Dedication, commitment and passion are three words often associated with Virginia Commonwealth University Track & Field Head Coach Jon Riley. They are descriptors of his teams, his coaching philosophy and Coach Jon Riley as a person. Since joining taking over the reins of VCU Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country programs in 2008, he has overseen the makeover of a program using those three key ingredients.
“From day one, Jon and his staff hit the ground and haven’t stopped,” VCU Athletic Director Norwood Teague said. “The passion and dedication they have shown to their program and student-athlete is unmatched. As an administration, we are extremely excited about the future of VCU women’s track & field.”
Coach Jon Riley provides stability to a program that had seen three different coaches in as many years prior to his arrival. Riley’s impact on the women’s team was so immediate that two years later, he was elevated to men’s coach of track & field and cross country as well. It’s easy to see how he paced himself to an elevated position in such a short time.
In 2009-2010, just two years into his tenure, Riley led the Black & Gold to its best CAA Championship performance in six years. The Jon Riley era has also seen 22 school records broken and seen every member of the VCU women’s track & field roster set at least one personal best.
“My staff and I are dedicated to this program and we love what we do,” Riley said. “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to put our athletes in the best position to be successful, both on and off the track. Whether it’s fundraising or researching events we’re not that familiar with or working around an unforeseen winter, we’ll do whatever it takes for these girls.”
Richmond isn’t the only stop in Riley’s coaching career that’s been successful. From 2005 to 2008, Coach Riley was an assistant at Belmont University in Nashville. He worked primarily with sprinters and jumpers. There he helped four different Bruins become NCAA Regional qualifiers, and he coached a total of nine Atlantic Sun Conference champions. In particular, Lynette Rives showcased a high level of excellence under Riley’s tutelage. She was an All-American in 2008 and also All-Region and a NCAA National qualifier in the 200 meters.
Prior to his stint at Belmont, Riley held the same position at his alma mater, Southeast Missouri State. While working with the jumpers, pole vaulters, javelin throwers and hurdlers, Coach Jon Riley helped the women’s program capture three Ohio Valley Conference championships and numerous All-Conference awards.
His coaching career began right out of college as he spent five years as an assistant at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, known around the state of Louisiana as a powerhouse on the track.
Before he began his career as a coach, Jon Riley was two-sport star at Southeast Missouri State. Riley was a four-year starter at Wide Receiver for the Red Hawks. In addition to his days on the gridiron, Riley was a track and field standout. He would go on to earn five Ohio Valley Conference individual titles, qualify three times provisionally for the NCAA’s, break the school record in the Long Jump and score the most combined points in school history at conference meets.
He graduated from Southeast Missouri State in 1998 with a degree in Mass Communication. He later earned his Master’s in Athletic Administration there in 2005.
|The Jon Riley File
Coaching Experience: 2001-03 Assistant Coach St. Augustine High - New Orleans, LA
2003-05 Assistant Coach Southeast Missouri State University
2005-08 Assistant Coach Belmont University
2008- present Head Coach Virginia Commonwealth University
Coaching Highlights: 14 individual conference champions
27 individual school records broken
5 team conference championships
1 NCAA All-American
2005 Southeast Missouri State M.A. Athletic Administration