by: JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor
Eric Vance recently became the new assistant track coach this summer, following the departure of former long-time assistant coach Blaine Wiley.
Wiley left SPC after a 10-year stint to join the track and field program as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama. In his time at SPC, Wiley helped coach the track and field team to 28 National Junior College Athletic Association championships, and had 107 NJCAA individual and relay champions. Vance received a bachelor’s degree in Health Science Studies from Baylor University in 2008, as well as a master’s degree in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University in 2010.
While at LSU, Vance coached the vertical and horizontal jumps as a graduate assistant.
Vance comes to SPC from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he won multiple Sunbelt Conference championships coaching the horizontal and vertical jumps, as well as the heptathlon and decathlon.
Vance was back home in Panhandle, Texas, this summer when a former co-worker informed him of the opportunity to coach at SPC. Vance was aware of SPC’s success in track and field, and says he was very excited to join the coaching staff.
“I got a call from one of my former coworkers who asked me if I’d be interested in coming down here,” explains Vance. “I jumped at the chance to come down here. I knew the history of South Plains, and the kind of program they ran, and the amount of success they had.”
Vance will be coaching the long jump, triple jump, and high jump events, along with all the sprinting events. He also will help coach the decathletes and heptathletes alongside head coach Chris Beene. Vance says his first impression of the coaches and athletes couldn’t have been any better.
“I’ve been very impressed with the athletes,” says Vance. “The caliber athletes they have here rivals anywhere that I’ve been. This is a great place, and we’ve got a great group.”
After coming from a successful program at ULM, Vance is no stranger to the pressure of winning. He says he hopes to be able to help continue SPC’s tradition of track and field dominance.
“I like to win, man, I really like to win,” said Vance. “I wanted to coach high-level athletes in high-level meets, and win championships when I got into college coaching, and I really get the opportunity to do that here. So I’m excited about it.”
In addition, Vance says he would like to help keep the program on the right path on and off the field “I want to be able to continue what they have done here, and keep on the right track,” Vance explained. “Get the kids graduated, that’s the number one thing. Get the kids graduated and in to Division I schools”
Although this is Vance’s first year as assistant coach at SPC, he says he expects big things from the athletes. “The goal is to win a national championship,” Vance said. “If you start the year and you don’t think you can win a national championship, then you’ve messed up somewhere along the line. But I definitely think we could do that.