Aug. 6, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Now entering his sixth season with the Army track and field program, head coach Troy Engle has announced the hiring of Brian Bancroft and Lauren Smith as assistant coaches. Bancroft will coach the Black Knight’s throwers while Smith will guide Army’s hurdling contingent.
Bancroft comes to West Point from Texas A&M where he spent the past eight seasons as a team administrator. With the Aggies, the 1993 A&M graduate was responsible for a number of administrative duties, including scheduling, team travel, recruiting logistics and event management responsibilities. Additionally, from the 2005 through the 2008 season, Bancroft aided in weight room instruction as well as coaching of throws, jumps, sprints and distance groups.
Bancroft was an integral member of the Texas A&M Track and Field Camp staff, serving as Camp Director for the past two years. Bancroft, who holds USTFCCCA Throws Specialist Certification, was a throws and sprints coach for the past four years. In addition to his camp duties, Bancroft played a major role in the administration of the 2004 NCAA Midwest Regional and the 2004 U.S. Junior Championships, both hosted by Texas A&M.
The Aggies enjoyed unprecedented success during Bancroft’s era, making history by becoming the first school to win dual national championship titles three consecutive years. A&M won both men’s and women’s NCAA outdoor track titles 2009-11, capped off with the men’s program capturing the 2013 outdoor crown.
Bancroft has also worked extensively with professional athletes. During the offseason, he assisted A&M staff members with the training programs of such professionals as world-record holder Aries Merritt and Olympic gold medalist Muna Lee.
Prior to joining the A&M track staff, Bancroft was a systems analyst for the athletic department for four years. He holds a pair of engineering degrees from Texas A&M, earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1993 followed by a bachelor's degree in computer engineering in 1996. After working as an engineer and consultant, Bancroft joined the Texas A&M athletic department in November of 2001.
As a student at A&M, Bancroft was a four-year member of Squadron 7 in the Corps of Cadets of the ROTC program and a Ross Volunteer. Athletically he competed in the decathlon for the Aggie track and field program in 1992 and 1993, and was also a member of the 12th Man football squad for a season.
"Several years ago, friends on the A&M staff told me that if we ever had an opening, they had the perfect guy,” said Engle of Bancroft. “Throughout the interview process, that became very clear to me; Brian Bancroft is an unbelievable fit for our program. He is a passionate coach, is as hard working as they come and understands how uniquely special our cadet-athletes are. As I asked around about the right person for our throws job, coaches from the Ivy League to the SEC, from Boston to the Bayou, all mentioned Brian's name. We are lucky and I am very excited about having him on the staff. He understands winning and moreover is committed to doing it the right way with the quality of cadet-athletes that we have on our team.”
Smith comes to West Point after two seasons at The Academy of Art University, the 2013 Division II NCAA women’s indoor and outdoor track champions. The 2004 University of Houston graduate served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Urban Knights track and field and cross country programs. Smith primarily advised the sprinters, jumpers, hurdlers and relay squads at AAU.
Smith helped guide Vashti Thomas during the 2013 championship season as Thomas claimed a pair of national titles during the indoor campaign, taking first place in both the long jump and 200-meter dash. On the men’s side, Johnny Carter swept the triple jump and long jump titles en route to a team finish just outside of the top 10.
The 2013 season was AAU’s first opportunity to compete in the NCAA Division II postseason, having established its athletic program in 2008.
AAU became the first program in NCAA history to win two national championships during its first year of postseason eligibility after capturing the women’s outdoor title as well. Thomas repeated as long jump champion, while adding a gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles as well.
Smith is an accomplished athlete herself ranging from success in high school to international competition. The New Jersey native who attended high school in Texas was a 5A State Champion at Langham Creek High School in the 100-meter hurdles before becoming a four-year member and team captain of the University of Houston track program. While with the Cougars, the sprinter and hurdler earned multiple Conference USA crowns and garnered USA Junior All-America plaudits. Smith, who served as a volunteer coach at Houston for two seasons following graduation, continues to compete on a national and international level as a representative of the USA Track and Field team, having qualified for the USA Championships and Olympic Trials.
“As soon as I met Lauren, I knew she was the right person for the job,” said Engle. “I obviously knew of her athletic career and had followed her success as a coach at the Academy of Art; it's not often you see a coach and two of her athletes all toe the line at the National Championships. But what really won me over was her positive, out-going nature and keen, immediate appreciation of West Point. She will make us a better staff and a better team; I know that her enthusiasm will be infectious. She has been a gracious champion everywhere she has been - as an athlete and as a coach. She made our search process very easy.”
Bancroft and Smith join an assistant coaching staff with a national championship pedigree. Third-year relay and middle distance adviser Rondell Ruff was a member of the 2005 NCAA Champion distance medley relay unit at Michigan, while second-year cross country and distance assistant Shannon O’Brien was on staff when Florida State women’s cross country finished runner-up at the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships.