Alumnus Je’Kel Smith named director of Cross Country and Track and Field at Benedictine College in Kansas

An Alcorn State University alumnus will lead one of Benedictine College's athletic programs into the future.

Je'Kel Smith, a former student-athlete who earned a bachelor's degree from Alcorn in 2010, was named the school's director of Cross Country and Track & Field in Atchison, Kansas Wednesday, Jan. 1. In his new position, Smith is responsible for recruiting, fundraising, and maintaining the program's budget.

Smith comes to Benedictine after being the head coach for the Avila University Cross Country and Track & Field program. During his tenure, he groomed Avila's first-ever track & field All-Americans while leading several athletes to All-Conference selections in both the Heart of America Athletic Conference and Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The Avila job helped Smith become the coach he is now. He feels that his previous experience was an ideal setup for him to flourish in his new role at Benedictine.

"I coached every event in the sport at Avila," said Smith. "Initially, I only knew about the distance events and jumps, so I had to teach myself about other events such as throwing, hurdling, and sprinting. Coaching the program by myself for three years taught me how to keep my composure when things were difficult, and when my team most needed me."

Authenticity has led Smith to success as a coach. Despite the challenges he's faced, his unique ability to lead and resonate with student-athletes has never failed. He's confident his success will continue at Benedictine.

"I plan to be myself. The road has been tough, but my former athletes bought into my style of coaching. I believe I can do the same at Benedictine and lead this team to victory."

Smith is looking forward to his future with Benedictine. He feels privileged to be the program's next leader.

"It's truly a blessing to serve this amazing program. My goals are to build a strong relationship with my team and the Benedictine community, continue their success in the classroom, and take the team to newer heights every year."