Late coach Dalton Ebanks remembered as the giant behind George Mason's success

By April 27, 2020
Coach Dalton Ebanks (front left in white cap and kneeling) with members of the GMU coaching staff and athletes  Coach Dalton Ebanks (front left in white cap and kneeling) with members of the GMU coaching staff and athletes contributed

The United States collegiate and Jamaican Track and Field community are in mourning over the passing of former George Mason University coach, Dalton Ebanks, who died Saturday from complications of the Coronavirus Covid-19.

He was 68.

Ebanks, a former student of Vere Technical High School in Hayes, Clarendon in Jamaica and Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, built a strong legacy as an assistant coach and head coach at George Mason University over a period of 19 years. 

After cutting his coaching teeth at Vere for three years during the early 1980s, Ebanks joined the coaching staff at George Mason (GMU) in 1985 as an assistant coach with the women's team. He served in that capacity through 1990, when he became an assistant coach with the men's team.

Former head coach at GMU John Cook remembers him as the man who helped keep the programme together.

Ebanks was a member of the staff that won the 1996 NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship. GMU promoted him to head coach in 1997 and was rewarded when the university finished as runner-up in the 1997 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"Coach Dalton Ebanks was the gentle giant behind GMU success over the years,” recalls Simon Bowen, who was among the Jamaican recruits who joined the GMU programme during Ebanks’ tenure that ended with his resignation in 2005.

“As captain of the GMU track team in 1994, I saw up close how effective he was in giving head coach John Cook the ins and outs of the athletes’ mental comfort in high-pressure situations. He was the only one that could take a high-pressure situation and guide us to composure level to help us maximize our performance.

“He was the architect behind the GMU 400m dynasty that dominated the NCAA Championships and the Penn Relays. He produced the likes of Gregory Haughton and Patrick O’Connor."

Eight-hundred-metre runner Alex Morgan and Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles silver-medallist Ian Weakley were also among Ebanks’ GMU recruits that also included Omar Bailey, Anthony Wallace, Dwight Roberts, Ernest Barrett, Mario Watson, Ali Watson, Maurice Wignall and Paul Henry.

Standout heptathlete, Diane Guthrie was also a student at GMU during the GMU heydays.

Guthrie scored of 6527 at the University of Tennessee's Tom Black Track in Knoxville, Tennessee from June 2-3 1995 to win her second NCAA title while breaking the previous NCAA record set by American track icon Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

For his outstanding work at GMU, Haughton called for the coach to be honoured in some way.

“My condolences to the family of legendary coach Dalton Ebanks, who lost his battle to the COVID-19 yesterday,” Haughton wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday.

“It is with a heaving heart I’m writing this note. To the George Mason University family, especially those who were either recruited or worked closely with Coach Ebanks, please let us come together and do something to honour his contributions to track and field.”

Haughton, who won two gold medals in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in 1998, had fond memories of Coach Ebanks and learned long-lasting life lessons from the coach during their time together at George Mason.

“He was not a perfect human being, but his efforts have changed lives in a positive way. He gave hundreds of scholarship opportunities to individuals who needed the chance to get a head start in life. He will be forever be remembered in my life. I pray that God will continue to guide and protect those he has guided throughout the years,” he said.

“One of the lasting interactions I had with Coach Ebanks, is that he was always on the move and on time. The phrase he always uttered, “We have fish to fry.” Meaning, there is no time to waste, let’s get things done.

“I use those very words with my teenage son today. At the time when all of us competed under the coaching of Dalton Ebanks, we were all transitioning from boys to men. As a result, Coach Ebanks held a father-like figure in guiding us through many of our personal issues. With that said, let’s do our part to honour the place in time that we respectively shared with Coach Dalton Ebanks.”

Weakley was devastated at the news.

“What I remember most about Coach Dalton Ebanks, he had such a calm demeanour and a great personality and he really did a good job with that,” he said. “His legacy at GMU was very successful mainly because of the outstanding recruits from Jamaica, Ghana, Kenya and the USA.

“Coach Ebanks loved his athletes. He loved his family and he loved the track and field summer camps at the track and field house that I was also helping him with for many summers while studying at George Mason University. He had a huge heart for people, and it was obvious. He was a personal friend and father-figure of mine and I’ll miss him, but I know he’s in heaven.”

Ebanks, who was living in Connecticut, was recently divorced from Donna, his wife of many years, and is survived by three children.

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.