Legendary Coach Jerry Quiller Passes Away
Courtesy: Linda Poncin Sprouse, University of Colorado
February 2, 2012
BOULDER — Former University of Colorado cross country and track and field coach Jerry Quiller, who coached 15 years and hundreds of student-athletes at the school, has passed away after fighting a battle against multiple myeloma. He was 69.
Coach Q started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Colorado State University and became an assistant with CU in 1970, holding that position for four years. In 1974 he took over the reigns as a head coach at Wayne (Mich.) State. After two seasons he came back to CSU (1976-80) before heading to Idaho State (1980-85). Quiller then took over the program at CU in 1985, replacing David Troy. He coached the Buffs until 1995 when he landed his final coaching post at Army (1995-2008).
During his time at CU, Quiller coached the Buffs to three Big Eight Conference titles and made a dozen (men and women) appearances at the NCAA Championships. He was named the league’s coach of the year five times in that span and directed 19 All-Americans (13 men and six women), including Olympians Adam Goucher and Alan Culpepper. In 1994, CU’s men placed second and the women were fourth at nationals, earning him national coach of the year accolades.
The program at CU was left to the very capable hands of Mark Wetmore, who was an assistant under Quiller. The two formed a strong bond and Wetmore has a great deal of respect for him.
“I’ve been lucky to know many people considered to be successful…athletic champions, Olympians, wealthy people, well known or influential people. But I’m not sure I ever knew anyone more successful than Jerry Quiller,” Wetmore said. “Everywhere I have traveled, people have asked me, “What do you hear from Q?”, “Can you get me Q’s phone number?” We had a CU Track and Field reunion a year ago, with hundreds of graduates, going back forty years. Q was surrounded all night.
“He was also a coach up at CSU for a time. Just last year they had a similar gathering at one of their home track meets and the same thing happened. He moved around the meet like a celebrity, with an entourage following.”
“Our offices were side-by-side for over a decade, and I can’t recall a single day where he wasn’t always smiling,” said David Plati, CU’s associate AD for sports information. “He was an ‘up’ person, even throughout his battle, a ‘glass is half full kind of guy.’ He left an indelible mark on those lives he touched.”
Coach Q was one of the most successful coaches in Army history. Quiller guided the Army men’s and women’s cross country and track teams to 37 Patriot League titles in 13 seasons on the job. He won a Patriot League title in either cross country or track and field in each of his 13 years at the Academy and was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year an astounding 22 times. He had two more athletes, Dan Browne and Anita Allen, become Olympians as they competed in the 2004 Athens Games.
As one of the most successful coaches in Army history, ‘Q’ went out on top, coaching the women’s team to their first outdoor Patriot League title in 10 years and earning 2008 Women’s Outdoor Track Coach of the Year honors from the Patriot League. He also earned one last trip to the NCAA Championships as distance runner John Mickowski advanced to the national competition under his leadership.
Quiller, a Fort Collins, Colo. native lettered in cross country, track and field and baseball at Fort Collins High School. He was a member of the Colorado State track and field team, graduating in 1964 with a bachelor’s of science degree in physical science. He earned his master’s in education in 1966, also from CSU. He was born on April 28, 1942 in Denver. He and his wife, Sandy, had three sons, Ryan, Rory and Robb, who were all pole vaulters.
Everywhere Coach Q went people could see what a genuine and amazing person he was. He left his mark on everyone he met, including Gary Ozzello, the Senior Associate A.D. for External Operations at CSU.
“I had the chance to know Jerry during his time at CSU and in his years since CSU,” Ozzello said. “He was very passionate about track and field and about his life and his family. I have nothing but great memories in all that Jerry did and every person he touched during his life.”
Quiller touched many lives in his nearly 40-year coaching career, including Idaho State coach Dave Nielson who served as an assistant for Quiller during his time at ISU.
“Coach Q has been a mentor to me and all whose lives he touched through his actions, style, and attitude. In this very sad time, it is comforting to know that gifts to us in life are not lost in his passing,” Nielson said.
Coach Q was an assistant coach for the 2000 Olympic team which competed in Sydney, Australia. The team included two of his former athletes from CU, Goucher and Culpepper. He was the U.S. men’s team coach at the 1981 world cross country championships and the women’s team coach at the same meet in 1994. Quiller also served as the distance coach for the U.S. team at the 1987 track and field world championships.
“He had a resume of champions and All-Americans, but that is not why he was so loved,” Wetmore explained. “Simply, he was a great guy. He had a big smile, a nickname for everyone, and an arm around their shoulders. He made people feel happy, welcome, and at home. What greater measure of success could there be?”
Due to overwhelming response, the memorial for former University of Colorado cross country and track and field coach Jerry Quiller will take place on the club level at Folsom Field. Quiller died last week at the age of 69.
The celebration will take place from 4-6 p.m. Saturday on the Byron R. White Club Level at Folsom.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can made in Quiller’s name for student athletes scholarships at Colorado State University. Checks may be made out to the CSU Foundation and sent to 101 McGraw Athletics Center, Fort Collins, CO 80523-0120.