Moon promotes cross country head coach as UNF Athletics’ assistant

Spinnaker

UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon promoted Mark VanAlsytne to Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Track and Field.

“I think he’s proved to me his knowledge and experience is very valuable,” Moon said. “Hopefully, we can use his relationships to bring more track events to Hodges Stadium.”

The promotion is something that has been in the works for a long time. Along with the promotion comes a slue of new responsibilities which include marketing Hodges Stadium and continuing to develop the track and field program for UNF.

“That’s the big chunk of it,” VanAlstyne said. “There will also be other administrative duties within the department, but they are pretty nonexciting compared to trying to get out and drum up some events for the facility. That’s the biggest part of it.”

VanAlstyne is excited to get started and has already put some plans in to action. He feels the facilities UNF has to offer will make it easier to schedule larger events.

UNF has already put in a bid to host a preliminary round of the 2011 NCAA track and field championships this spring, Moon said.

VanAlstyne said the biggest issue in scheduling events for Hodges Stadium is the fact that the events on which he is bidding are usually still two to three years away. In order to attract these events to come to UNF, VanAlstyne has to work with UNF’s city partners and Jacksonville’s tourism development and try to put together packages to bring events in.

“Specifically, I’m charged with developing the track and field side of things,” VanAlstyne said. “That is my biggest goal right now. We have one event booked in next June already, and we’re working on possible bids for two or three pretty big events in the next 18 months.”

The main selling point VanAlstyne has to offer is Hodges Stadium itself. UNF has one of the best facilities in Division I. Part of the reason for this promotion is UNF has been looking for a better way to promote their great, new facility.

“Track and field is so fortunate here at UNF,” VanAlstyne said. “We have facilities that are envied by every Division I program in the country. We are in a very elite group of maybe five or eight that have this kind of a track and field facility, and it is names that most people probably wouldn’t associate being in the same group with UNF.”

The facility UNF has to offer rivals those of larger Division I track and field programs such the University of Oregon or the University of Arkansas. VanAlstyne plans to use Hodges Stadium to not only attract larger championship level events but also to attract better competition during the regular season.

“We’re doing a better and better job every year,” VanAlstyne said. “It’s a challenge. The track and field calendar in Florida has gotten very crowded over the last couple of years. As we bid and attract more championship level events, then more and more teams will want to come here in the regular season, experience the facility and prepare their athletes for the championships.”

VanAlstyne also feels like UNF has carved out a nice niche with hosting its Spring Break meet in March every year. He looks for that to continue to grow and to build off of the attention it brings to Hodges Stadium.

VanAlstyne has been a part of UNF in one way or another since the 80’s. He is a former UNF athlete and still holds the school record in the marathon with a time of 2:27.05.

VanAlstyne has also held numerous jobs within the UNF Athletics Department, spending most of his time as the leader of the track and field program since 1991. He has helped the Ospreys from NAIA all the way to Division I. In his time with track and field, VanAlstyne has led the program to 11 conference titles.

“I have a tremendous amount of love and loyalty toward UNF,” VanAlstyne said. “Obviously, I competed as an Osprey my final two years. I got my first assistant coaching job here and stepped in to my first head coaching job here. I’ve held a lot of roles within the department. I’ve kind of seen it all. It comes with new challenges but it excites me.”