Former MNU strength coach recognized as 'legend'
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Orlando, Florida
Tom Cross, former head strength and conditioning coach at MidAmerica Nazarene University, was recognized on May 10 as a "Legend in the Field of Strength and Conditioning" by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association (CSCCa). His award was presented by Ethan Reeve, fellow strength and conditioning coach and member of the CSCCa Board of Directors. The honor was given in recognition of Cross’ pioneering efforts on behalf of the strength and conditioning profession.
Cross grew up in Kansas the oldest of four children. He was always interested in sports, participating first as an athlete and later as a coach. He began his coaching career as a football, basketball, and track coach at a junior high school. He soon moved on to coaching at the local high school level where he was the head football and track coach. His football and track teams enjoyed considerable success and he soon found himself coaching at the collegiate level.
In 1989, Cross made an important career decision and switched from coaching football to strength and conditioning. His first job in the strength and conditioning field was at Tulsa University as a volunteer in 1990. The following year he became the head strength and conditioning coach, and the football team became the Freedom Bowl Champions in 1991. In the 1994, the university’s basketball team made the Sweet Sixteen. That same year, Coach Cross was selected as Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the College and Professional Division.
In 1996, Cross became the strength and conditioning coach at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, where he was able to establish a program that has been an example for many coaches to follow. The success of the university’s athletic program speaks for itself:
  • The football team has won 80 percent of its games
  • The university’s basketball program played in 11 consecutive NAIA tournaments
  • The softball team has played in two NAIA post-season tournaments and has a record of 220-118 over the past seven years
  • Many of Cross' athletes successfully compete in the USA Weightlifting National Championships each year — nine teams have received the top three trophies.
Coach Cross has received many honors from numerous organizations for his contributions to the field:
  • Named the 2002 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year for the Kansas City area — received the Vince Lombardi Award
  • Recognized as a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the CSCCa in 2004
  • Recognized in 2006 by MidAmerica Nazarene University for 50+ years of coaching with the establishment of a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded annually to a worthy athlete at the university in Tom Cross’ name
  • Inducted in 2008 into the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame
  • Inducted in 2010 into the MidAmerica Nazarene University Hall of Fame
Cross has spent more than 58 years doing what he loves — coaching. The lives of many athletes and young strength and conditioning coaches have been impacted by the teaching and mentoring efforts of this outstanding individual.
One other individual was honored (posthumously) as a “Legend in the Field” of Strength and Conditioning at the 2012 CSCCa National Conference: Pat O’Shea. Both of these individuals have had a tremendous impact on the development of the strength and conditioning profession. The profession as it is known today is a direct result of the hard work, dedication, knowledge, and expertise of these legends. They are true pioneers who blazed a trail through unknown, uncharted territory and helped develop a profession that has become an integral part of successful athletic programs across the U.S. The pioneering and mentoring efforts of these individuals make them true “Legends in the Field.”
--MidAmerica Nazarene University Athletics
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