Sept. 14, 2009
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- First-year University of Tennessee Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark has put the finishing touches on his staff. Clark announced Monday that he has named Brown University assistant Jerome Romain as jumps coach, Brooke (Novak) Gildea as the director of operations and Jim Sexton as his operations assistant.
Those three join associate head coach George Watts (men's distance), assistant Norbert Elliott (men's sprints), assistant John Frazier (men's and women's throws) and assistant Heather Van Norman (women's sprints) to round out Clark's inaugural full-time staff.
Clark, who was named to direct both programs on June 22 after former men's coach Bill Webb retired on May 18, also has three volunteer coaches who return. They include David Job (women's pole vault), Russ Johnson (men's pole vault) and Charlie Simpkins (jumps).
"I am ecstatic to have assembled such a great coaching staff," Clark said. "Jerome is the last of the coaches we hired, and his combination of coaching skills, knowledge of the jumps, participation with championship programs and successful academic background as a student-athlete, and as an advisor to student-athletes, was exactly what we were looking for. His personal pursuit of academic and athletic excellence represents what we are about at Tennessee, and I look forward to having him on our staff."
Romain comes to Knoxville after spending the past four seasons as assistant coach for jumps and multi-events for the Brown Bears. During his tenure in Providence, he produced an All-American and six NCAA regional qualifiers for the Ivy League school, and saw those athletes chart three school records and 23 different top-10 BU field events performances.
While he was at Brown, Romain earned the honor of coaching the track & field team for the Caribbean island nation of Dominica at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He also helmed the country's national team at the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil.
Prior to his move to the East Coast, Romain spent four years as a volunteer coach at the University of Wisconsin. During his stint in Madison, he produced six individual Big Ten champions and four NCAA qualifiers. Romain's student-athletes additionally helped the Badgers win four Big Ten titles while he was there.
In addition to his collegiate and international coaching experience, Romain draws from a personal history as a world-class jumper. He was a finalist at the 1996 Olympic Games and a four-time World Championships finalist in the triple jump while competing for Dominica. In 1995, as the world's fourth ranked triple jumper, he claimed a bronze medal at the World Championships and a silver medal at the Pan American Games.
As a collegian, Romain was a five-time national champion at Blinn (Texas) Junior College and a five-time All-American at the University of Arkansas, where he was the NCAA runner-up in the triple jump on three occasions and served as team captain in 1995. His personal bests include 57-8 1/2 in the triple jump and 26-7 1/4 in the long jump.
Romain earned an associate's degree in science from Blinn in May 1993, a bachelor's in kinesiology/athletic training from Arkansas in May 1996 and a master's in kinesiology/exercise science from UA in 2000. Among the academic honors he earned were GTE Academic All-America First Team in 1995, SEC Academic Honor Roll in 1995, UA Dean's List from 1994-96 and the Arthur Ashe Jr. award in 1994-95. Additionally, he was a member of the Kappa Delta Phi education honor society and spent time while pursuing his master's as an academic advisor to soccer and track & field student-athletes at UA.
"It is definitely an exciting moment for me, coming back to coach in the SEC," Romain said. "I competed in this conference many years ago, and to return is really exciting, especially with it being the University of Tennessee, which has such a strong and excellent tradition. I'm looking forward to joining the staff and contributing to the continued success, academically and athletically, with a great program that is led by coach Clark."
Gildea, who is married to former Vol distance runner Patrick Gildea, takes over the director of operations position left vacant with Amy Ranker's departure this summer. Gildea (Novak) was a three-time All-SEC and All-South Region honoree in cross country and a two-time All-American on the oval for the Lady Vols, including an NCAA title with UT's distance medley relay unit in 2004. She also won three SEC titles on the oval during her career, including the indoor 3K in 2004 and with the Lady Vol DMR in 2004 and 2005. She is 2006 UT graduate with a degree in human ecology.
Formerly an administrative assistant with the men's team for three seasons, Sexton will now report to, and work directly with, Clark after being chosen for the operations assistant position for both programs. A native of Knoxville and a graduate of Central High School, Sexton lettered on the Big Orange track & field team from 2004-06 and served as a team co-captain during his final season. He is one of the finest weight and hammer throwers to ever compete at Rocky Top, having won an SEC title in the hammer in 2006 and qualified for the NCAA Championships in that event as well. He is a 2006 UT graduate, possessing a bachelor's in geography.