After a long run with Yale athletics, which also included a stint as a U.S. national team assistant at the 2000 Olympics, Mark Young ’68 will retire as Yale’s cross country head coach after the fall season.
Associate head coach David Shoehalter will take over while Young stays on to coach the women’s track and field team’s distance and middle distance runners through the spring season.
The position, officially named the Mark T. Young ’68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, was endowed in his honor in 2008, attesting to his longstanding dedication to the program. As a student, Young captained the men’s track and field team, leading the team to an outdoor Heptagonal Championship his senior year. Along with earning individual IC4A titles in the 440-yard (outdoors) and 600-yard (indoors) runs, Young was the anchor of the mile relay team that still holds the Yale outdoor record (3:09). Young also played on the football team.
Mark Young at Yale
Young captained the Yale men’s track and field team his senior year, when he led the team to an outdoor Heptagonal Championship. He also played football.
THREE DECADES AS COACH
After serving as the assistant attorney general for Massachusetts, Young took the head coaching job at Yale in 1980. He has led the Bulldogs ever since.
AT THE OLYMPICS
Besides coaching at Yale, Young also served as an assistant coach for the U.S. track and field team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Although this season marks the beginning of Young’s 31st year of coaching at Yale, his coaching career began almost 12 years earlier. After graduating from law school, Young practiced law and took a position as the assistantattorney general for Massachusetts while coaching high school track and cross country teams.
“I was spending almost as much time coaching high-school track as working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Young said. “So I had come to the conclusion that you can really only be pro at one thing.”
He gave himself one year to find a college coaching job that felt right to him — meaning one with “Ivy League goals,” Young explained. “Academics first, but excellence in all things.”
In the spring of 1980, just such a job opened at Yale. At the time, the athletes were still practicing and competing in a building that hadn’t been renovated since its construction in 1928 and the athletic director was hoping new leadership would help turn results around.
“I applied for both [the men’s and women’s coaching position] and got the women’s job,” Young said. “The law profession is still on hold.”
In 2000, Young became the first director of the track and cross country teams during a restructuring of the program. (Before there was simply a head men and women’s coach but no one overseeing the entire program.)
In his tenure at Yale, Young has overseen a number of successful teams. He has led the Bulldogs to six Heptagonal Championships and four top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships in women’s cross country as well as four ECAC titles.
In 1987, Young led Yale to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships — the best finish ever for an Ivy League women’s team — and was named the national Cross Country Coach of the Year. Young has also produced 19 All-American athletes in cross country and 17 in track and field during his tenure.
Beyond Yale, Young has served as an assistant coach for the United States Olympic Track and Field team in the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, and was named head coach of the U.S. Women’s Team at the World Indoor Championships in Barcelona, Spain in 1995.
In addition to holding national and world-level coaching positions, Young chaired the NCAA Track and Field Committee from 1989-1992 and served as co-commissioner of the 1995 Special Olympics World Games Athletics Venue when the games were held in New Haven.
Rhonda Vegliante, now the administrative assistant to the dean of Davenport College, worked with Young on this event.
“He’s just a great guy,” she said. “He’s going to be missed.”
Young said his decision did not result from any diminished appreciation for his job.
“It’s not that I’m tired of coaching, or tired of Yale,” Young explains. It is simply that, at the age of 65, he would like a little time to see his wife.
For the past 15 years, Young has had to commute from New Haven to Boston in order to see her, and he said it’s beginning to wear on him. Long seasons, beginning with cross country in September and continuing almost every weekend through the end of track in June, also leave Young very little time to travel or spend time at home. But he’s not complaining.
“We all do it because we love it,” Young said.
With some extra time on his hands now, he said his law career may resume after a decades-long hiatus.
“I’m going to have to find something to do with myself,” Young said. “I have continued to pay my dues to the Massachusetts Bar Association … just in case this didn’t work out. Now obviously this has and it’s been great, but it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that I would find some little niche [in law] again.”
Shoehalter, entering his 17th season as a coach at Yale, graduated in 1989 from the University of Pennsylvania with a history degree, where he captained the men’s track and field team. Shoehalter was later a member of the 4×400-meter relay team for the U.S. in the 1989 World Maccabiah Games. At Yale, he will continue to coach the sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers while taking on the position of director.
“[Shoehalter] has been very involved with all aspects of the program,” Young said. “He’s now been here for half the time that I’ve been here so I think that it’s a terrific thing that we’re doing.”