One of the nation's most versatile assistant coaches, Jim VanHootegem was named a Mondo Regional Assistant Coach of the Year for his work with A&M's jumpers by the United States Track Coaches Association this past June at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif.
VanHootegem is responsible for coaching athletes in the jumps and combined events. Among his other responsibilities, he shares recruiting duties with the rest of the staff and acts as the coaching staff liason with the academic services staff which helps monitor the academic progress of the Aggie track and field team.
During his 15 years of collegiate coaching, VanHootegem has been successful at every stop. He has been a member of coaching staffs that have won five NCAA Championship team titles and 14 conference crowns.
VanHootegem has served assistant coaching stints at Miami, Fla. (2001-04), San Diego State (2001), Mississippi State (1998-2000) and Arkansas (1994-96), and also served as head track and field coach at North Park University in Chicago (1991-94).
It hasn't taken long for VanHootegem to make an impact in College Station. This past June, he 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 the 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 at the national meet. 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.
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 seven 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 (9), Quin (6) and Olivia (3).