Photos By NDSU & OSU Athletics
Even as her last season competing came to a close in 2008, sixth-year senior Cody Halsey continued to set breakout benchmarks with NDSU. Day two of the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships marked Halsey’s first time ever running the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She not only won the race, she broke the Summit League championship meet record in the long distance event.
In the same year, Halsey clocked times at the Drake Relay alongside her teammates in the 4×800-meter and 4×1600 that still remain at the top of the Bison record book today. As a middle-distance runner, she was no stranger to training in other events, too.
“At one point Stevie [Keller] wanted to turn me into a pole-vaulter my freshman year but we decided that wasn’t a great idea,” said Halsey. “After a few practices, my Achilles were not holding up so that didn’t go well, but he was an excellent coach.”
KEEPING UP CONNECTIONS
While she wasn’t coached directly by NDSU’s new head coach of women’s track and field, Stevie Keller, the connections she built in the close-knit program are still going strong today as she takes on a new role at Oklahoma State University.
“NDSU is like a family so even though he wasn’t my coach, I really respected him, and same thing goes for coach (Don) Larson,” said Halsey. “I see these guys at meets now and I’m still really excited and give them big hugs. The atmosphere at NDSU is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Now in Stillwater, Oklahoma, for her position with the Cowboys, she serves as the assistant coach for middle-distance and distance runners under head coach Dave Smith. While she’s almost 1,000 miles south of Fargo, the program has a similar feel to her start in collegiate athletics with the Bison.
“A lot of what I’ve loved about coming to Oklahoma State is it reminded me of North Dakota State,” said Halsey. “The whole town rallies behind OSU Athletics, which is what Fargo does for NDSU. That drew me in here. I get the same passionate feeling here as I got at NDSU. It’s similar that way and something that is very special to me.
“My first day here in Stillwater, I dropped my dog off at a kennel and the guy working there was just as excited about the track and field program as I was. It’s the same thing when you go to the grocery store wearing an OSU track and field shirt. It doesn’t even have to be someone I know, everyone rallies behind OSU Athletics.”
AT A NEW LEVEL
As a part of the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma State goes head-to-head with some of the most competitive track and field programs in the country. In addition to their team success, four OSU athletes made the jump from competing at the collegiate level to the pros.
“I’ve never been a part of that on the coaching end, so it was exciting to see two women and two men take that next step,” said Halsey. “Oklahoma State is definitely a powerhouse as far as distance and mid-distance events go. I feel very lucky and fortunate to be a part of this program. I think it’s one of the best in the country and I’ve learned so much. To be in this environment is exciting and really different.”
At the start of her track and field career, Halsey competed for Harlowton High School in her hometown of Martinsdale, Montana. In her senior year alone, she won the 100, 200, 400, 800, 4×400, 4×800, and the 4×100 at state and took home her fourth consecutive victory in the 800-meter.
In addition to her time setting records with NDSU, Halsey was equally committed to her studies, earning undergraduate degrees in zoology (pre-med) and art with an emphasis in painting and photography. After her sixth year as a student-athlete with the Bison, due to a redshirt season and an injury that sidelined her for a season, she stayed on with NDSU as a volunteer assistant coach from 2008-2010 and then 2013-2014.
ATHLETE TURNED COACH
Halsey’s introduction into the coaching field was the result of encouragement from her head coach, Ryun Godfrey, who recognized her ability to lead and contagious passion for the sport.
“I remember Ryun and I had just finished a workout the summer before I moved away, and after we went for breakfast,” remembered Halsey. “He said, ‘Cody, what are you going to do with your life?’ and I said, ‘Ryun, don’t ask me questions like that, I don’t know.’ He suggested I think about coaching.”
After learning about an opening with a relatively young track and field program at St. Louis University, Halsey took her first leap into coaching outside NDSU with the Billikens.
“I flew out there still thinking, ‘I’m not going to take the job, there’s no way I’m doing this but I’ll go out there for the experience,’ but then I decided to go for it and see where it took me,” said Halsey. “It was a really good decision, but ultimately I think it was Ryun that got that started for me.”
In just two years working as an assistant coach at SLU, all of Halsey’s athletes set personal bests and 19 school records were broken since she joined the coaching staff. In contrast with the well-established program she currently works with at OSU, Halsey saw a grassroots growth of the program at SLU.
“Before I started, there was one full-time coach and one part-time coach,” said Halsey. “I think one of the biggest reasons they had success was just having an individual in that position who was invested and cared. They were easy to help to get to the next level and very passionate, so the fact they had someone there who was as passionate as they were could have honestly been where that success came from.”
As she moved from a program in the heart of St. Louis’ metro area, Halsey brought her newfound knowledge of coaching as well as recruits to the campus community outside the smaller Oklahoma town. Once again, she experienced the parallels of a successful team even in a brand new region. Even though the OSU program was considerably different, the importance of relationships remained unaltered.
“Dave [Smith] is big on relationships and wants our staff to be like our student athletes,” said Halsey. “They’re a close-knit family, and he wants that for our staff too, so we spend a lot of time together.”
While she might not wear the same green and gold gear, the pride Halsey felt as a Bison is noticeable on and off the track in her respect for the program, her eagerness to learn from the professionals she works alongside and the passion she spreads to student-athletes.