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Massachusetts Athletics Mourns the Passing of Former Cross Country and Track and Field Head Coach Ken O'Brien

AMHERST, Mass. - Ken O'Brien, men's cross country and track and field coach emeritus and former head coach at the University of Massachusetts, passed away Monday at the age of 82."When someone that has had over a half century of impact on people passes, it is hard to fathom, and impossible to wrap words around that type of loss," said director of track and field and cross country David Jackson. "As a mentor, coach and leader 'Coach OB' was awesome. He allowed you to grow and gently guided you to understand the paths to success. Coach did so via sport, education, or chatting over a cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. The passion for sport, our sport, and the people that were lucky enough to be coached by him understood. They had become a part of the UMass cross country and track & field family. Most importantly, they became a part of his family. Coach OB was a 50-year pillar of the success and legacy of this program. As we approach a men's program that's well over 100 years old and a women's program that is turning 50, his presence and impact cannot be refuted. Thank you for being a coach to all. I hope you are resting and getting ready to coach the next crop of heavenly athletes. You, sir, will never be forgotten!"   


"It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of a UMass coaching legend and Hall of Famer," said director of athletics Ryan Bamford. "Ken's contributions to his alma mater, his home state and the Amherst community may never be replicated. As our head coach for 50 years, he had a lasting influence on the lives of thousands of student-athletes. Helping young people was his life's work and he excelled in innumerable ways. Our thoughts are with his family at this time." 


In O'Brien's 50 seasons coaching cross country and track and field at UMass from 1967-2016, the Minutemen won 19 conference titles (Yankee, Eastern and Atlantic 10), four New England crowns, two IC4A titles and he mentored 13 individual NCAA qualifiers seven All-America performers. 




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