Ferguson-McKenzie new assistant track and field coach

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

From one Bahamian connection to another, head coach Rolando 'Lonnie' Greene has added illustrious 'Golden Girl' Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie as an assistant coach on his staff at the University of Kentucky.

Greene, who left Purdue University in July where he served as head coach and was joined by now head coach Norbert Elliott as his assistant, named Ferguson-McKenzie during a press conference yesterday.

"I want to be one of the first to welcome coach Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie to the University of Kentucky," Greene said.

"She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in this noble profession of ours. She will bridge the gap between coach Tim Hall and myself. I am excited for her to get started on our staff."

While Greene made the transition from Purdue and the Big 10 Conference to Kentucky and the South Eastern Conference, Ferguson-McKenzie came over from the University of Houston and the American Athletic Conference where she served as an assistant under coach Leroy Burrell for the past four years to the SEC as well.

"I'm thankful to coach Lonnie Greene and the UK administration for giving me the opportunity to work with the Wildcats," Ferguson-McKenzie said. "Being able to work within the SEC is an honour and a privilege.

"I want to also thank Houston and every one I worked with there. Now I'm so honoured and excited to be with UK."

Since she became a member of the staff at Houston at the start of the 2014-2015 season, Ferguson-McKenzie went on to coach some of the top competitors to success, including Tori Williams, Sierra Smith, Bria Carter and Bahamian Brianne Bethel, who competed along with her injured twin sister Brittni.

Before she ventured into coaching, Ferguson-McKenzie has excelled from the junior level at the regional CARIFTA Games to the Olympic Games where she has produced 52 medals in international competition for the Bahamas during her stellar career that spanned more than three decades.

The 10-time Bahamian national 100 and 200 metre national champion won gold, silver and bronze medals in her five appearances at the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, Sydney, Australia in 2000, Athens, Greece in 2008, Beijing, China in 2008 and London, England in 2012.

The 42-year-old Ferguson-McKenzie has also won four medals at the International Amateur Athletic Federation's World Championships in Seville, Spain in 1999, Edmonton, Canada in 2001 and Berlin, Germany in 2009.

She also captured three Commonwealth Games medals, all in Manchester, England in 2002, a Pan American Games medal in Winnipeg, Canada in 1999, eight medals from the Central American and Caribbean Championships, two World Athletics Final in Monaco in 2004 and Stuttgart, Germany in 2007 and four in the Continental Cup.

Regarded as probably the most decorated Bahamian female sprinter, Ferguson-McKenzie also has 18 medals from the CARIFTA Games in collection as well as the Austin Sealy Award as the most outstanding athlete.

Ferguson-McKenzie, who once projected to become a pediatrician, excelled for CC Sweeting before she went to St Andrew's High School where she graduated as a deputy head girl and later completed her college education at the University of Georgia.