Charles Foster is in his fifth season as the assistant coach in charge of sprints, hurdles and jumps for Virginia Tech track and field.
“Virginia Tech and our track and field program are very fortunate to have a coach with the success record of Charles Foster,” Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Dave Cianelli said. “Coach Foster is a winner, in every sense of the word. He has been a part of 25 ACC and national championship teams during his coaching career and was a world record holder and a United States Olympian himself.”
A RECORD OF SUCCESS
Foster’s student-athletes garnered a tremendous amount of success in 2013, winning three conference championships while five were named All-Americans. Jeff Artis-Gray was the ACC champion in the long jump during the indoor season. Ronnie Black won the high jump at the ACC Outdoor Championships and Darrell Wesh was champion in the 200-meter race. Artis-Gray (long jump) and Black (high jump) were both named All-Americans during the indoor and outdoor seasons while Wesh earned All-America honors in the 60-meter race during the indoor season. In 2013, Wesh broke the school’s 60-meter race record with a time of 6.57 seconds. Six school records were set during the indoor season under Foster’s direction. Jonathan McCants set the school record in both the 200-meter race (21.08 seconds) and the 300-meter race (33.58 seconds). Artis-Gray set both the 60-meter hurdles record (7.77 seconds) and the long jump record (25’10”) and Black set the high jump record (7’5”). During the outdoor season, four school records were broken. Wesh set the school’s new 100-meter dash record with a time of 10.14. Artis-Gray set both the 110-meter hurdles (13.84 seconds) and the long jump (26’00.75”) records and Black set the school’s new high jump record (7’4.50”).
During 2012, Foster’s group earned a total of 10 All-America honors, including Hasheem Halim who took third at the indoor championships in the triple jump and fourth at the outdoor championships, while setting school records in the event at both meets. His jump of 54-1¼ (16.49m) at the outdoor championships broke Phil Saunders’ school record that has stood since 1986. Throughout the year, Foster coached his athletes to five All-ACC performances and 33 school records (25 outdoors, 8 indoors). Notable school records that fell under Foster during the year were the 4x100 relay, 100m, 200m, and indoor and outdoor high jumps. The 4x100 relay team composed of Artis-Gray, Wesh, McCants and Keith Ricks earned All-America honors with a time of 39.62. Wesh posted a time of 10.15 in the 100m while Ricks was clocked at 20.45 in the 200m. Black claimed both high jump records with jumps of 2.22m in the indoor season and 2.23m in the outdoor season. During the summer, Wesh (100m), Ricks (200m) and Black (high jump) all competed in the 2012 USA Olympic Trial in Eugene, Ore. Ricks and Wesh’s summer continued after the trials as they competed for the USA (under-23) at the NACAC Games. Wesh won a gold medal as a member of the 4x100 relay team and Ricks earned a bronze medal in the 200 meters.
In 2011, Foster’s second year at Tech, he guided six individuals and one relay team to appearances at the NCAA Championships while three Hokies earned All-America honors, including triple jumper Hasheem Halim, who was an All-American both indoors and outdoors. Halim (fourth) and teammate David Wilson (sixth) earned first team All-America honors in the outdoor men’s triple jump, becoming the first Hokies to finish in the top eight in the event since 1987. Halim and Wilson also went 1-2 in the triple jump at the ACC Outdoor Championships. Sprinter Funmi Alabi set the school-record in the 60-meter dash (7.26) and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships, while high jumper Black set the outdoor school record (7’1.5”, 2.17m) and finished seventh in the nation to earn All-America accolades.
Foster made an immediate impact in his first season, as he was named the Southeast Region Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year. Foster helped Queen Harrison earn national titles in the 60, 100, and 400-meter hurdles, the first individual NCAA championships in the women’s program’s history. Harrison went on to be selected as the 2010 Bowerman Award winner, the most prestigious award in track & field. Fellow hurdler Kristi Castlin earned her sixth and seventh All-America honors, a program record at Tech. Harrison also earned four ACC titles, sweeping the three hurdle events and winning the indoor 400-meter dash. Under Foster’s tutelage, Halim set a new school record in the triple jump with his second-place performance at the ACC Indoor Championships.
In his career, Foster has coached two Olympic gold medalists, one silver medalist and a bronze medalist, along with 12 Olympians and more than 50 All-Americans. He has coached on teams that have won a total of 25 ACC team championships in track and field.
Prior to coming to Tech, Foster spent 10 years as the sprints, hurdles and relays coach for the men’s track and field team at Clemson, where the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCC) named him the NCAA Assistant Track Coach of the Year in 2008.
Before his time with Clemson, he worked on the Special Olympics World Summer Games Organizing Committee from 1997-99, and was the manager for sports planning on the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games from 1992-97. While on the committee, Foster’s responsibilities included the Olympic Stadium Hub, which entailed managing and planning for the Olympic sports of track and field, baseball, field hockey, sport shooting and softball.
Foster began his coaching career at North Carolina as an assistant track coach from 1986-92. Along with working with the sprints and hurdles units with the Tar Heels, he assisted in the design of a new track and field stadium.
As an athlete, Foster was a member of the 1976 United States Olympic Team that competed in Montreal, Canada. He won the high hurdles at the Olympic Trials that year to earn a spot on the squad. A former world record holder in the high hurdles event, Foster received the Distinguished Citizen Award of North Carolina, the highest award presented in the state.
The 1974 NCAA national champion in the 110m hurdles, Foster was an 18-time All-American at North Carolina Central in the 55m hurdles, 110m hurdles and the 4x100m relay. He was the TAC (now USATF) National Champion in the 110m hurdles from 1974-1976 and was the Penn Relays champion in the event from 1972 to 1975.
On the world scene, Foster has traveled to 86 different countries as a competing athlete or as the director, coach and consultant for a variety of track and field training camps, clinics and conferences. He served as the technical advisor and coach for nine countries’ Olympic teams as they prepared for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. He is internationally recognized as a strong motivator and expert in the field of speed training and conditioning.
Foster completed his undergraduate degree at North Carolina Central in 1975, where he received a bachelor of science in recreation administration. He then did two years of postgraduate studies in therapeutic recreation and administration at the University of North Carolina.
Foster is married to Sophronia Qualls and has a daughter, Sydney.