The name Kersee is synonymous with track & field.
The former UCLA and Cal State Northridge coach was a staple in collegiate track & field for more than 30 years. One of the premier sprints and hurdles coaches in the world, many collegiate athletes benefitted from the tutelage of Kersee and won NCAA, U.S., World and Olympic titles.
It didn’t take long for Kersee to make his mark on the sport. After graduating from Long Beach State where he helped coach the women’s track & field team as an undergrad, he moved onto Cal State Northridge for his first head coaching gig. The Matadors experienced immediate success under his watch, as his 1978 and 1979 squads won the AIAW Division I National Championships.
Kersee jumped to UCLA in 1980 and continued his success as an assistant coach for four seasons, helping the Bruins capture the women’s 1982 and 1983 NCAA Division I outdoor titles. During that time, he mentored the likes of Florence Griffith, LaShon Nedd, Sherri Howard and Arlise Emerson – all of whom won NCAA championships.
In 1984, Kersee took the reins of the program from former head coach Scott Chisam, serving as its head coach for nine seasons.
The Bruins experienced unprecedented success at the conference level, winning five Pac-10 titles across his final seven years. At the national level, eight of his last nine teams recorded top-7 finishes, including a runner-up result in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
Despite stepping down from the head coaching position in 1993, Kersee continued to work with the Bruins as a volunteer coach where he shared his expertise amongst a slew of Bruin athletes who won NCAA championships under his direction.
Outside of his work at UCLA, Kersee personally trained a “who’s who” of sprinters and hurdlers who have competed in the Diamond League, World Championships and Olympic Games. Kersee has played an instrumental role in the success of Gail Devers, Greg Foster, Allyson Felix, Jeanette Bolden, Dawn Harper, Valerie Brisco-Hooks, Andre Phillips, Michelle Perry, Joanna Hayes, Kerron Clement, Shawn Crawford and Andrea Anderson, among others. Kersee also coached his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, one of the most recognized names in the history of the sport.
Kersee has been honored for his work as a coach, as he has twice been named the Nike Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2015.
He was also named the Pac-12 Women’s Track & Field Coach of the Century.