Bradley’s new head cross country and track and field coach Darren Gauson is no stranger to change. Switching between universities and positions is normal for many coaches, but Gauson did more than just that: He switched continents before settling into his current job.
Gauson was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. Surprisingly, running wasn’t his primary focus while growing up.
“I started running from a fairly young age,” Gauson said. “But running was not my main passion, it was probably soccer. Growing up in Scotland, soccer and rugby were the biggest sports. I did track as a secondary sport. But later on in high school, I realized that I was one of the best in the region, and started running more competitively and found success.”
Gauson graduated high school and began running at the collegiate level. After winning the Scottish national championship twice in the 1500-meter event in 2004 and 2005, Gauson graduated from Napier University in Edinburgh with a degree in sport and exercise science in 2006.
With two more years of eligibility left, Gauson decided to travel to America and run for Butler University, where he obtained a Master’s degree in education. He said that the decision to leave his homeland and come to America wasn’t an easy one.
“I was choosing between going to London or going to Birmingham, England, or coming here,” Gauson said. “But there were other British athletes who were running at Butler at the time and doing well. The coach really sold the school and the area well and I decided to come over.”
Gauson was able make an impact as a Bulldog, claiming the Horizon League title in the 1500-meter. However, during his last year of eligibility, Gauson injured his knee and was sidelined for the rest of the year. From that point on, he began to spend more time with the coaches and see things from a different perspective.
“It was kind of a blessing and a curse,” Gauson said. “I got injured, but I was also able to see things from the coaching side. I always really enjoyed the training side of things, and I was always interested in coaching and working with people in sports.”
Gauson must have made a good impression on Butler’s coaching staff, because he was hired as a part-time assistant coach right out of school. Gauson worked with the team and did a lot of recruiting and scouting of international athletes specifically. A short time later, he was bumped up to a full-time assistant.
Gauson ended up coaching for four years at Butler, where he was part of a successful program that won 14 straight conference cross country titles. During his first season on staff, the Bulldogs finished 29th at the NCAA National Championship. Gauson coached four All-Americans while at Butler. The Butler women finished third in the nation and six of the seven girls on the team were Gauson’s recruits.
Gauson then accepted his first head coaching position at Lamar University, where he found even more success. He guided both the Cardinals men’s and women’s cross country programs to consecutive Southland Conference championships in 2013 and 2014 and coached runners to 36 individual Southland Conference championships in cross country and track in just three seasons. Gauson was named the Southland Conference Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
When Bradley’s head coaching position opened in 2015, Gauson jumped at the opportunity.
“There’s a lot of talent in Illinois and the Midwest for distance running,” Gauson said. “But I was very interested because it was similar to Butler: Private, Division I, similar enrollment. I had a lot of friends in the area as well. Scotland is home, but coming back to the Midwest also felt like home for me. So far, it has been better than I expected.”
Now that Gauson is settled in at Bradley, he said he has lofty goals for the program.
Gauson and the Braves men’s and women’s cross country teams compete in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships in Evansville, Indiana Saturday.