Ray Stanfield, who has spent more than 20 years coaching track and field in the college and high school ranks, is in his sixth year at the helm of UAB's track and field and cross country programs.
Under Stanfield's tutelage, the Blazers have continued to improve every year and 2006 proved to be their most successful season yet, capped off by winning the 2006 Conference USA Cross Country Championship. UAB placed three runners in the top 10 and four athletes on the All-Conference USA team. Whitney Mays, Elizabeth Hilligoss, Katie Stepp and Kristina Olsen all earned spots on the all-conference squad. In addition, Stanfield was honored as the C-USA Coach of the Year for leading the Blazers to such heights in `06.
In 2005, UAB's Elizabeth Ambrus became the first UAB runner to capture the individual title at the Conference USA Cross Country Championships, leading the Blazers to a second-place finish at the championships. UAB's second-place performance as a team is the best in school history. Additionally, Ambrus was named first team all-conference for her performance. Sophomore Elizabeth Hilligoss earned a spot on the All-Conference USA second team, while Whitney Mays and Jakia Williams were named third team all-conference. Williams was also named Freshman of the Year by the conference making her the second straight Blazer to receive the award, as Hilligoss was the 2004 winner. The Blazers then tallied their best-ever finish at the NCAA South Regional Championships, as UAB placed fourth overall. Ambrus, who led the Blazers with an eight-place finish, and Hilligoss were named to the All-South region team as well. It was the second such honor for Hilligoss. Ambrus capped off the season by placing 57th at the NCAA National Championships after receiving an at-large bid.
In 2004, UAB's cross country team continued to perform at the standard of excellence that Stanfield has set. The Blazers finished ninth at the NCAA South Region Championships after a third place finish at the Conference USA Championships. The third place finish was the best in school history. Sophomore Elizabeth Ambrus was named first team All-Conference USA after finishing third overall in the meet. Ambrus was also named C-USA Cross Country Female Athlete of the Week for the weeks of Sept. 14 and Sept. 21 during the season. Additionally, freshman Elizabeth Hilligoss was named to the All-Conference USA second team at the C-USA Championships, as well as being named C-USA Freshman of the Year. Hilligoss also earned a spot on the all-region team after a 23rd-place finish overall at the NCAA South Region Championships.
In 2003 the Blazers recorded their highest-ever finish at the Conference USA Championships, as they placed in a tie for fourth overall. What made the feat even more impressive was the fact that UAB had 11 newcomers and only two seniors on the team. Senior Amanda Kara was named to the all-conference team after placing ninth overall at the championships. UAB also finished in a tie for 11th at the NCAA South Region Championships. Kara was the Blazers' highest finisher in the meet, placing 31st.
In his first season at the helm, his team garnered national recognition as an Academic All-American team and received the Conference USA Academic Award for having the highest GPA.
Stanfield has coached Olympians, All-Americans and NCAA Champions and has also earned Coach of the Year honors in Texas and Louisiana.
Stanfield has been nationally recognized as an outstanding recruiter while coaching at Rice, McNeese, Sam Houston and Samford. He has signed numerous state champions and high school All-Americans.
Stanfield began his coaching career in 1976 at the high school level. He spent seven years as a high school coach in Texas. While at Canton (Texas) High School, he was named the state's 2000 U.S. Running Cross Country Coach of the Year after leading his team to the Texas State Championship. Previous high school coaching experience for Stanfield includes head coach at Crockett High School (1998-2000), head coach at Corrigan-Camden High School (1995-96) and head coach at Huntsville High School (1988-94). Stanfield has led his teams to numerous high school state championships.
In 1982, Stanfield became the assistant coach at Rice University, coaching the 400-meters and down and the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay teams. Under his tutelage, two Owl relay teams finished as runners-up at the NCAA Championships in 1985 and 1986. His 400 meter relay team placed second in 1985, while his indoor mile relay team placed third in 1986. While at Rice, he also coached Canadian Olympian Courtney Brown, as well as Jamaican Olympian and two-time 1000 meter NCAA Champion Gawain Guy. Also, two of his sprinters were Olympic Trials finalists, Elliston Stinson and Steven Hall (1984).
Stanfield has also coached collegiately at McNeese State (head coach, 1993-94), Sam Houston State (assistant coach, 1987-88) and Samford University (assistant coach, 2001-02). While at McNeese State, his women's team won the Louisiana Collegiate Championship in 1993.
Stanfield received his degree in secondary education in 1978 from Mid-America Bible College in Oklahoma City. He later earned a Masters degree in Kinesiology at Sam Houston State in 1988. Stanfield began his college career as a student at Hardin-Simmons on a basketball scholarship. He was all-conference three times in basketball and an All-American as a senior.
Stanfield still competes in road races and Master's events in track. He was the Master's Southeast Region 5,000 Champion in 2001. He has also completed 13 marathons.
Stanfield is married to the former Patricia Conway of Houston. They have two children (twins): Tori and Tyler. Tyler is currently training as a professional tri-athlete Tyler spent his first two seasons at Alabama, where he was an All-SEC performer in track in 2003 and the 2002 Freshman of the Year for the South Region in Cross Country. He also spent the 2004-05 season at Houston, where he finished second at the Conference USA Cross Country championships and helped the Cougars win the 2004 C-USA cross country, indoor and outdoor championships.