July 18, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Alan Turner, the University of Notre Dame’s associate head track and field coach the last two years and a member of the Irish staff for four seasons, has been named the new head coach of track and field and cross country at the University.
Turner takes over for Joe Piane who retired in May just prior to the end of his 39th season as Irish track and field and cross country coach. Piane had been the longest-tenured head coach on the Notre Dame athletics staff. Turner originally joined the Irish program in September 2010. After serving as an assistant coach for two years, he was elevated to associate head track and field coach in October 2012 while continuing to oversee the training of all Irish sprinters and hurdlers.
Turner becomes the third Notre Dame assistant to merit elevation to an Irish head coaching slot in the last two years — joining Ryan Sachire in men’s tennis (he served his first season as head coach in 2013-14, replacing the retired Bobby Bayliss) and Matt Tallman in men’s swimming (he takes over in 2014-15 following the retirement of Tim Welsh).
“Alan has earned this assignment based on his contributions to our program over the past four seasons,” says Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick. “He has an outstanding reputation in the track and field community, the coaching honors he has received are based on the top-notch quality of his work — and his promotion has been widely applauded by our team members. We look forward to watching Alan and his staff continue to build the competitive level of our men’s and women’s programs.”
In his four seasons on the Irish staff, Turner has made a quantifiable impact at Notre Dame and proven himself as one of the top assistant coaches in the country. He has tutored seven Atlantic Coast Conference and 17 BIG EAST Conference champions, 14 all-ACC and 57 all-BIG EAST performers — along with 18 first-team, six second-team and 22 honorable mention All-Americans. His student-athletes have broken 11 school individual and relay track and field records.
In the 2014 season alone, Turner’s student-athletes earned those four ACC championships and 14 all-ACC accolades. Between the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships, Turner coached his sprinters to 12 first-team All-America honors. Under Turner’s tutelage, junior Chris Giesting had a remarkable season for the Irish. Giesting earned All-America honors three times, was named the ACC Indoor Championships Most Valuable Performer after racking up 18 points and was also titled both the indoor and outdoor ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. For his efforts, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named Turner a regional assistant women’s coach of the year for 2014.
The fruits of Turner’s labor also were evident in 2013 as student-athletes under him won 10 BIG EAST championships (seven individual, three relay) and claimed 33 all-BIG EAST scrolls. In addition, the Irish earned four first-team and four second-team All-America citations during the indoor season, before claiming two second-team and 11 honorable mention All-America scrolls during the outdoor season. Highlighting that group was sophomore Jade Barber, the BIG EAST Indoor Track Athlete of the Meet and the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region’s Women’s Track Athlete of the Year during both the indoor and outdoor seasons after winning two BIG EAST individual crowns and two relay titles. Barber was named a first-team All-American once (60mH/indoor), a second-team All-American twice (100mH/outdoor, 4x400m relay/indoor) and an honorable mention All-American once (4x400m relay/outdoor). Barber later competed for the United States at the World University Games, winning a silver medal on the 4x100m relay.
Patrick Feeney in 2013 won his third straight BIG EAST 400m indoor title and finished fourth at the NCAA meet to earn first-team All-America honors (in a school record 45.92). Giesting was also a first-team All-American, finishing eighth at the NCAA indoor meet in the 400m. Giesting for the second straight year won the outdoor 400m BIG EAST title and was named co-BIG EAST Track Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year. Michelle Brown swept both the indoor and outdoor BIG EAST 400m titles and finished the year with five BIG EAST titles. For his efforts, Turner was named the 2013 USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region’s Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year during both the indoor and outdoor seasons and the Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the outdoor season.
2012 proved a brilliant season for Notre Dame sprinters and hurdlers, as three individuals won BIG EAST crowns — Nevada Sorenson (60mH), Feeney (400m/indoors) and Giesting (200m and 400m/outdoors), while the women’s 4x100m relay team also claimed the BIG EAST title. Turner’s student-athletes set seven Notre Dame school records — Indoors: Kaila Barber, 60mH at 8.27; Feeney, 400m at 46.55; Giesting, 500m at 1:01.28; women’s DMR with Natalie Geiger running the 400m leg, 11:04.45; men’s DMR with Giesting running the 400m leg, 9:35.48; Outdoors: Giesting, 400m in 46.03, men’s 4x400m relay in 3:06.20.
Giesting was named BIG EAST Men’s Outstanding Track Performer after winning the 200m and 400m titles as a freshman at the 2012 outdoor championship. He also ran the fastest 400m leg on the NCAA distance medley relay team that won the NCAA indoor title. Freshman Kaila Barber earned a bronze medal at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in the 400H.
In his first season in 2011, Turner coached Feeney, then a freshman, to a sweep of the BIG EAST 400m titles at the BIG EAST Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Feeney also was part of the All-America and Notre Dame record-setting distance medley relay that finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Four of his student-athletes qualified for the NCAA East Regionals.
Prior to Notre Dame, Turner spent five seasons at Southern Illinois University. While at Southern Illinois, Turner served as the coach for the men’s and women’s sprint and hurdle squads as well as the relay teams. Regarded as one of the top sprint coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference during his five years in the league, Turner mentored 17 MVC champions during his tenure and 25 individuals who earned runner-up finishes. Saluki student-athletes earned all-MVC honors on 65 occasions. He also coached 25 NCAA regional qualifiers and one NCAA national qualifier. He helped the Southern Illinois women wins MVC outdoor crowns in 2009 and 2010.
Prior to his arrival at Southern Illinois, Turner spent two years (2004-05) at Proviso East High School (Maywood, Ill.) as an assistant coach in the sprints and horizontal jumps. While at Proviso East he coached one junior national champion, three junior national qualifiers, two Illinois High School Association state champions, three all-state honorees and six sectional champions. Three of his athletes from the 2004 squad earned Division I track scholarships. Before taking the job Proviso East, Turner assisted triple jumper Kamau Sullivan in qualifying for the USATF Nationals in 1993 and 1994, as a member of the Nike Indiana Track Club.
An accomplished student-athlete in his own right, Turner knows a few things about performing for a high-caliber program. A 1992 graduate of Indiana University, Turner was a three-time All-American for the Hoosiers. He won five Big Ten titles (two long jump, two 400 meters and one 4×400 relay) and was a three-time team captain while leading Indiana to five consecutive Big Ten Conference team crowns. In 1991, he captured the NCAA indoor long jump title and was runner-up at the NCAA outdoor championships that same year. He also qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters and 4×100 relay. More than 20 years since accomplishing that feat, Turner still holds the Indiana record in the outdoor long jump. Outside of collegiate competition, Turner finished in the top eight in the long jump at the USA Outdoor Championships four times. He was a member of five U.S. National teams and won the gold medal at the 1991 World University Games in the long jump.
A native of North Chicago, Ill., Turner earned a bachelor’s degree in public finance from Indiana University in 1992. Professionally, Turner has worked as a trading assistant with Conseco Capital Management (Carmel, Ind.) and as a portfolio manager with First Chicago and Bank One (Chicago, Ill.).
Q&A with New Notre Dame Track and Field Coach Alan Turner
Today, Alan Turner becomes the eighth University of Notre Dame head track and field and cross country coach in program history. He replaces Joe Piane, who headed up the program for 39 years before stepping down following the 2013-14 season. Turner has served as associate head coach for the past two seasons and is going into his fifth season with the Irish. Additionally, following Turner’s success with the squad’s sprinters and hurdles, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has twice named him a regional assistant coach of the year.
Q: How have you grown as a coach since coming to Notre Dame in 2010?
Turner: What I’ve learned, not only in these past four years but since I’ve started coaching, is patience. So many times, when an athlete doesn’t get it right or doesn’t execute with the effort that you thought, you want to hammer them and get on them. But track is a process. You do a lot of training for more than 40 weeks. So I know it’s not always going to be perfect on day one, or great on day two. It’s a process and I’ve learned patience. And I hope that my student-athletes have learned to trust their training.
Q: What is different about coaching at Notre Dame?
Turner: A lot of people talk about family. This place is family. This group of workers is family. This school is family. At Notre Dame, it really is family. And if you want to see that — and I noticed it when I first came here — you come to a football weekend. The alumni come back. When you get on campus, the ushers and everyone else says, `Welcome to Notre Dame, welcome to Notre Dame.’ You don’t get that hospitality and family feeling a lot of other places, but you definitely get it here. The alumni love this place. They support this place. The students love this place. The people who work here love this place, and I love it, too.
Q: How does it feel to be in the same coaching position that Knute Rockne once held (1916-1927)?
Turner: Everyone knows he was the famous football coach and a lot of people don’t know that he actually coached track. I’m humbled. I’m just honored to be even in the same breath and associated with Notre Dame track and field and cross country.
Q: What did you learn from Joe Piane, who was one of the longest-tenured coaches in the history of Notre Dame athletics?
Turner: I learned from Joe when to push certain buttons. When to be really firm with athletes and when to back off. When to push them hard and when to ease up. When to be the disciplinarian and when to be that comforting hand. I learned how to just keep options open and how to wear multiple hats as a head coach.
Q: What will be your greatest challenge this year?
Turner: As associate head coach, a lot of times you have to focus just on your group. The challenge for me is focusing on everything and still getting the intricacies and nuances of every event. I can coach sprints and hurdles in my sleep, but do I know exactly what’s going on to the minute detail in every training aspect of every event? That’s something that a head coach has to do — cover all the bases. That will be the biggest difference and challenge for me.
Q: You’ve seen a lot of success from your sprinters and hurdles. How are you looking to bring that achievement to all aspects of the team now?
Turner: It falls on me, but it also falls on the assistant coaches doing the work. My staff that I’m compiling now is going to be the best. They’re going to be the best staff that I can get here, that wants to be here, because we have great student-athletes. We’re going to follow my principles which are that you’ve got to be in shape, you’ve got to know your event, you’ve got to get your technique down. When you do that, when you put forth the effort, when you prepare, good things will happen. And I see good things happening in all of our areas.
Q: What reaction do you think the student-athletes will have to you being named the next head coach?
Turner: I hope they’ll be excited. Certainly I hope the sprinters and hurdlers will be, because they’ve seen success. But if you ask the others in the other event groups, I’m engaged with all the kids. So I’m going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of excitement — we’re going to have a lot of fun. Track is fun. So all the kids are really going to enjoy it.
— Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant