NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Call it admiration or inspiration, but one thing is certain for Belmont University track and field runner Kaden Eaton — coaches have made a tremendous impression on his life on and off the track.
So when his days are finally done as a Bruin, Eaton hopes to give back in a similar way. He plans to pursue a life and career as a cross-country and track coach.
“Seeing the impact that they’ve had on my life and the lives of so many other people, I can only imagine what a joy it would be to get to do that every day,” Eaton said.
The native of Columbus counts two coaches in particular as his most influential — veteran Belmont track and field program director Jeff Langdon and his prep coach Rick Weinheimer at Columbus North High School.
Weinheimer was responsible for channeling Eaton’s focus as a young man into a constructive direction on the cross-country course. Weinheimer, who recently retired after 38 years of coaching and teaching, instilled in Eaton a great work ethic, he said, and was responsible for the success that led Eaton to become a collegiate athlete.
Weinheimer’s lessons, which he distilled into book form in “Move Your Chair,” extend to achieving excellence in everyday life as well, Eaton said.
“I think one of the great things about this sport and what I’ve loved about it is you can find life lessons in it that will apply to all parts of life,” Eaton said.
Under Langdon, a coach at Belmont dating back to 1986, Eaton has realized his passion for passing on those life lessons to the next generation of runners.
A corporate communications major at Belmont, Eaton plans to fill his upcoming summer with volunteer coaching opportunities at running camps. He’s also working on crafting a training plan for his old high school team at North, where he was part of teams that won back-to-back state titles in 2010 and 2011 and was The Republic Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year in 2013.
The next step would be joining a college program as a volunteer coach or graduate assistant, all in the hopes of working his way onto a staff full time at the university level in the future.
“It’s a journey, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can from experienced coaches,” Eaton said. “You’ve got to put in the work.”
His work is yet complete during this outdoor track season though. The Bruins are competing this weekend at the Georgia Tech Invitational. The Ohio Valley Conference Championships are May 10 to 12 at Tennessee Tech.
Name: Kaden Eaton
High school: Columbus North
Cross-country highlights: Finished 29th in 2014 Ohio Valley Conference meet; finished 40th in 2016 OVC meet and 72nd in 2016 NCAA South Region; finished 24th in 2017 OVC meet
Track highlights: Finished eighth in 1,600 in 2016 OVC outdoor meet, 10th in 5,000 in 2017 OVC indoor meet, 10th in 10,000 in 2017 OVC outdoor meet