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An outstanding athlete in college, Nguyen earned eight all-conference selections

by John Baker Brown, Campus Life

The Emory Eagles’ newest head coach was named NCAA Division III South/Southeast Region Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year for 2019 after leading the men's team to three first-place performances. 

Linh NguyenLinh Nguyen (pronounced “Ling Win”) joined the Emory program in June 2019 after serving as director of cross country/track and field at the University of Toledo. Earlier in his career, he coached for 12 seasons at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was named conference Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2011.

An outstanding student-athlete at Lynchburg College, Nguyen earned eight all-conference selections and helped lead the cross-country team to a conference title in 1999. 

Nguyen holds a bachelor’s in sports medicine from Lynchburg and a master’s in exercise physiology from UNC-Greensboro. He is a USATF level II certified endurance coach and a level II certified sprint/hurdle/relay coach.

“Linh is more than deserving of this award and I am certain it will be the first of many more accolades to come his way,” said athletics director Mike Vienna. He’s a rising star in the college coaching ranks and Emory is very fortunate to have attracted him to lead our programs. In his short time here, Linh has already made a positive impact on our programs, but more importantly on our student-athletes.”

A conversation with Linh Nguyen, Emory’s head coach for cross country /track and field

Connections: Why did you choose to be a coach and why your sport?

Nguyen: With an original plan to pursue a PhD and get into academia, I found a love for coaching during my master’s studies. Starting as a volunteer and then a paid assistant, this experience ignited my passion for coaching and changed my career path. 

Linh Nguyen Connections: Did you play your sport? If so, when, where, and how many years?

Nguyen: I competed in high school for my alma mater, East Hampton on Long Island, NY. I also competed all four years in both cross country and track and field at Lynchburg College as an undergrad.

Connections: Why did you choose Emory University?

Nguyen: I see Emory University as an elite Institution, and elite is something I strive to be. I saw an opportunity to be surrounded by people at the top of their field and collaboratively pushing each other to new heights. That’s an environment I’ve always been looking for professionally and I think it’s unique.

Connections: What would you like to say about the Emory Eagles you coach?

Nguyen: I was lucky to inherit a team of student-athletes that were eager to take things to the next level. I think being a student-athlete at Emory is motivating because you see elite performances with all the other teams and it makes you to want the same thing. The Eagles I coach are driven to take the program to the highest level and that made it easier for me as a coach to facilitate those goals.
Connections: What would you like to say about Emory’s athletics program?

Nguyen: I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it is elite. Emory provides an amazing platform for high-achieving student-athletes to showcase their athletic abilities on the biggest stage. I feel a sense of community and a desire for all teams to be nationally competitive. The athletics program is supportive and conscientious of student-athlete welfare and providing a first-class experience.

Linh NguyenConnections: What advice would you offer to athletes in secondary school aspiring to play your sport in college?

Nguyen: Our sport is a lifestyle sport, and so everything you do has a direct effect on your performance. I think if people want to do this in college, they need to understand that fact and make life choices accordingly. You should choose to do things that will lead you down the path you want to go with athletics. There is no short cut and the ROI is high if you are doing things correctly.
Connections: What do you recall as one or more of the highest points in your career?

Nguyen: I’ve had a lot of times that I would consider to be high points in my career, and it’s hard to pinpoint any one that really stands out above the rest. I think the reason is that even though some performances may be statistically better than others, as a coach you know each individual student-athlete’s journey to reach those performances, and so they are each special in their own way.

I think for me it is just that – seeing somebody give so much of themselves over such a long period of time for that one special moment when it all comes together in competition.

Connections: What would you like to say about being named Region Coach of the Year?

Nguyen: I think Coach of the Year awards are really a recognition of those around the coach. A family sacrifices time with a loved one so that they can go try to mold young men and women through sport. The student-athletes bought in and worked hard and gave all that was asked of them.

Finally, the University and athletic department gave the support necessary for the coach to enact their vision. Nobody wins a Coach of the Year award without all of that. So, I think it’s more a recognition of a culture and environment than it is one person. Because of that, it’s always an honor to win one of these awards and see the hard work and sacrifice of so many people be recognized.

(Pictured above with Nguyen are assistant coaches Derek Nelson and Jessica Fritsche. The event was the Emory Crossplex Showdown, which took place in Birmingham, Alabama, January 19.)

Read more

Linh Nguyen’s bio: https://www.emoryathletics.com/sports/mxc/coaches/Nguyen?view=bio

Emory Names Linh Nguyen Cross Country/Track & Field Head Coach

Emory's national championship honors, 1996 to present: https://emoryathletics.com/General/NationalChampions/index