The Tennessee track and field program recently added David Neville to its staff as an assistant coach; Neville works with sprints, hurdles and relays.
He was a six-time Big Ten Champion and a five-time NCAA All-American at Indiana University before earning a bronze medal in the 400-meter race at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Afterward, Neville served as the head track and field coach at Taylor University, producing 106 NAIA National Championship contenders and 30 NAIA All-Americans.
The Daily Beacon's track and field beat writer, Cody Underwood, recently sat down with Neville for an exclusive interview.
CU: Cody Underwood
DN: David Neville
CU: “How does it feel to you personally to be coaching at Tennessee?”
DN: “I’m super excited. An opportunity like this doesn’t always come around. For me, I’m blessed to be at a place like this and work with such a great working staff. (Director of track and field/cross country Beth Alford-Sullivan) has been great in this transition period, the rest of the staff (has) also. So I am excited to get to work.”
CU: “How did you end up hearing about this? It’s not just one of those things you come across while scrolling on Indeed or Craigslist, right?”
DN: “Right. Actually (sprints coach) Tim Hall reached out to me through some connections that he has. He said my name came up a couple times and felt the desire to reach out to me about the position and that’s how the whole thing got started.”
CU: “Does the name Christian Coleman resonate with you at all, or did it maybe attract you here?”
DN: “Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean anyone that’s been following track and field recently knows who Christian Coleman is and what he’s done, especially over the last year. And so it’s exciting to be part of something in a program that has someone like that who can tie directly into that, as well as Justin Gatlin who you know for years and years has been doing amazing things as a representative of the University of Tennessee. So to have the opportunity to coach at a place like this is great.”
CU: “What are your goals for coaching here? Do you have any that you’ve set for yourself or the team?”
DN: “We have a number of athletes here already that are top-notch caliber and ready to compete at the national scene, and so I’m excited to be able to come alongside Coach hall and to work with the long sprints. Really, there are some people I think have opportunities to go out there and be national champs. For me, my desire is to make the best athletes possible, to help train athletes to go out there and win national championships and go on past college and be able to run at the most elite levels there are. So my goal has always been to produce the best athletes I can possibly produce.”
CU: “Has coaching always been something on your mind? You graduated with a music education degree. How did that work?”
DN: “Well, I’ve always been really drawn to music, I’ve been playing music forever. However, when I got to my junior and senior year in college, or in high school, I’ll say I knew that I wanted to run track and field at a high level. My senior year I knew I wanted to run at the Olympics.”
CU: “So in terms of goals, is one of them grooming the next Christian Coleman?”
DN: “Oh, everyone would love to groom the next Christian Coleman. Like I said, I want to make the best athlete. I want an athlete that’s going to go out there and win a national championship, an athlete that’s going to go out there and go after that and going to go on to the world scene and win world championships, be an Olympic champ, walk away with a gold medal. That is something that everyone wants to be in their field, and I think, clearly, when you help produce the best athlete, that says something about yourself. And it’s not all about just grooming a certain athlete that’s going to go out there and beat everybody, but I think it’s awesome when you can plan and figure out workout sessions and training that’s going to help produce somebody who can be the best. I think that that will help draw more people here to the University of Tennessee, which is a huge goal: to have people that want to flock here because they understand what we’re doing here, the culture that we're creating here, that is being created and that has already been created here and to continue just elevating the sport.