Joe Sousa, former head coach of the MIT women’s cross country and outdoor track and field teams, passed away June 8 after battling pancreatic cancer. He began his seven-year tenure at MIT in 1991 with the cross country program and led the outdoor track and field team in its inaugural varsity season the following spring.
The 1995 New England Women’s 8 Conference (NEW 8) Cross Country Coach of the Year, Sousa led the Engineers to three consecutive runner-up finishes at the conference championship meet. His athletes recorded a trio of NEW 8 individual champion titles and Runner of the Year honors in addition to 11 All-Conference selections and two Rookie of the Year awards.
Sousa guided the Cardinal and Gray to then-Institute best 11th-place finishes at the 1994 and 1995 NCAA New England Division III Regional Championship, while seven athletes collected All-New England accolades. He also produced the program’s first NCAA Championship individual qualifier and All-America recipient in Janis Eisenberg.
Under Sousa’s tutelage, the outdoor track and field program posted a pair of third-place finishes at the NEW 8 Championship and registered 10 event victories. MIT totaled seven top-five individual performances at the New England Division III Championship, including five runners-up. At the All-New England Championship in 1998, Lila French captured second place in the pole vault, one year after becoming the first MIT woman to compete in the event. As a testament to his development of the program, several of the records set during his career continue to be among the top 10 performances in Institute history.
“What Joe brought to his athletes was a genuine concern about the person he was coaching, not just the product on the track or in the field,” said Halston Taylor, MIT’s current director of cross country and track and field. “Joe wanted his athletes to love life and the sport of track and field. Those whom he coached were touched in a very special way and will remember him always for what he brought to their lives as student-athletes. Joe was a great colleague and a true friend.”
A wake will be held on Tuesday, June 14 at the Brown and Hickey Funeral Home (36 Trapelo Road, Belmont, Mass.) from 4:00-8:00 p.m., with the funeral service occurring the next day at St. Anthony’s Church (400 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, Cambridge, Mass.) at 9:00 a.m.