Justin Chapman | Echo
David Neville, the three-year head coach for men's and women's track and field, is moving on to a bigger stage. He announced on Monday he is resigning to be a sprints coach at the University of Tennessee.
The 2008 Olympic gold medalist helped the Trojans accomplish great goals. The men's and women's track and field program produced 30 NAIA All-Americans, 30 new school records and 106 national qualifiers during Neville's tenure.
"It's definitely a tough leave, to be here for three years," said Neville. "I've been here a little over three years. I've really enjoyed my time here. The community (and) the people here show me nothing but love. I think the hardest part is leaving behind the student-athletes that I've invested time in."
In Neville's words, God opened some opportunities he wasn't expecting. When he was offered a position at one of the top schools in the country in one of the best conferences, it was hard for him to pass up the opportunity.
Through prayer and wise counsel from others, Neville knew he should walk through the doors God opened. Nothing was negative about his experience at Taylor, but he felt moving on to a new stage of life was the best move for him and his family.
Some of Neville's favorite times at Taylor include going on spring break trips with the track and field team. Those experiences are where he really got to learn about the student-athletes and bond well with them.
Junior sprinter Sam Lacher said it was a surprise to him and most of the team when they found out about the news. However, he's happy for Neville and grateful for how Neville has developed Taylor's track program. Neville now has a new son, so Lacher is excited Neville can move on and do what is best for his family.
"He pushes you past what you think you can do, and then usually you succeed, and you surprise yourself," said Lacher. "So it just makes you want to work harder and harder every time."
Neville is leaving Taylor with many memories made. According to Neville, he has been shown that no matter what level he is at, no matter whether it's a secular or Christian environment, people need Jesus.
The simple truth is compelling to him after interacting with Taylor student-athletes.
"If you want to run track, and you get to be around an Olympic gold medalist who loves the Lord, and loves his family and really has his priorities in order, it's a really refreshing thing, right?" Athletics Director Kyle Gould said. "There's so much that goes on with people that's not good, he was such a good, humble, successful person."
Neville knows moving on to Tennessee will present its challenges. One of the biggest challenges will be the recruiting process. He is excited to guide higher-level athletes into the realm of professional sports.
Not many people go into college wanting to come out the other side a professional athlete. There is a chance that will happen at Tennessee, and when it does, Neville can help develop those athletes with his experience.
The athletic department is already on the search for a new coach. They hope to find someone who is an excellent coach but also develops student-athletes as well as Neville could.
"I'm really happy for him, and I'm disappointed for us because he just had so much to offer, not just for the track team but for our athletic department," said Gould. "We're going to definitely miss him, and we have our work cut out to replace him. Definitely mixed emotions, but (we're) really happy for him."
"Photograph provided by Cam Andry"