Assistant Coach Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie enters her fourth season at the University of Houston after joining the program in 2014-15.
In 2017, Ferguson-McKenzie helped lead senior Tori Williams to the indoor title in 200-meter dash title, while Sierra Smith claimed silver medals in each of the 60- and 200-meter dashes. During the outdoor slate, Ferguson-McKenzie's saw freshman Brianne Bethel take home a pair of silver medals in each of the 100- and 200-meter dashes..
“When Seun Adigun stepped down to pursue other career opportunities, I felt we needed a person with the caliber of Olympic experience that already exists on our staff as a role model for our women,” Burrell said. “Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie provides that and then some.”
Ferguson-McKenzie had an immediate impact on the squad, and led sophomore Bria Carter to an American Athletic Conference Individual Championship in the 60m dash during the indoor season.
Ferguson-McKenzie’s women’s sprinters and hurdlers would go on to qualify three student-athletes to the NCAA West Regional including Carter along with senior Sade-Mariah Greenidge and sophomore Tori Williams. Greenidge would go on to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 100m hurdles along with the women’s 4x100m relay team.
As an athlete, Ferguson-McKenzie has won 52 medals in international competition including her Olympic and world championship medals, and was a 10-time Bahamas national champion in the 100- and 200-meter sprints. She is looking to bring the same hard work and persistence that earned her those medals to the Cougars.
Ferguson-McKenzie was a specialist at the 100- and 200-meter sprints, represented the Bahamas in five Olympic Games - Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 - and was a three-time Olympic medalist and four-time medalist at world championships.
In her time away from the track, Ferguson-McKenzie has built a charitable reputation while spending time as a motivational speaker, mentor and teen pregnancy counselor since 1994 and working with the Willamae Pratt Center for Girls, the Simpson Penn Center for Boys and the Bahamas Humane Society. She has also served as a member of the IAAF Athlete’s Commission and was nominated as a Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.