May 19, 2014
CONWAY - After a 28-year coaching career, Alan Connie has announced his retirement as the Head Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field Coach at Coastal Carolina University.
“It has been such a privilege to have been asked to start this program 28 years ago and to have coached so many outstanding student-athletes,” said Connie. “When I started, it would’ve been beyond my wildest dreams that the program could win 28 Big South Championships in 28 years, but that is what our athletes have achieved in women’s cross country and track and field. I am equally proud of the great success these athletes have achieved in their lives after their graduation. I have had great assistant coaches during my time at Coastal Carolina and the fact that I find former assistant coaches now coaching at great programs like Southern California, Nebraska and Illinois speaks highly of the national recognition the program has attained. I have been blessed with great support from the administration and support staff and I am personally grateful to so many people. To finish out my career by having our team sweep the women’s Big South Championships in all three sports- cross country, indoor track and outdoor track is very special. We are looking to finish this season with a strong contingent of CCU athletes at the NCAA National Championships. I feel great about the future of the program under the direction of Coach Jeff Jacobs. I remain passionate about the sport and hope to continue to be a great supporter of the program, CCU athletics and our University.”
“Along with his remarkable coaching record, Alan has also been a tremendous ambassador for Coastal Carolina University," said Interim Director of Athletics Matt Hogue. "He has embodied class, integrity, and humility and is proud to call himself a Chanticleer. We wish him all the best in his retirement"
Connie is the only head coach in Coastal Carolina women’s cross country/track & field history. He has built the program into one of nation’s best and is going out as a Triple Crown winner after taking the 2013 Big South Cross Country Championship, the 2014 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championship and the 2014 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championship. Connie led the Chanticleers to four triple crowns during his tenure having also achieved the feat in 2003-04, 2005-06, and 2008-09.
Connie started the cross country program in 1986 and led the charge to add the outdoor track & field program in 1994 and the indoor program in 1998. During his career, the women’s cross country/track & field programs have won a combined 28 Big South titles.
Veteran Men's Head Cross Country/Track & Field Coach Jeff Jacobs will take over as Director of Cross Country/Track & Field following Connie’s departure.
Connie is a 33-time Big South Coach of the Year including 13 recognitions in cross country, 10 in indoor track & field and 10 in outdoor track & field. He was also named the 2004 Southeast Region Coach of the Year for indoor track & field. He was recently named the Big South Coach of the Decade in cross country (1990s and 2000s), in indoor track & field (2000s) and in outdoor track & field (2000s).
Connie built the women's cross country program into the most successful in the Big South Conference which has featured 13 conference championships, 85 All-Conference selections, 15 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 11 Big South Rookies of the Year, including five straight from 2002 to 2006 and the Big South's only set of women's cross country All-Americans in Julia Viellehner (2006) and Diana Jepchirchir (2007).
The Chanticleer cross country program has also garnered national acclaim under Connie having ended the season nationally ranked three times. Following a No. 24 final ranking in 1996, Connie’s Chanticleers ranked 20th in 1997 and 30th in 2002.
In track & field, Connie has coached student-athletes to 10 All-American honors, as well as 91 Big South Indoor Champions, 115 Big South Outdoor Champions, and a combined 543 indoor and outdoor All-Conference selections.
In Connie's tenure, he has helped 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 and the 2012 London Olympics. At Coastal Carolina, Campbell was a five-time All-American 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. This past season he helped Jessica Gelibert capture the bronze medal in the 400 meter hurdles at the 2013 Pan American Junior Athletics Championship in Medellin, Columbia. Gelibert represented her parents' home country of Haiti where she holds dual citizenship. She won the lone medal for the country of Haiti with her performance.
He has led nine different student-athletes to All-American honors including five in 2013. Erica Peake earned second team honors with a ninth-place finish in the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. During the outdoor season the combinations of Peake, Jessica Gelibert, Teka Simpson, Qwontajah Thompson and Symphony Thompson comprised 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams that were named honorable mention All-Americans after reaching the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Amber Campbell was Connie’s most successful All-American achieving the feat five times from 2001-2004.
As a squad, Connie led the Chanticleers to their best overall finish in 1998 when the Chanticleers finished 26th nationally at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
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 17 consecutive Academic All-American Team with distinction honors from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The track team has earned 11 consecutive All-Academic Team honors as well. In 2007, Coastal was sixth out of 327 Division I track & field programs with a 3.421 cumulative team GPA and in 2008 ranked 21st nationally with a 3.319 cumulative GPA.
Additionally, four of Connie's athletes have earned Academic All-America honors, as selected by CoSIDA. Felicitas Mensing earned the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year Triple Crown in the 2007-08 season, 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.
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 & field program to two state titles and three state runner-up finishes. During his tenure at North Myrtle Beach, Connie compiled a 169-2-1 record in dual and tri-meets. He was voted the South Carolina Track & Field/Cross Country Coach of the Year four times.
Connie has two daughters- Sara and Kira. He married his wife, Rita, in February of 2012.