Senior improves on record time, earns All-American honors
Coastal wins four event titles Friday to beat out Liberty
Chanticleers open up season Saturday at Clemson's Orange & Purple Winter Classic
Alan Connie is in his 27th year as the head coach of Coastal Carolina University's women's cross country team, his 16th as the head women's indoor track and field coach and his 15th as the head coach of the women's outdoor track and field team.
Connie has been named the Big South Conference Coach of the Year a record 30 times -- 12 in cross country, nine in indoor track and field and nine in outdoor track and field. Connie has received the triple crown for Coach of the Year three times in his career, including the 2003-04, 2005-06 and most recently the 2008-09 seasons in Cross Country, Indoor Track and Field and Outdoor Track and Field. Also in 2004, he was named the Southeast Region Coach of the Year for Indoor Track and Field.
Over the years, Connie has built the women's cross country program into the most successful program in the Big South Conference. The proof is 12 Big South Conference Championships, 81 All-Conference selections, 14 individual champions who have been named the Big South's Runner of the Year, 17 NCAA All-Southeast Region selections, nine NCAA National Championship qualifiers and two NCAA All-Americans. The 15 Big South individual champions includes a stretch of eight consecutive titles from 1992 to 1999, two consecutive winners in 2002 and 2003 and three straight winners from 2005 to 2007. He has also coached 10 Big South Rookies of the Year, including five straight from 2002 to 2006. To top it all off, Connie has coached the Big South's only set of women's cross country All-Americans in Julia Viellehner (2006) and Diana Jepchirchir (2007).
While Connie has established the cross country program as the Big South's best, he has also led the Chanticleers into the national spotlight. Following a No. 24 national ranking in 1996, Connie coached Coastal to a ranking of 20th nationally in 1997. In 2002, the Lady Chants were ranked 30th in the country during the season.
In track and field, Connie has coached athletes to eight All-American honors, as well as 81 Big South Indoor Champions, 103 Big South Outdoor Champions, and a combined 478 indoor and outdoor All-Conference selections. Connie's most recent All-American in track and field was 2007 graduate Chasity Johnson, who was All-American in 2005 in the indoor triple jump. She holds the Big South Conference records in the indoor and outdoor triple and long jump, and was the 2005 Big South Conference Track and Field Female Athlete of the Year. Johnson also qualified for the USA National Outdoor Championships in Carson, Calif.
With Connie at the helm, the Chanticleers won their second straight Big South Outdoor Championship in 2012 as they rallied past Liberty on the final day. The Chants won six individual event titles, along with two relays at the event and earned 17 All-Big South honors. Erica Peake took home championships in the long jump and 100 and 200 meters, while Kierra Gabe won the high jump, Letitia Saayman took first place in the 10,000 meters and Mary Lawrence won the pole vault. Connie garnered his 30th Big South Coach of the Year honor and ninth in the outdoor track and field, while Erica Peake and Kierra Gabe earned Big South Most Outstanding track performer and field performer honors, respectively. Under Connie, five Coastal athletes reached the 2012 NCAA East Regional Preliminary Qualifier and 51 ranked in the top 10 in the Big South.
The Chants notched their third straight runner-up finish at the Big South Indoor Championship in 2012, with Kierra Gabe winning the high jump and triple jump and Darriale Henley taking first in the 60-meter dash. Gabe earned Most Outstanding Field performer honors for a second straight year and Coastal totaled 15 All-Big South honors.
The Connie-led 2011 cross country Chanticleers finished third at the Big South Championship meet with a team score of 81 points. Senior Christian Johnson earned her third All-Big South honor placing fourth in the event. The Chants opened the season with a second place finish at the 5-kilometer Gamecock Open as Emily Marchini won the meet in 18:36.12. Coastal finished the season with a 25th place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Connie notched his 29th overall coach of the year honor as he led the Chants to the 2011 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championship. A total of 23 Coastal student-athletes earned All-Big South accolades as the Chants tallied 228 total points to defeat defending champion Liberty. Deborah Mattern (javelin), Darriale Henley (4x100m), London Smalls (4x100m), Erica Peake (4x100m & 4x400m), Ashley Davis (4x100m), Santresa Jamison (4x400m), Vondeeshia Humphries (4x400m) and Jerica Howard (4x400m) each claimed individual conference crowns. Connie helped Mattern to a school record javelin throw of 46.04m (151-00) and to become the Big South's first three-peat javelin champion. Additionally, the 4x100-meter relay team of Davis, Henley, Peake and Melekia Simpson broke the Coastal standard with a time of 44.83 at the North Florida Invitational. Furthermore, Connie coached Gabe to a Coastal Carolina high jump record of 1.75m (5-8.75) at the Penn Relays. Under Connie's mentorship Mattern (javelin), Gabe (high jump), Peake (200m) and the 4x100-meter relay team of Davis, Henley, Peake, and Simpson qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round.
The 2010 cross country season saw Connie lead the Chanticleers to a runner-up finish at the Big South Championship meet as Emily Marchini, Jamie Brusa and Christian Johnson earned All-Big South honors. The season was highlighted by a fifth place finish at the season opening Gamecock Open followed by a third place finish at the Coastal Carolina Invitational. The Chants wrapped up the season with a 23rd place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
The 2010 outdoor track season saw the Connie led Chanticleers finish second in the Big South Championship meet while 14 student-athletes earned 18 All-Big South Conference honors with three finishing as the 2010 champions of their respective events. Connie coached the Big South's most outstanding track performer in Ikeiylah Brown and most outstanding field performer in Brittany Connor. Mikaela Terry also earned academic awards for her work in the classroom as she was named to the Big South All-Academic team, the Big South's George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence.
During the 2009 season, the Coastal Carolina women's cross country and track and field programs captured the triple crown for the third time in Connie's career with the last coming in the 2005-06 season. The cross country season was highlighted by three All-Big South honors and Christian Johnson being named Big South Freshman of the Year. The indoor track and field season concluded with four indoor champions and 13 All-Big South honorees. The outdoor track and field season was highlighted by a record margin of victory of 99.5 points and the Big South Championships, beating runner-up Liberty en route to its fifth title in six years. Also, Coastal Carolina also had yet another Academic All-American in Marcie Veitch, who finished her career tied for fourth in the Coastal Carolina record book in the pole vault. Connie finished the 2008-09 season earning his 26th, 27th, and 28th Big South Coach of the Year honor.
The 2008 season saw the Chants capture both the indoor track and field team title, as well as the outdoor team title. The two titles marked eight Big South indoor and outdoor championships in a five year span.
The 2007-08 academic year produced two more Big South Championships in track and field and a Big South Runner-Up finish in cross country. The cross country season was highlighted by Diana Jepchirchir earning All-America honors to become Coastal Carolina's second-straight cross country All-American. Jepchirchir also set Big South and Coastal Carolina records with a time of 20:22.50 at the NCAA Southeast Regionals held in Louisville, Kentucky. The Chants ran away with the Big South Indoor title by a 29.5 margin over runner-up Liberty at championships, winning seven of the possible 17 individual events en route to a team total of 202.5 team points. Connie earned Big South Indoor Coach of the Year honors, leading his team to its third-straight indoor team title. Coastal Carolina faired even better in the outdoor campaign, winning the outdoor team title by a 46 point margin over Charleston Southern. The squad boasted six individual titles, and earned 230 team points for their fourth title in the past five years.
The 2005-06 year was a special one for the Coastal Carolina women's cross country and track and field programs. Connie's Chants captured the "triple crown", sweeping the Big South in all three seasons (cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field). Coastal Carolina set a record for the most points ever totaled at the Big South Indoor Championships when they won the title with 233.5 points. Additionally, the teams also set records for largest margin of victory in Big South history in both indoor and outdoor competition.
In Connie's tenure, he has witnessed multiple athletes reach the pinnacles of their careers. Among them was Amber Campbell, a member of the USA Olympic Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she was the top American finisher. Recently, Campbell won her third straight USA National title in the weight throw and made the USA National Team again in the hammer throw. She competed at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany in the hammer throw, finishing 11th overall, marking the first time she has advanced to the finals of a major international competition. At Coastal Carolina, Campbell was a five-time All-America selection, and member of the USA National team at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Campbell also graduated as the all-time American collegiate record holder in the indoor weight throw. Another standout was Jolene (Williams) Byrne, a two-time All-American, who finished second at the NCAA Division I Indoor National Championships for 3,000 meters, and earned the Bronze Medal at the 2005 World University Games in Turkey, in the 5,000 meters. She also finished 14th at the 2005 World Cross Country Championships in France. Four members of the Coastal Carolina Track and Field team have been named to the USA, Great Britain, Ireland and New Zealand World University teams during their tenures at Coastal Carolina.
In addition to the successes on the track and cross country courses, Connie's student-athletes have proven that the student definitely comes first. The cross country team has earned 13 consecutive Academic All-American Team with distinction honors from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The track team has ranked as a top 15 All-Academic team since the award was inaugurated seven years ago. In 2007, Coastal was sixth out of 327 Division I track and field programs with a 3.421 cumulative team GPA and earned a 3.319 cumulative GPA in 2008 to rank 21st in the nation.
Additionally, four of Connie's athletes have earned Academic All-American honors, as selected by CoSIDA. Felicitas Mensing earned the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year Triple Crown in the 2007-08 seasons, and was only the third athlete in Big South history to accomplish the feat. Her efforts in the classroom earned her Second-Team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America honors. Additionally, seven of the last 11 Big South Female Scholar Athletes of the Year have been members of Coastal Carolina's track and field squad.
Before coming to Coastal Carolina, Connie led the North Myrtle Beach High School boys' cross country team to two state titles. He also guided the girls' track and field program to two state titles and three state runner-up finishes. During his tenure at North Myrtle Beach High, Connie compiled a 169-2-1 record in dual and tri-meets. He was voted the South Carolina Track and Field/Cross Country Coach of the Year four times.
Connie has two daughters- Sara and Kira. He married wife, Rita, in February of 2012.