June 16, 2008
UCLA track and field coaches Jeanette Bolden and Art Venegas have announced that jumps coach Mike Powell is stepping down from his position after three successful years with the Bruins. Powell, the current World Record-holder in the long jump, is stepping away from collegiate track and field to continue his involvement with the IAAF, where he serves as an ambassador to the sport.
As an ambassador, Powell attends track meets and press conferences, as well as meet with sponsors, host clinics and do whatever he can to represent and promote the sport of track and field. He will also continue to coach a handful of professional athletes in the jumps.
"I had a great experience the past few years and it was a hard decision for me to step down," said Powell. "I made a lot of new friendships and renewed friendships from when I was a student-athlete at UCLA. I had a great group of kids to coach and I will always follow them and support them.
"I came to UCLA because I felt I could help the program out and I feel I was able to do that. I'm excited with where the jumps program is at and I look forward to seeing the next coach continue the success of this group."
During his tenure as men's and women's jumps coach, Powell coached one NCAA champion (Rhonda Watkins) and multiple athletes to Pac-10, West Region and All-American honors. Watkins won the 2007 NCAA indoor and outdoor long jump crowns, as well as several Pac-10 and West Region individual titles. He earned West Region Coach of the Year honors for the women's jumps in 2007.
All-Americans under Powell's guise include Rhonda Watkins (2007 indoor LJ; 2007 outdoor LJ and HJ) and Renee Williams (2006/2008 outdoor TJ). NCAA Championship competitors include Watkins (LJ/HJ), Williams (LJ/TJ), Keneisha Creary (HJ), Allie Miller (HJ), Caroline Sommers (HJ), Dominique Easterling (TJ), Michael Johnson (TJ) and Joel Tuosto (LJ).
This past year, Powell turned more of his focus to the women's team, while pole vault coach Anthony Curran assisted with the men's jumpers.
"Coach Powell's impact on this team will be missed," said Bolden. "He's someone with lots of knowledge and experience and has had a major impact on our team. We are saddened by his departure, but wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."
"It's been a wonderful opportunity for us to reconnect with Coach Powell having had him as a student-athlete and then a coach," said head men's coach Art Venegas. "We benefitted tremendously from his experience as a world record-holder and as a student of the event. We are excited for the future opportunities that he will have in the sport and we were fortunate to have him for these last few years. We are grateful for the opportunity that we had to enjoy his incredible enthusiasm for the sport."
Both coaches hope to have the jumps position filled by August.