Gary Droze, one of the most widely known names in Tallahassee's vast running community, is entering his fourth season as head coach of Tallahassee Community College's running program.
Droze was announced as the Eagles' first-ever cross country coach on April 18, 2016, and led the women's team onto the trials later that year. His role has expanded three times since: in 2017, when Tallahassee announced the addition of the men's team; in 2018, when the Eagles' running program grew to include women's outdoor track; and in 2019, when men's track came on board.
While he is in the building stage for the Eagles, Droze has already blazed a legendary career at Tallahassee's Maclay School, where he coached the Marauders' cross country and track teams from 1993 through 2019. Though he retired from coaching at Maclay, Droze continues to serve as a faculty member.
Droze's Maclay teams were the gold standard, not just in Tallahassee but the state of Florida. He coached Maclay's boys and girls cross country and track teams to a combined 20 FHSAA state titles - boys cross country (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002), girls cross country (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005), boys track (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 20100 and girls track (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2013) - and 16 additional runners-up finishes. His teams also won 55 combined regional titles and 83 combined district titels, and he helped guide runners to a whopping 57 individual and relay state championships. For 23 consecutive years, Droze qualified Maclay's boys and girls cross country teams for the FHSAA State Championships.
Droze's numerous accolades include: 2013 Dairy Farmers Boys Track & Field Coach of the Year, 2014 Florida Athletic Coaches’ Association Girls Track Coach of the Year and 2015 Tallahassee Democrat Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year following Maclay’s runners-up finish at the Class 1A State Cross Country Meet.
In 2018, Droze received his most prestigous honor yet when he was inducted in the Florida High School Athletic Association's Hall of Fame.
Droze has served on both the FHSAA Track & Field and Cross Country Advisory Committees, has coached the Florida Athletic Coaches Association North Cross Country All-Stars and served as a featured speaker at cross country seminars around the Southeast.
Droze ran collegiately at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he was the team’s most valuable player in 1982 and earned a bachelor’s degree in academics in 1983. While stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Fla., Droze began his coaching career as the assistant track and cross country coach at Choctawhatchee High School from 1983-86.
He earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Florida State University in 1996.