Rodney Zuyderwyk is starting his sixth year on the New Mexico track & field staff after being promoted to Associate Head Coach by Joe Franklin in 2010.
In 2014, Coach “Z”, as he called, coached the Lobos vertical jumpers and throwers to a banner year. Richard York, in his final outdoor campaign, wrote the headlines as he won the javelin throw and placed third in the decathlon at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships. He rode his success in the javelin to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., becoming just one of three Lobos to qualify to the NCAAs in the javelin since 1970.
The 2014 indoor season was also superb as Margo Tucker and Annie Stirling went 1-2 in the pole vault – and broke 13 feet – at the Mountain West Championships. The duo gave the Lobos their first conference pole vault title in over a decade and the impetus for their first-ever outright conference title. Logan Pflibsen scored a bronze medal for the men indoors, while Emily Heisler and Nathalie Busk also scored.
Outdoors, Stirling duplicated her runner-up performance at the conference meet as Pflibsen also scored. The Lobos, however, were also bolstered by stellar performances by their multi athletes. Samantha Bowe and Holly Van Grinsven both scored in the heptathlon at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships, while York became the only athlete in MW history to earn all-conference honors in the decathlon at four separate championships.
2013 saw Zuyderwyk guide the Lobos to another solid year in the jump and combined events. Richard York was the headliner early, as he set a new school record the heptathlon twice -- once at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational and a second time in a title-winning performance at the Mountain West Indoor Championships. The women's pole vaulters also showed well, with three vaulter scoring at the indoor conference meet and four Lobos (including all-conference recipients Amber Menke and Margo Tucker) scoring outdoors. Django Lovett also did well under Zuyderwyk's tutelage, sweeping the Mountain West high jump titles en route to advancing to his third straight NCAA Outdoor Championships.
During the 2012 season, Zuyderwyk coached another record-setting year for the Lobos’ vertical jumpers and throwers. Amber Menke established a new pole vault record of 13-5 3/4 at back-to-back meets, while York again qualified for the NCAA Outdoor meet in the decathlon (and javelin) and Lovett advanced for a second time in the high jump.
The year before, in 2011, Zuyderwyk led Precious Selmon to the MWC indoor title, establishing a new UNM record. Hurdler De’Vron Walker set a new indoor school record in the 60 hurdles. York claimed the indoor conference title in the heptathlon and earned the MWC indoor athlete of the year honors. Margo Tucker established a new indoor school record in the pole vault. In the outdoor season York claimed the decathlon at the MWC championship and qualified to the NCAA championships for the first time. Menke went over 13’ in the pole vault while freshmen Logan Pflibsen cleared 17’.
During his first year with the Lobos Coach "Z" took Sandy Fortner to All American status in the indoor Pentathlon and freshman Richard York to a new indoor school record in the Heptathlon. He also brought De'Vron Walker to a school record in the 60 meter Hurdles, and Precious Selmon broke the women's school record in the 60 meter hurdles as well. During the outdoor campaign York emerged as the top American freshman decathlete and finished the season ranked 26th nationally while winning the MWC title with a score of 7292. Fortner repeated as MWC Heptathlon champion and qualified to the NCAA Championships.
Prior to coming to UNM he spent the previous eight years at Purdue University where he earned 2008 and 2009 Regional Assistant Coach of the Year honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. In his last seven years at Purdue, Zuyderwyk's athletes broke 17 school records, nine Big Ten records, three American Collegiate records and three USA open National records. They also won 50 Big Ten medals, including 19 Big Ten event titles, seven NCAA Mideast Regional event titles, two NCAA Championship gold medals and three USA open event titles.
During his time at Purdue, Zuyderwyk established one of the finest javelin programs in the country. Purdue was the only university to boast three women's throwers over the 180-foot barrier and the only two American collegiate throwers to ever break the 60-meter barrier. His athletes won two NCAA titles, five NCAA Mideast Regional titles, and in 2009 Kara Patterson won her second straight U.S. Championship and qualified for the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany with a career-best throw of 63.95 meters (209-10) - just 24 centimeters shy of the American record. Patterson became Purdue's first female track and field Olympian in 2008, winning the U.S. Olympic Trials, breaking the Olympic trials record. Patterson set an American Collegiate record with her throw of 61.56 meters (202-00) at the 2008 Big Ten Championships. She was just the second American woman to eclipse the 200-foot barrier. In 2002, Serene Ross won both Big Ten and NCAA Championship titles, and broke the American record. Two weeks later, Ross improved her American record to 197-00 and became the USA open national champion, gaining selection to the U.S. team and becoming the first woman to throw over 60 meters in the U.S. In the Pole Vault over the last seven years, the Boilermaker vaulters earned 22 Big Ten medals, including eight conference titles, under Zuyderwyk's tutelage. Purdue had six vaulters qualify for the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in 2009 after sending seven to regionals in 2008.
Upon his hiring Head Coach Joe Franklin said, "To have a coach of Rodney's caliber join our outstanding staff shows that UNM is a destination program for both athletes and coaches," said Franklin. "He brings instant credibility with his longtime success training athletes in the javelin, pole vault and multi events and we're very excited to have him."
In college, Zuyderwyk competed for Washington State University, helping the Cougars to a Pac-10 Championship, and a runner-up finish at the 1991 NCAA Outdoor Championships. After graduation Zuyderwyk represented Australia in the 110-meter hurdles and 4x100-meter relay at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He finished sixth at the World Cup in the 110-meter hurdles and sixth at the World Student Games in the decathlon.
Zuyderwyk earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and sports administration from Washington State in 1993 and received a postgraduate diploma in sports psychology from the University of Queensland in 1995, while earning an MBA from the University of Southern Queensland in 2000. Zuyderwyk and his wife, Jill, have two sons, Brock and Tristan.