Former Penn State assistant coach Mark Gottdenker has been named the new assistant coach for the UMass men's and women's track and field programs as announced by head coaches Ken O'Brien and Julie LaFreniere.
"We are extremely happy to have Mark join us as a member of the men's and women's track and field coaching staff," said O'Brien who is in his 40th season as men's head coach. "Mark has extensive coaching experience at the collegiate level and is a versatile coach who fits the needs of our program perfectly. He has gained the reputation of a coach that works well with both the developmental and elite athlete. He is an outstanding recruiter, a great motivator, and our student-athletes will benefit greatly from his coaching ability and passion for the sport."
LaFreniere, who enters her 20th season as the head coach of the women's track and field program, echoed O'Brien's sentiments about the hiring of Gottdenker.
"I am also delighted to have Mark join our track & field programs. He will bring a great amount of enthusiasm along with ten very successful years of Division I coaching experience to UMass," said LaFreniere. "Mark is an outstanding recruiter of elite and developmental athletes and will help put UMass track and field back on the fast track to the top of the Atlantic 10 Conference."
Gottdenker joins the UMass track and field programs after four years at Penn State. His primary coaching duties will include working with student-athletes in the throwing events, jumping events and multi-events such as the heptathlon and decathlon. He will also be a key facet in the recruiting efforts of the track and field programs.
"I'm very excited to be joining the staff at UMass. Having been a collegiate athlete in New England, I have always had a great deal of respect and admiration for both the UMass track & field teams and the university in general," said Gottdenker.
"With the committed support of Ken and Julie, the athletic department, the university community, and all of the members of the teams, I hope that we will be able to quickly re-establish our place at or near the top of the conference," said Gottdenker. "In time, I am hopeful that we will be able to send larger groups of athletes to the NCAA Regional meet to compete for the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Championships."
In four years with the Nittany Lions, Gottdenker had similar coaching duties as he will have at UMass.
While at Penn State, he guided four Big Ten champions and numerous NCAA indoor and outdoor qualifiers. Most recently, Gottdenker coached Allen Pettner to the Big Ten javelin title. In the 2005 outdoor track season Bret Kershner won the Big Ten javelin championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Championship with his performance at the East Regional meet. In 2004, he helped Brian Stumpf win the Big Ten javelin title, coached Matt Moyer to the NCAA Championships in the javelin, and shot putter Dane Miller to the NCAA Championships. In 2003, his guidance helped Stumpf reach the USA Track and Field Championships as well. Along with those throwers, Gottdenker helped multi-eventer J.T. Kuretich to the 2003 NCAA Championships, the IC4A indoor pentathlon title, the Penn Relays decathlon title and the Big Ten decathlon title.
Before Penn State, Gottdenker served as an assistant coach for the men's and women's track & field/cross country teams at Monmouth University (N.J.). He was later promoted to Head Coach for women's track and field.
At Monmouth and Penn State, Gottdenker earned a reputation for being able to develop athletes in a wide range of events into conference, regional and national level competitors. He developed athletes who qualified for the NCAA meet on eight occasions, in six events, earning four All-America honors (Jon Kalnas, shot put and Joe Madden, hammer). Gottdenker's star pupil, Kalnas, was a three-time All-American, 2002 U.S. National finalist, 2001 Penn Relays champion and the winner of the 2002 North American, Central American and Caribbean under-25 championships in the shot put. Gottdenker coached Kalnas after he moved to Penn State as Kalnas prepared for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Gottdenker earned his master's degree in kinesiology at Indiana University (`94) and his bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire (`92). He has been certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association as a strength and conditioning specialist and USA Weightlifting as a Sports Performance Coach. He also is a USA Track & Field Level II coach in the throwing events.