Track and field coach Reuben Jones will leave Brown for a coaching position at Columbia, becoming the third track and field coach – including program director Michelle Eisenreich – to leave Bruno in the past six weeks. Jones was temporarily coaching both the jumping and sprinting squads after former sprinting and hurdling coach Marc Mangiacotti departed at the end of the summer to coach at Harvard.
Jones joined the team’s staff September 2010 after coaching at Coastal Carolina University and the University of Virginia. During his time with the Bears, he helped guide two student-athletes to school records: Evan Weinstock ’14 in the decathlon and Peter Rhodes ’15 in the heptathlon. Weinstock and Rachel Biblo ’11 won Ivy League titles in their events during Jones’ tenure.
Many athletes are sad to see him leave, said Hannah Wallace ’13, a pole-vaulter. Brienna Crimmins ’14, another member of the jumps squad, echoed Wallace’s sentiment, saying Jones helped many of her peers grow as student-athletes.
“I think we all grew together, and he became like a friend within that time,” Crimmins said.
Jones called the squads together last Monday to explain that he accepted a job at another institution, Crimmins said. Though his parting comes on the heels of Eisenreich’s departure, Crimmins said the two events were unrelated.
“It was not at all connected with Coach Eisenreich leaving,” said Tim Springfield, interim director of track and field. “I want to stress that Reuben is leaving Brown on very good terms.”
Springfield added that he was with Jones when Columbia called him “out of the blue.” Though the process was rapid, with less than a week between the initial contact and the extension of an offer, Jones was “very upfront with me and with the administration,” Springfield said.
“They made him an offer that he just couldn’t refuse,” said co-captain Nathan Elder ’13.
While Jones’ departure exacerbates the coaching shortage facing the track and field teams, Springfield said he views this potential “excuse for us to fall apart” as a “cause for us to pull together.” He said he has so far been very impressed with how the athletes are handling the challenge.
“Our team is so positive and so close-knit that a bunch of leaders are going to start shining through, and we are going to lead our own way,” Crimmins said. “So it’s not something that is going to be completely disadvantageous.”
Wallace characterized Jones’ leaving as a “bump in the road,” but said the team is “going to be stronger and better at the end of the day.”
The teams are currently without permanent sprinting, jumping and throwing coaches. The appointment of a new sprinting coach should be announced within two weeks, Springfield said.
“We don’t have a track and field competition until there’s one in December, and then they repeatedly start coming in January,” said Springfield. “It’s a long ways off, and so we’re not in any kind of desperate situation.”
It is still undecided whether other coaches will be brought in to help the new sprinting coach, Springfield said. Given the size of the squads, the hope is to get both new throwing and jumping coaches, Crimmins said.
Springfield said he understands the temptation to see a connection among the three coaches’ departures. But he added that it is more accurate to view these events as “unique opportunities that just kind of fit the individuals.”
“There’s no consistent reason for why everyone has left,” Elder said. He went on to say that they left for a variety of reasons including financial reasons, to coach “at a different level” and for personal reasons.
“I’m well aware of what it might look like from the outside,” Springfield said. “But that’s not what it feels like from the inside.”
Crimmins said that coaches leave for a myriad of reasons but that it ultimately comes down to the same explanation that most people give when changing jobs: “They are leaving for other opportunities,” she said.
Crimmins, Elder and Wallace all separately said that they are confident in the teams’ ability to come together and achieve their goals.
“It doesn’t change much from when I woke up this morning and where I think we’re headed for this year,” Elder said.