Tom Akers

Volunteer Assistant Coach, Jumps

Position: Volunteer Assistant Coach(Jumps) - Former Director of Track & Field/Cross Country
Alma Mater: Northern Iowa, 1979
Years at EIU: 30+

Tom Akers enters his first year as a volunteer coach after retiring following the 2017-18 school year. As director of the program, he helped the Panthers create one of the dominant track programs in the history of the Ohio Valley Conference.

He currently coaches jumps but has coached every event area during his long coaching career.

Since helping the Panthers transition into the OVC for the 1997 season, EIU has won 15 of 18 OVC Men’s Indoor Track Championships and 14 of 18 OVC Men’s Outdoor Championships. Each time Akers has been named the OVC Coach of the Year. In 2009 he took over duties as the women’s head track coach as well leading the Panthers to four straight OVC Women’s Indoor and Outdoor titles in from 2009-12.

In 2018, he coached Haleigh Knapp to All-American honors indoors in the women's high jump. 

In 2016-17 seasons, he led the Panthers to team titles indoors for both men and women, and the women won outdoors as well. In 2013 the EIU men's team won its fifth straight indoor and outdoor and track championships while the women's team won its fifth straight outdor title. The Panthers had those championship streaks snapped in 2014 but did have several individuals excel with Peter Geraghty and Mick Viken both earning All-American honors in the pole vault.  During the 2014 season EIU sent six individuals and one relay team to the NCAA Regional.

In addition to winning those team titles, Akers has also coached 19 athletes who have captured the OVC Track and Field Athlete of the Year award including Calvin Edwards (2014 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year), Darren Patterson (2010 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year), Zye Boey (2009 and 2011 Indoor; 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year), Daniel Strackeljahn (2007 Indoor Track Athlete) and Obe Eruteya (2006 Field Athlete). On the women’s side Akers coached Megan Gingerich who was named the 2010 OVC Indoor Female Athlete of the Year.

In 2012 Akers coached Zye Boey to one of the most decorated seasons in school history.  Boey earned All-American honors in the 200m dash at the NCAA Indoor National Championships.  He would later earn All-American honors at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships in 100m and 200m sprints.  In the summer of 2012 Boey competed at the US Olympic Trials in both events.

He served as the interim head coach in spring of 1995 before being named head coach for the 1996 season. During his first two seasons EIU competed in the Mid-Continent Conference sweeping the Indoor and Outdoor championships both seasons.

He was promoted to Director of Track/Field and Cross Country in 2002. During his tenure as head coach, EIU has had six Division I All-Americans along with more than 200 individual OVC conference champions. Under Akers direction the Panthers have also had 23 OVC Athletes of the Year, 7 OVC Freshmen of the Year and 6 OVC Championship MVP’s.

From 1983-90, Akers was an EIU assistant coach when the Panthers won six indoor/outdoors Mid-Continent Conference championships. He was responsible for recruiting and coaching Eastern’s first NCAA Division I National Champion, Jim Maton from Shelbyville, who was a four time NCAA All-American in 1987-88. Maton won the 800 meter run (1:49.3) at the 1988 NCAA indoor championship. A multiple Mid-Continent Conference champion and league ‘Athlete of the Year’, Maton holds most school records in the middle distance events.

Akers also recruited Dan Steele from Sherrard High School. He was a two time Division I All-American and national champion in the 400 hurdles in 1992. His twin brother, Darrin, was an All-American decathlete in 1992. Both were members of the USA Olympic Bobsled Team that competed in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, and then Dan was a member of the Bronze Medal winning bobsled team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. 

As the program director Akers, EIU added six All-American honors in 2012 with Zye Boey earning three honors in indoor and outdoor sprints.  Jade Riebold became the program’s first NCAA Division I Female All-American competing in the pole vault at the indoor and outdoor National Championships.  Riebold joined Boey with an Olympic Trials spot in the summer of 2012 but did not compete at the event.  EIU’s six All-American in 2012 was Mick Viken in the pole vault.  Riebold and Viken repeated as poel vault All-Americans in 2013 in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.  Riebold placed second in the nation in the indoor pole vault and third in the nation in the outdoor pole vault.  Other recent All-Americans under Akers leadership at EIU are javelin thrower Ron White (2000 & 2002) and hurdler Gabe Spezia, who earned his honors twice in the 1999 and 2000 NCAA indoor meets in the high hurdles. White placed sixth nationally in 2002.

In 2009 EIU climbed as high as No. 33 in the Indoor National rankings as senior David Holm and freshman Zye Boey both advanced to the NCAA Indoor National Championships. Boey would later advance to the NCAA Outdoor National Championships finishing off one of the most successful track seasons in EIU history. Boey again burst onto the national scene in 2011 as he placed 7th at the NCAA Indoor National Championships in the 200m earning first team All-American honors. He earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2011 during the outdoor season advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 100m dash.

From 1990-94, Akers was a member of the department of Exercise and Sport Sciences at the University of Arizona. During his tenure there, he served as the assistant track coach at Palo Verde High School in 1992, and then started the boys/girls track program at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson.

Akers received his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 1979. While there he was a two-time co-captain and set school and conference records in the 110 and 400 meter hurdles. His conference record in the 110 stood for 17 years until broken in 1996. An eight-time national qualifier, he earned 1979 All-American honors in the 400 hurdles.

He and his wife, Joelyn, have two sons, Clayton and Blake.