles/relay coach, Maxwell tutored 48 NCAA champions and more than 350 All-Americans, including 47 Husker All-Americans. He also coached six NCAA champion relay teams, including three that represented Nebraska. He also coached nine individual Big Ten champions and 25 individual Big 12 titlists.
“Billy Maxwell was a perfect fit for Nebraska because he was a perfect fit for Coach Pepin and the hard-working sons and daughters of this great state,” said T.J. Pierce, Nebraska’s pole vault and combined events coach.
Recruit, Recruit , Recruit, Then Show Up Every Day to Do Your Job
“Coach Pepin and Billy believe in recruiting-recruiting-recruiting and then go recruit some more,” Pierce said. “After joining our staff, I realized this was not any different than Nebraska farmers, ranchers and blue-collar workers, who show up every day and without fail, do their job.
“As we teach our student-athletes with the tremendous resources the University provides, they understand that if you are willing to put in the work and use those resources, success will come,” Pierce said. “Billy Maxwell is a great example of what hard work, dedication, determination and passion can do for our student-athletes.”
Husker distance coach David Harris agrees. “Starting as a high school coach, Billy spent most of his life dedicated to helping track and field athletes get better,” Harris said. “Known as a top recruiter and definitely involved in many conference-level teams, the USTFCCCA recognized Billy for his long career and accomplishments.
“I enjoyed talking with Billy and sharing training ideas with him these past six years. We worked together many times in setting up training for some of the long sprinters,” Harris said. “I was happy to work with Billy and the relay several times.”
Bottom line, “Billy wanted his athletes to be the best they could be,” Harris said. “Billy got a lot out of athletes and that surprised both our staff and other Big Ten teams. I enjoyed talking sports with Billy. He is a walking historian of track and field and I enjoyed the stories he had on the impact of our sport.”
Respected Maxwell Made Positive Impact on Hundreds of Student-Athletes
Nebraska throws coach Scott Cappos calls Maxwell “one of the most respected coaches in all of track and field. He has made a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of student-athletes and helped bring national prominence to Nebraska’s program. It has been a genuine pleasure working alongside Coach Maxwell.”
Husker volunteer coach Casey Kear calls Maxwell one of the greatest coaches in the history of college track and field. “His success on the track has been incredible but his impact and development of young student-athletes at Nebraska is even more impressive,” she said.
“He cares about each of his athletes as if they are his own sons, and their respect for him is unparalleled,” Kear said. “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to watch and to learn from one of the all-time greats!”
NU volunteer coach Casie Witte describes working alongside Coach Maxwell as a great honor. “There are so many things that I have learned from him through the years,” she said. “The thing that stands out the most is his passion for the sport and his athletes. He is a man with a soft interior and a hard shell and would do anything to help his athletes and this team.”
With unparalleled prowess, Maxwell “knew how to bring recruits into this program that not only were great athletes and hardworking, but also had the character to fit into this team,” Witte said.
“You see what Coach Maxwell has developed with the men’s sprint group,” she said. “They push each other and will do anything to succeed and make their coach proud. Coach Maxwell has done a lot for this program and it shows what kind of a coach he is when you watch his athletes take the track. He goes well beyond the title of coach. He was an inspiration to us all.”
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