Heisler talks about resignation; IU names interim track coaches

By Doug Wilson
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Randy Heisler will miss working with athletes, but not all the paperwork, the recruiting and being away from home so much.
With Indiana announcing the resignation of the 45-year-old head track coach last weekend, local track fans were left wondering what had happened. Why was a young, successful coach leaving?
Heisler said Tuesday that he’s been thinking of resigning for a long time and that it’s mostly a matter of seeking new opportunities and adventures. And after more than 20 years of being away from his family on weekends from January through July, he’s ready for a more normal lifestyle.
IU has named associate head coach Wayne Pate as the interim head coach for the men’s team, Heisler said, and assistant coach Judy Wilson as interim head coach for the women’s team.
Heisler has been diagnosed with diabetes, but said he’s going to be fine and that wasn’t his main reason for resigning.
A bigger problem is that as he became head coach for both the men’s and women’s teams, he spent less time coaching and more time on administrative duties and recruiting. He wasn’t doing as much of what he loved.
The former Olympian discus thrower said he continually promised himself he’d find extra time to spend with IU’s throwers beyond their regular practice hours like he used to before he was head coach.
But instead of joining his throwers in the weight room, for instance, he’d find himself busy back at his desk or dealing with an academic issue.
Heisler left the track program with a bright future, he said. His current men’s freshman class and the recruiting class coming in are so strong, he said, that he felt that if he didn’t resign now, it would have become difficult to make that decision in a couple of years as those athletes mature.
Despite his relative youth for a head coach, Heisler was part of Indiana’s track program for 22 years. He came to Bloomington after graduating from the University of Indianapolis, where he won three NCAA Division II titles.
“I just wanted to hang out with Dave Volz and train because he wanted to be an Olympian, too,” Heisler recalled.
That decision didn’t work out too badly. He achieved his goal of making the 1988 Olympic team in the discus. His buddy Volz, the former Bloomington South pole vaulter, accomplished his Olympic dream in 1992.
And Heisler — who didn’t expect to become a track coach — accepted an assistant coach’s job, and then never left IU’s staff until now.
He hasn’t decided for certain whether his next job will be in coaching or not, but said he’s talking with people about some possibilities already.
Heisler’s opportunities to spend more time with his family will start right away. His family is heading to Florida to share part of the holiday season with Volz’s family.
Then in January, Heisler expects to visit some of IU’s indoor track meets as a fan.
“Indiana gave me some incredible opportunities,” he said. “I could never be more thankful for those opportunities.”