Catching Up With Track All-American Kelly MacDonald (now Bean)
by Jenna Hillman, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Class of 2021
After graduating from Arizona State University in 2002, Kelly MacDonald (and now Kelly Bean) -- was not aware that relationships she built over the past five years would prepare her for her future position at Cloud 9 Sports.
Bean -- click here to find her on Instagram -- was an accomplished Oregonian high school student-athlete in not one, but three varsity sports, including cross country, track and basketball. With collegiate offers from programs all over the country in both cross country and basketball, Bean was faced with a difficult decision.
One coach in particular had caught her attention, ASU's cross country coach Walt Drenth. During an informal visit to ASU, Bean was able to meet Drenth. While there, Drenth enticed Bean with talk of building a program that would put ASU cross country on the map. Drenth, who recently retired from Michigan State as one of the most respected and highly regarded coaches in the country, was selling Kelly on not only individual but team success.
"I think I knew immediately," said Bean. "My parents say that the look on my face said 'she wants to go to school here'."
Drenth's coaching and vision about personal and team success had a lasting impact on Bean and led her to pursue her own coaching career post graduation.
"I wanted to give back," Bean said. "I wanted to help those coming up and make sure they have a great experience as a student-athlete."
"Coach Walt also showed me the power of mentoring, as many of his staff had a profound effect on my ASU experience as well. Jason Dunn (just retired from Virginia), Corey Ihmels (Boise State head coach) and Louie Quintana (Oregon State head coach) all began building their careers in Tempe.
THE KELLY MacDONALD FILE
--B.A. in art education (magna cum laude) and a 3.60 GPA
-Four-time All-American in track and a 1999 All-American in cross country
-Won three Pac-10 titles on the track, including two 5000m crowns (2000, 2001) and the inaugural 3000m steeplechase (2001)
-Set ASU records in the indoor 5000m, outdoor 5000m and 3000m steeplechase
Wanting to be a role model to collegiate runners, the way Drenth had been to her, Bean ran after her own coaching career after earning ASU's Tom Hansen medal of honor in 2002.
In 2002, Bean was hired as an assistant cross country and track & field coach at University of Washington, where she helped build the program into a national presence as the women's team won the NCAA title in 2008. She then went to Cal Poly where she coached from 2010 to 2014; and had the opportunity to work alongside Mark Conover, as the duo was able to ignite success in the Mustang program that had not happened in quite some time.
"At the time I was a bit skeptical to get back into coaching as I was interested in something outside the sport but I am forever thankful to Mark for convincing me to move to San Luis Obispo and help build his program. The connections made during my time at Cal Poly have become friendships that will last a lifetime. A day does not go by without a conversation or text from one of the athlete's from my time there. I've also been fortunate through my time at SLO to help several of the athletic teams through Cloud 9, so that has been special."
After thirteen years of coaching, Bean made the decision to switch up the pace a little bit and join Cloud 9 Sports, a sports apparel company founded by former coaches and athletes; and co-owned by Bean's brother-in-law, Scott Hassmann. A long-time consumer of sports apparel uniquely positioned Bean for this role in customer service and sales.
Bean's current role at Cloud 9 Sports allows her to form new and cultivate old relationships with student-athletes and programs from her past. Including relationships she built within the ASU community.
"I love sports, I love good people. I guess in the way that Coach Drenth sold me on a vision as a Sun Devil and then followed through on it has really stuck. Formerly as a coach and now at Cloud 9, I am trying to do the same, be in the sports and business world helping people see their goals to fruition all while building relationships."
Cloud 9 Sports has given Bean that same "team" feeling that she had experienced in her time at ASU. While her new position has her off the track most days, the flexibility in her role allows her to still break away for a run every now and then.
"I still like to run, so I try and incorporate that into the day too," Bean said.
When asked if Bean could summarize her experience at ASU and the impact it has had on her career, she enthusiastically replied with, "People make the place." And, coincidentally, that's exactly how she feels about her experience at Cloud 9 Sports, which is what has made her journey so fulfilling.
Jenna Hillman is a senior in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism who will graduate in the fall of 2021. Originally from Mesa, Arizona, she has worked in ASU's Cronkite PR Lab in her Sun Devil undergraduate career.