Vince Anderson jumped at the chance to return to his home state and be part of Pat Henry's initial coaching staff at Texas A&M. Anderson is responsible for coaching women's sprints, men's and women's hurdles and shares coordination of the relays with Coach Henry.
The 2006 season marks Vince Anderson's 21st season of collegiate coaching and his second season at Texas A&M. For Anderson, a native Texan, joining the Aggies' staff represents both a wonderful professional opportunity and a homecoming. Prior to his arrival in College Station, Anderson coached at the University of Tennessee for 16 years, where he sharpened his coaching eye in the intensely competitive Southeastern Conference (SEC).
In his coaching life, Anderson strives to be a teacher first. He tries to train his athletes in a broad range of athletic skills so they can compete effectively in more than one role for the team. He further believes that broadening college athletes' overall range of ability makes them even better in their specialty event - certainly for collegiate development, but especially for international development.
Anderson's approach has produced a notable body of work from athletes. Anderson has trained All-American athletes in every sprint, hurdle and relay discipline, as well as the long jump. While Anderson was an assistant at Tennessee he coached 11 individuals to SEC titles and his pupils set 26 school records. During his stint in Knoxville, the Vols earned the NCAA outdoor title in 2001, the NCAA indoor title in 2002 and also won elusive Southeastern Conference outdoor championships back-to-back in 2001 and 2002. The academic performance of Coach Anderson's students reflects his sincere commitment to their complete development. In all, Anderson has coached 32 All-American athletes (17 women, 15 men). Among those athletes, 28 will graduate by the end of 2006, yielding a graduation rate of 87.5%.
Anderson has had the privilege to train four athletes to NCAA titles individually - Leonard Scott, Jabari Greer, Gary Kikaya and Justin Gatlin. Collectively, the foursome earned 10 NCAA gold medals between 1999 and 2003. Anderson, who is deeply drawn to the challenge of coaching two-sport athletes, polished the track skills of football players Scott and Greer. Scott became the first Anderson-coached athlete to earn an NCAA title by virtue of winning the 60 meter dash in 1999 while Greer won the 60 meter hurdles in 2003. Working with Coach Anderson, Scott set the collegiate record for 60 meters at 6.48 and notched personal bests of 10.05 for the 100 meters and 20.34 for 200 meters. Greer, currently playing for the Buffalo Bills, set PR's of 7.55 for the 60-meter hurdles and 13.32 for the 110-meter hurdles. Both athletes successfully made the annual transformation from football player to track athlete.
Gary Kikaya became a sprinter under Anderson's guidance. He raced to the 2002 NCAA outdoor 400 meter title in a PR 44.53 and the 2003 NCAA indoor 400 meter gold in a PR 45.97. Showing the ablity to diversify his sprint range, Kikaya shaved his 200 meter PR from 21.08 to 20.52 and evolved into an athlete capable of dominating a 4x100 meter relay from the second leg.
For two years, Anderson had the good fortune to be Justin Gatlin's college coach. The collaboration coincided with Gatlin's rise from a 10.36 100 meter sprinter in high school into a dominant collegiate athlete. Among his many notable achievements as a college trackster, Gatlin swept both the 100 and 200 meter dashes at the 2001 and 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships, becoming the first athlete to turn that feat since Abilene Christian's Bobby Morrow did so in the 1950's. Gatlin also equaled the American Junior record in the 100 meters (10.08) and established a collegiate record at 200 meters (19.86). As a measure of versatility, Gatlin also lowered his PR in the 110-meter hurdles to 13.42 and split 44.1 in the 4x400 relay. Perhaps more than any other way, Anderson helped Gatlin by encouraging the sprinter's tendency to dream big.
As a secondary coach, Anderson also played a key role in the overall development of NCAA long jump champion Dedra Davis and NCAA decathlon champions Tom Pappas and Stephen Harris. Working with Davis' jump coach, Dorothy Doolittle, Anderson helped Davis develop sprint skills enough to earn the SEC 55-meter dash crown in 1994 and fetch bronze in the same event at NCAA's. Serving as a consultant to decathlon coordinator Bill Webb, Anderson coached Pappas (1999) and Harris (2003) in the sprint, hurdle and long jump events. Anderson remained part of Pappas' team when he was World Champion in 2003 and an Olympian in 2004.
Beside Pappas, Anderson has trained other athletes successfully on the world stage. At the 2004 World Indoor Championships, Gary Kikaya became the first athlete from the Democratic Republic of Congo to win a medal in world competition. In 2001, high hurdler Dawane Wallace placed seventh at the World Championships in Edmonton and won a bronze medal at the World University Games in 2003. Rebecca Russell Buchanan, a 400-meter hurdler, ran to a PR 54.87 and a spot on the USA team for the 1997 World Championships. Anderson also coached 2004 World Junior gold medalist Aries Merritt in the 110 meter hurdles and 2000 World Junior bronze medalist Russell Frye in the 200 meters.
At the top of Anderson's goal list: to recruit and develop Texas A&M athletes to scoring positions in conference, regional and NCAA competition. Another goal: develop an NCAA relay winner. Five times Anderson coached relays have finished runners-up in NCAA competition - ironically four of those teams placed second to Pat Henry-coached teams.
Coach Anderson holds two bachelors degrees from the University of Houston, a bachelor of Architecture ('79) and a B.A. in English Literature ('87). Anderson's coaching path is unusual. Anderson practiced architecture for six years after college before turning to track and field. He began coaching as a volunteer assistant to Coach Tom Tellez at the University of Houston in January of 1986, and spent 3 invaluable foundational years there. He was then a women's assistant at Tennessee for 8 years and a men's assistant for 8 years before joining the Aggies.
After 20 years of collegiate coaching, Anderson credits his success to a supportive family, patient mentors, great athletes and head coaches who took risks to hire him. He especially wishes to thank his wife, Charla, and his son Kohl for their steady love and support.