Rosalind Joseph believes everything she’s done over the last two decades has led her to where she is now.
Back when Joseph (then Rosalind Goodwin) was competing for Ohio State’s track and field team, she had visions of becoming a coach. After an illustrious career for the Buckeyes in which she won six Big Ten championships in the triple jump and long jump and earned All-American honors in the triple jump twice, Joseph became an assistant coach at Auburn. She returned to Ohio State in 2008 and was one of Karen Dennis’ assistant coaches for a decade until she became the head coach at Southern Illinois in 2018.
Because of her love for her alma mater, it wasn’t easy for Joseph to leave Ohio State four years ago. But she knew that was what she had to do if she hoped to eventually become the head coach at her alma mater.
“It was tough to leave as an assistant, and a lot of the conversations even with (Ohio State athletic director) Gene Smith was, ‘You have to get some leadership experience, you have to get some head coach experience,’” Joseph said. “I never knew that this would come full circle, but I took that as an indication that that's something that I really needed to garner to be able to come back here.”
“This is a dream come true,” Joseph said Wednesday at her introductory press conference. “The main reason that I chose The Ohio State University is because I felt like I could do anything here. That was my sentiment coming here as a student-athlete. And so to come full circle and feel like I wanted to be in this profession, and now be able to do it here, it really just solidifies that first thought my first time on campus that this is a place where you can do anything. And so this is really a dream come true in terms of me coming back to my second home.”
Joseph knows she has big shoes to fill. Dennis won 12 Big Ten championships as Ohio State’s director of track and field, most recently leading both the men’s and women’s teams to titles at this year’s Big Ten outdoor championships.
But Joseph believes the experience she’s gained over the past 20 years as an athlete and assistant coach for the Buckeyes and as a head coach at Southern Illinois has prepared her well for the challenge she’s taking on.
“I think initially it's a scary thought, because those are huge shoes to fill,” Joseph said. “But after a lot of thought, it would be for anyone in the country. I'm very confident that anybody that walked in would have to fill those shoes. And so I like to say I know the designer, at least … Just to be able to watch (how Dennis built her program) and be a part of it, I really do feel poised to take the baton and continue that legacy.”
Like Dennis did for her final eight years at Ohio State, Joseph will oversee both the men’s and women’s track and field programs for the Buckeyes. While it remains uncommon for women to lead men’s sports teams, Joseph also coached both genders at Southern Illinois, and seeing Dennis coach both genders successfully in Columbus empowered Joseph to believe she could do it, too.
“When I first got into the business, that was something that was almost unheard of, when we talk about women coaching men. And so to really watch her do it, be under her tutelage to see how it’s been done and been done well, it's almost kind of negating the notion that women can't coach men, and more so in doing it has given me confidence to do it,” Joseph said. “Being able to watch her do it has given me the confidence to know that it is not really something I should have to explain or be prepared for. I'm Coach, and the men and the women have taken that in stride and have been able to buy in and do some really great things together.”
As of Wednesday, Joseph said she had not yet decided whether she would retain Dennis’ assistant coaches or replace them with new assistant coaches. She said she is planning to talk to Ohio State’s administration about upgrading the indoor facility for track and field, as she believes the Buckeyes – who have been competing in the French Field House since 1956, though it was renovated in 2009 – have fallen behind in that regard.
“I think there is a rat’s race when it comes to indoor facilities,” Joseph said. “It is hard to watch some conference schools build and kind of, I feel like they're beating us, I don't like that.”
That said, Joseph believes Ohio State is firmly committed to providing the best possible experience for its student-athletes both inside and outside of athletics.
“When I look at what's been done across the campus, it's obvious that there's investment in the overall student experience, and that's something that I'm proud of,” Joseph said.
“This is really a dream come true in terms of me coming back to my second home.”– Rosalind Joseph on becoming Ohio State’s director of track and field
Joseph, who still holds the school records in the indoor triple jump and outdoor long jump, has lived that through her own career as an Ohio State athlete and witnessed it through her previous decade coaching at Ohio State. Because of that, Joseph leaped at the opportunity to return to Columbus and lead the program she loves.
“I was always gonna watch it as a fan because I came through here and it's given me so much, so now just to be back and be able to be a part of continuing the tradition and molding more Buckeye student-athletes, I mean, it's incredible,” Joseph said. “All the things that I've done, I hope were leading to this moment. So I hope that for alums, for future prospective student-athletes or current student-athletes understand that I really built sort of my career trying to be here.”