Jelani Scott | Sports Editor
Former Hampton men’s track & field coach Steven Lewis represented a recent portion of the program’s success and, during his time at Hampton, he established a culture of winning, mentorship and studenthood.
On January 23, the legendary coach passed away at the age of 72, leaving behind a legacy that extends across the track & field world.
In an article on the Hampton Pirates’ website, Maurice Pierce, the Director of Track & Field for the university, spoke fondly of the Newport News Track Hall of Fame inductee. “He was a great man who touched a lot of souls,” Pierce said. “I learned a lot from him and he will be truly missed.”
Lonza Hardy, who served as Director of Athletics at Hampton when Lewis was hired, also stated her thoughts on Lewis’ status in the sport.
“When Coach Lewis’ name was brought up while we were in search of a new men’s track & field coach, it quickly became apparent what a legend he was in the sport,” she said. “We were happy to recruit him, and even happier when he decided to accept the Hampton job.”
When he began his tenure prior to the 2008-09 campaign, he brought dozens of accolades and 40-plus years of of experience to the department. Lewis led 13 individual MEAC champions and 63 student-athletes who earned All-MEAC honors.
One of Lewis’ star pupils was 2012 Hampton graduate Reggie Dixon. He was 3-time All-American while at Hampton and went onto compete at the 2013 USA Indoor Track & Field Championship. Dixon placed second in the event and ran a 6.54, which stood as the fourth fastest time ran in the United States and eighth in the world at that time.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Lewis graduated from Virginia State College, now known as Norfolk State University, in 1964 with a B.S. in physical education.
Shortly after graduation, Lewis coached track, basketball, football and baseball at two Virginia high schools, Thomas Hunter and Mathews County, for a few years.
In 1970, he entered Menchville High School in Newport News, Virginia. and reinvigorated over the course of 11 years, coaching 34 All-Americans and winning 12 indoor and outdoor state championships.
In 1982, he moved to Pittsburgh and took over as head coach for both the men’s and women’s track teams at the University of Pittsburgh. For 20 years, Lewis guided 40 men and 95 women to Big East individual championship wins and coached 11 individual NCAA champions and 67 All-American runners.
From 2002-2005, Lewis served as an assistant coach with the women’s team at Eastern Michigan. While there, he coached four All-Americans, one NCAA regional champion, and helped Eastern Michigan place 16th in the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
He then spent three seasons at MEAC rival Delaware State before coming to Hampton.
“Coach Lewis was one of the top coaches at the high school level, as well as collegiate level, that I looked up to and wanted to be like,” Pierce said. “He was a legend in track & field, especially in the Tidewater area.”
Coach Steven Lewis was an impactful man that made his presence known wherever he went, a fact that Hardy made clear in her comments.
“He was a great coach and an even better person, and his loss is tremendous, not just for the student-athletes he coached, but for the world of track & field as a whole,” Hardy shared.