New coach Joe Hazera takes cross country teams to states


Dave Tibbetts

Coach Joe Hazera gives advice to runners before they run in the FHSAA Cross Country State Championship meet.

It was at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida, when something that hasn’t happened since 2019 occurred – both the boys and girls cross country teams made the state championship. This is impressive to fans on its own, but even more so considering these teams did it in the first season with a brand new head coach. 

Joe Hazera is the new Oviedo boys and girls cross country coach and has extensive running experience, starting at a young age in high school. After running at the high school level, Hazera committed to Florida State University to run at the collegiate level.

“I learned many lessons at Florida State, such as you don’t always have to be the fastest, but the most dedicated, competitive and mentally tough,” Hazera said.

Once Hazera finished college, he went on to compete at the professional level as a Nike athlete.

“While I was running pro, I had to dedicate the next 11 years of my life to running,” Hazera said. “I wasn’t able to get married until I was 33 or get a different job besides running. I had to give running all of my time and energy.”

After taking a long break from running, Hazera returned back to the sport he loves to coach at Pembroke Pines Charter High School and later at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

“I worked for multiple county parks departments after I retired from running professionally,” Hazera said. “A job was open to coach at a different high school and actually had that suggested to me so I took that position.”

While coaching at Pembroke Pines Charter, Hazera won 2011 FACA Coach of the Year and 2011 Broward County Coach of the Year. Then at St. Thomas Aquinas, Hazera won Broward County Coach of the year in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. During his time in St. Thomas Aquinas, Hazera would guide the Raiders to win the 2015 and 2016 FHSAA Boys Cross Country State Championships. Hazera would also coach the girls track and field team to help them win the 2018, 2019, and 2021 FHSAA Girls Track and Field State Championships.