Van Gilder named Assistant Coach of the Year

Matt Gad – Special to the Southern News

In his fourth season with Southern’s women’s track and field program, Coach Joseph Van Gilder has brought home the prestigious honor of being crowned Assistant Coach of the Year.

The United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association recognized Van Gilder as the East Regional Women’s Assistant Head Coach of the Year.  

“I have been working with Coach [Van Gilder] for three seasons now, and he has helped me improve my performance on the track and also in my overall confidence,” junior Shatajah Wattely said. “He helped me realize the potential I had as a leader on this team.”

Southern’s head women’s track and field coach, Melissa Stoll, and other women’s track and field head coaches throughout the Northeast-10 Conference and the rest of the Northeast region in Division II voted for Van Gilder.  

Described as someone who helps athletes “grow and succeed,” Van Gilder typically works with the female short sprinters. He is also Southern’s assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s cross country programs.  

Another one of the athletes Van Gilder coaches is junior Crystle Hill.  She described him as “a good communicator with a ton of respect.” Hill added that Van Gilder works very hard and was not surprised to hear that he won the award.

“He has an amazing relationship with the athletes and coaches,” Hill said. “He has the type of personality that meshes well with others, and he is able to work with all different types of people.”

When asked about what he personally felt about earning Assistant Coach of the Year, Van Gilder referred to it as simply, “a great honor.”

“We are all a big family,” Van Gilder said. “All of the coaches have respect for each other and everyone’s different styles.”

Wattely continued to express her gratitude towards her assistant coach.  

“Coach has helped me a great deal with my technique and form,” Wattely said. “Coming onto the team, I did not really know any specific drills to do during my warm-ups.”

Under Van Gilder’s teachings, Wattely has adapted to using the starting blocks and teaching her how to trust in the process.

Likewise to Hill’s remarks, Wattely was also not shocked when she heard the news of her assistant coach obtaining such a high honor.  

In addition to providing advice at practice, Van Gilder has also provided insight into one’s diet and lifestyle. However, Van Gilder stated that getting good grades is the most important thing.  

“If I have a bad workout or race, coach [Van Gilder] is always there to give me the proper advice on how to improve for next time,” said Hill.  “He works hard and deserved the recognition.”

Hill also noted that the chemistry between all of the coaching staff is excellent, and that everyone always compliments each other.  

Many of Southern’s female athletes also achieved All-American distinctions at the NCAA Championships on March 11.  The Owls had a superb 4×400 relay team that featured Wattely, Hill, Adriana Carrasco and Georgette Nixon.  Who all achieved All-American honors.  

After yet another highly successful season, Coach Van Gilder, who also works as an assistant for both programs in the spring for outdoor track, is ready to turn the page and focus on what is next down the road.

The women’s track and field program first outdoor meet will be the Yale Invitational on April 2.  

Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications


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