Very few coaches have achieved as much as Shawn Flanagan has in his 32 year career. He has coached Olympians, NCAA National Champions, All Americans, National Qualifiers, Conference Champions and every other level of athlete. Flanagan has been recognized as a NCAA Regional Coach of the Year and/or Conference Coach of the Year over 30 times in his career.
Flanagan started the Islanders program from scratch in 2000. Since that time the Islanders have brought home 11 Conference Team Championships, three NCAA National Individual Championships, seven NCAA All-American awards and four NCAA Academic All-American Team awards as well as innumerable individual conference champion awards.
Flanagan has had Islanders at six of the last seven NCAA National Cross Country Championships. In Texas - Corpus Christi’s seven years in the Southland Conference, an Islander has been the individual Conference Cross Country Champion in six of those years.
Under Flanagan’s leadership, the annual Cross Country Islanders Splash has been tabbed one of the premiere cross country events in Texas, attracting thousands of collegiate, high school and middle school athletes.
With the opening of the new Dugan Track Stadium on the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi Momentum Campus, Islanders fans can expect to see collegiate and high school track events on campus to compare with the quality of the Islanders Splash event beginning in the 2014 track season.
“The importance of the opening of the Dugan Track Stadium can’t be underestimated,” Flanagan said. “It is huge. Now that we have our own track stadium with locker rooms, offices, training facilities as well as a track and field venue, we will be able to bring the track program up to the level that the cross country program has been at.”
The hallmark of Flanagan’s success is to help his athletes develop to the next level of performance. One recent example is Kristine Burciaga (2007-2011). Burciaga developed from a walk-on student-athlete with a personal-best of 12:15 in the 3200 in high school to passing the 3200 mark in 10:50 en route to a 16:58 in the 5,000 performance during her senior track season. During Burciaga’s senior year, she led the Islanders Cross Country team to a Southland Conference Championship title with a second-place finish.
At a more advanced starting level is the example of Shadrack Songok (2005-08). Songok, who is currently a Graduate Assistant Coach for the program, arrived on campus as a freshman with marks of 14:40 for the 5km and 30:35 for the 10km. By the time Songok was a senior year he had improved his time to 13:46 and 28:16. He had also clinched two NCAA National titles in the outdoor 10,000m, one NCAA National title in the indoor 5,000m and finished seventh at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. It marked the highest finish for a Southland Conference student-athlete.
“The key to success in collegiate cross country and track and field is recruiting good people with the necessary desire to do what is required to develop the full extent of their abilities,” Flanagan said. “Not everybody has the talent to be a National Champion, but if you can help every student-athlete fully develop the talent that they do have, then you will have a very successful program. That is how we have been successful at every place I have been.”
Flanagan’s coaching career started at UTSA where he helped launch the program in 1981 taking over as head coach in 1984. During his tenure, Flanagan coached the only Southland Conference team in conference history to win the NCAA Regional title in cross country. He followed that performance with a 19th place finish as a team at the NCAA Nationals, which was also a Southland Conference record. Even though for most of Flanagan’s time at UTSA they were not in a track conference, they joined the Southland in 1991 and Flanagan managed to guide the Roadrunners to 18 titles in men’s and women’s cross country and track.
In January of 1997, Flanagan left UTSA to go to the University of Texas to coach men’s cross country and assist in men’s track. During Flanagan’s three years at Texas, the Longhorns men’s team won three Big 12 track titles and had second and fifth-place finishes at the NCAA National Outdoor Track Championships.
Prior to starting his coaching career, Flanagan did four years active duty in the U.S. Army achieving the rank of Captain. In college, he was a four-time national qualifier in cross country and qualified two times in track. His highest finish was 18th place in cross country and sixth in track. In 1980, he qualified and ran in the U.S. Olympic Trials. Flanagan has coached athletes that have made three Olympic Games (Roger Soler in the 5,000 in 1984 and Liza Hunter-Galvan in the marathon in 2004 and 2008).
Flanagan has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and a master’s degree from UTSA. He has a level two certification from USA Track and Field in the area of distances and was inducted into the UW-Platteville Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.
Flanagan is married to Beverly Johnson. They have one son, Solomon Johnson.