Longtime assistant coach Rose Brimmer becomes women’s track and field interim head coach, volunteer Michelle Freeman to become assistant coach


Elisabeth Dillon

New women’s track and field head coach Rose Brimmer comes to Texas with a versatile resume and optimistic attitude.  The team will compete in Houston this weekend.   

Jori Epstein

When women’s athletics director Chris Plonsky told Rose Brimmer she would become interim head coach upon Beverly Kearney’s resignation, Brimmer first contacted her husband.

“Really?” he said.

Leo Brimmer wasn’t fazed. Brimmer’s daughter, Bria, set the South Carolina State University record for most single-season assists when playing on its volleyball team, and her son, Brodney, has experience playing defensive back at OU and in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. And Rose? Her sports career has leaped far beyond her college hurdle experience: from volleyball and track and field captain at the former Texas A&I University in Kingsville to coaching in the high school arena and at Texas.

Rose Brimmer began work at Westbury High School in Houston in 1986. Teaching and coaching athletes to the national level, Brimmer’s athletic oversight included track and field, cross country, basketball and volleyball. But when the Longhorn staff wanted an addition, Brimmer seized the opportunity. 

“I came here as a sprints and hurdles coach but I became a field events coach because I did jumps and sprints in college,” Brimmer said. “I hadn’t done throws but I acquired it when I got here.”

Joining the UT staff in the 2004-05 season, Brimmer mentored then-sophomore Michelle Carter as she broke the school shot put record. Since then, she has guided the high jumps of All-American Victoria Lucas and NCAA champion Destinee Hooker, the long jumps of 4-time NCAA champion Marshevet Hooker, Destinee’s older sister, and NCAA champion Alexandria Anderson and the pole vault of Ashley Laughlin. Lucas and the Hooker sisters went on to compete in the Olympics.

“Because I’ve coached everything now for quite some time, I think I know a little bit about everything,” Brimmer said. “I can go from event to event and actually know what I’m talking about.”

Before Brimmer’s ninth season this year, Kearney resigned as head coach of the women’s track and field program. UT head coach since 1993, the highly decorated Kearney admitted to an intimate consensual relationship with a student-athlete in her program beginning in 2002. Although the reported relationship ended about eight years ago, the University “determined it was no longer appropriate for Coach Kearney to serve as head coach or to work directly with our student-athletes,” according to a statement released by Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs.

Brimmer finds Kearney influenced her coaching style tremendously.

“I came in here winning so I always knew how to win but I’ve learned to set higher goals from Coach Kearney — she never gives up,” Brimmer said. “I never have [either] but I learned from working with her that it was OK to be that way.”

Brimmer now oversees the long sprinters, throwers and the jumpers while assistant coach Stephen Sisson guides distance runners. To fill the vacancy of a third coaching position, longtime volunteer assistant coach Michelle Freeman assumed the role of interim assistant coach, a UT spokeswoman confirmed to The Daily Texan on Tuesday. With three Olympics under her belt, a 1997 World Indoor Championship in 60-meter hurdles and four school records at Florida, Freeman moved from team strength coach last season to short sprints. 

The juggled staff hasn’t changed its goal: to gain confidence and a national championship, Brimmer said. But it has altered its strategy.

“We’re putting more people in more events,” Brimmer said. “A lot of times we’d specialize and just have them do one event to try and get a max. But [now] if they’re good at two, we’re putting them in two and hoping they’re scoring in both.”

Brimmer remains optimistic, believing the team boasts stronger quarter-milers this season and sophomore sprinters “a year older, a year wiser, a year better.”

With her increased leadership and a squad brimming with talent, Brimmer coaches as she always has: by teaching.

“Compared to most collegiate coaches, I was a teacher for twenty years,” Brimmer said. “I’m a teacher first and a coach second.”

The women’s track and field team competes this weekend at the UH Leonard Hilton Invite.

Published on January 16, 2013 as "Brimmer brings experience, determination to succeed".