Jim VanHootegem, in his ninth season with the Texas A&M track and field program, coaches the Aggie jumpers and multi-event athletes. Among other responsibilities with the Aggie program, VanHootegem shares recruiting duties with the rest of the staff and acts as a coaching staff liaison with the academic services staff, which helps monitor the academic progress of the 120-plus students on the A&M track and field teams.
In 2009 VanHootegem earned the NCAA Division I Men’s National Assistant Coach of the Year honor, awarded by USTFCCCA, and in 2010 he was named South Central Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. VanHootegem also garnered the 2006 Mondo Regional Assistant Coach of the Year honor.
During his 23 years of collegiate coaching, VanHootegem has been successful at every stop. He has been a member of coaching staffs that have won 12 NCAA Championship team titles and 31 conference crowns.
In his nine seasons with the Aggies, the A&M program has achieved seven NCAA Outdoor Championships along with claiming 14 Big 12 team titles, four for the men and 10 for the women and this season the first SEC title when the women won the outdoor championship. A&M athletes competing in VanHootegem’s event areas have achieved 57 All-America honors and have established 13 school records, eight indoors and five outdoors.
VanHootegem has served assistant coaching stints at Miami, Fla. (2001-04), San Diego State (2001), Mississippi State (1998-2000) and Arkansas (1994-96). He was also a head track and field coach at North Park University in Chicago (1991-94).
In 2009 when Texas A&M won the first of three men’s and women’s NCAA Outdoor team titles, becoming the first school to accomplish the feat in track and field, the Aggie jumpers supplied the men’s team with 18 points as they finished 2-4-6-7 with the foursome of Julian Reid, Zuheir Sharif, Tyron Stewart and Melvin Echard.
Reid also placed fourth in the long jump for five points while Trinity Otto added two points with a seventh-place effort in the decathlon. Those five athletes combined for 25 of the Aggies 48 points. Three teams tied for second behind A&M with 46 points apiece. The women’s team winning effort in 2009 was assisted by a runner-up finish from Yasmine Regis in the triple jump.
During the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships a second and third place finish in the triple jump from Stewart and Sharif contributed 14 points while Otto produced a third place effort in the decathlon for six points. Three athletes from VanHootegem’s event areas combined for 20 of the Aggie men’s 55 points in a one-point victory over Florida for a second national team title.
Heptathlete Daphne Fitzpatrick placed fourth in the 2011 NCAA meet while Julian Reid and Melvin Echard finished third and seventh in the triple jump as Texas A&M secured its third set of dual NCAA Championships. The Aggie women won the team title by four points over Oregon, while the men had another one-point margin of victory over Florida State.
On the conference level VanHootegem has produced 17 champions in his event areas while at Texas A&M, the latest being LaQue Moen-Davis as the SEC Indoor triple jump winner in February of 2013. Within the Big 12 conference, VanHootegem generated eight indoor champions and eight outdoor champions.
In his first season with the Aggies, in 2005, VanHootegem coached Fabrice Lapierre to A&M's first-ever NCAA Championship in the long jump. VanHootegem had male athletes in four of the five events he coaches competing at the 2005 NCAA outdoor meet, including Andrew Gamble, who captured his first and only Big 12 triple jump title of his career at the outdoor conference meet, and Allen Bulick, who earned All-America honors in the decathlon. By the end of his first season in Aggieland, VanHootegem had at least one athlete qualify for the NCAA Championships in every discipline he coached.
Lapierre, who still trains with VanHootegem, has enjoyed a successful post-collegiate career. In 2010 Lapierre won the World Indoor Championship and earned gold at the Commonwealth Games later that summer to improve upon a bronze medal Commonwealth finish in 2006.
Representing Australia at the World Championships and Olympic Games, Lapierre placed fourth in Berlin during the 2009 World Championships and jumped in the qualifying round of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Lapierre also claimed the long jump title at the World Athletics Final in 2008 and 2009.
During his stint at the University of Miami, where his staff won five Big East Coaching Staff of the Year honors, VanHootegem helped the Hurricane women's squad to five Big East titles including sweeps of the Big East indoor and outdoor team crowns in 2003 and 2004. His long and triple jumpers won six Big East crowns, and he helped develop UM's school record holder in the pentathlon and heptathlon. Overall the Hurricanes established nine school-records in field and combined events during VanHootegem's tenure.
Among his pupils were Kareen Clarke, the 2002 NCAA third-place finisher in the triple jump both indoors and outdoors and Tabia Charles who was named the Big East Most Outstanding Field Performer in 2004. Charles broke the Big East outdoor meet record in the triple jump at the 2004 outdoor championships.
Before joining the staff at the University of Miami, VanHootegem coached at San Diego State where he guided Aja Frary to the Mountain West Conference heptathlon title and to a third-place finish at the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Her total of 5753 points at the NCAA Championships established a new Mountain West Conference record.
Prior to his stint at San Diego State, VanHootegem spent two seasons at Mississippi State (1998-2000) where he coached five NCAA qualifiers, three USATF Championships/Olympic Trials qualifiers, and 18 Southeastern Conference finalists including Rod Newton, the 2000 SEC champion in the high jump.
VanHootegem spent two and a half seasons at the University of Arkansas (1994-96) where he served as Administrative Assistant. His responsibilities included serving as recruiting coordinator and home meet management. During his tenure at Arkansas, the Razorbacks won five NCAA Championships and seven SEC titles including 55 NCAA All-Americans and 14 individual National Champions.
While at Arkansas he began coaching former Razorback sprinter Vincent Henderson. Under VanHootegem's tutelage, Henderson posted the 10th fastest time in the 100-meters (10.00) in US history in 1996. In 1997 Henderson went on to win gold medals in the 100-meters and 400-meter relay at the World University Games in Palermo, Italy.
VanHootegem also has head coaching experience having served three seasons in that capacity at North Park University of Chicago (1991-94).
VanHootegem's coaching success has extended off the track as well with 10 of his athletes having gone on to earn Arthur Ashe Jr. Sport Scholar distinction.
A Level II coach and instructor as certified by USA Track and Field, VanHootegem was a seven time All-American at North Central College from 1987-90. In 1989 he helped lead North Central College to the NCAA Division III indoor and outdoor national championships. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from North Central College in 1990. VanHootegem is married to the former Carmen Melendez, and the couple has three children: Tori (15), Quin (12) and Olivia (9).