Coach Tussing with a group of throwers at the 2012 CAA Championships
Entering his eighth year with the VCU Track and Field program, Coach Ethan Tussing (pronounced two-sing) looks to continue to expand upon his career in which he has developed the Ram throwers into an impressive corps that has been extremely successful on the conference level and has become a presence on the national stage.
People always say they are willing to do whatever is necessary to take the next step in their career. Tussing has taken that saying to a whole new level.
Upon his arrival at VCU in 2007, he took over the cross country and throwing events for the women’s team. In 2008 as the women’s interim head coach, he additionally took charge of the sprints and jumps events. The following year, in 2009, he returned to solely guiding the Ram’s distance runners and throwers. Now heading into the 2012-2013 season, Tussing focus has been upon the throwing events for both men and women for the past two years. At every step in his progression, Tussing has more than succeeded.
In order to reach the levels of success the Ram throwers have achieved Tussing has spent countless hours dedicated to the throwing events in order to take that next step. Many of those hours have been spent learning from some of the nation’s most elite throw coaches. He has been mentored by two time Olympic medalist and NCAA shot put record holder John Godina, former discus world record holder and Olympic gold medalist Mac Wilkins, and legendary hammer throw coach Larry Judge. Tussing’s hunger for knowledge has been paramount in the team’s success in recent years.
The 2012 season was a marquee year for the Ram throwers. The men’s and women’s twelve throwers scored 90 points at the CAA championship meet, outscoring all other teams’ in the throwing events and many entire teams in the meet. As a team the VCU throwers collected 7 All-CAA awards, 12 ECAC/IC4A qualifying marks, 1 All-East distinction, and 15 event victories during the year.
On the individual side redshirt sophomore Jaleesa Williams started out the year with a streak of five straight meets in which she broke her own school record in the indoor shot put. Williams record breaking didn’t stop there as she went on to set additional school records in the weight throw, discus, and outdoor shot put. For her efforts at the CAA championship meet where she won the shot and discus and was third in the hammer, garnering 3 all conference accolades, Williams was named the Women’s Most Outstanding Field Performer of the meet. Her performance in the disc at the CAA meet, 160’9, secured a spot in the NCAA East Preliminary round, placing her as the first sophomore and second thrower in school history to do so.
On the men’s side Brandon Ruffin had a standout freshman campaign in which he was awarded CAA Men’s Track and Field Rookie of the Year. Ruffin’s highlights included winning the CAA title in the men’s shot put, taking second in the CAA in the discus, breaking the school record in the discus in his first competition, and qualifying for the USA Junior National Championships in the shot and disc.
The 2011 season, Tussing’s first with both the men’s and women’s throwers, was a strategic season in which some key performers were redshirted. Junior Julia Anyaugo highlighted the year when she qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds after her school record discus throw of 157’8, ranked her in the top 48 of the eastern half of the country. This marked the first time in school history that a thrower had qualified for the NCAA post season. Anyaugo paired with fellow junior Samantha Mosley were named All-CAA performaers.The women’s duo was joined by Niko Wooten who achieved his All-CAA accolade for finishing 3rd in the men’s javelin.
In the 2010 season, the women’s throwers reached new levels of achievement under Tussing’s direction. Jaleesa Williams as a freshman shattered the indoor school record in the shot put and qualified for the ECAC Indoor Championships where she finished 10th overall. Outdoors she finished up her amazing shot put season achieving All-CAA recognition with a third place finish at the CAA Championship. She was accompanied in the CAA final by Mosley in 5th place and her sister, sophomore Jessica Williams, in 7th.
Despite the accomplishments of the women’s shot putters, the discus was the team’s most improved event for the year with the school record being held by both Williams sisters and Anyaugo throughout the season. At the end of the season the record ended up in the hands of Anyaugo with a throw that propelled her to a second place finish at the CAA Championships achieving All-CAA accolades. Jaleesa rounded out the CAA discus scoring for the Rams by finishing in 4th place. Anyaugo went on later in the season to finish 10th in the discus at the ECAC Outdoor Championships.
Furthermore, sophomore Brandy Preston took 6th place in the hammer throw and junior Kelsey Farmer finished in 8th at the CAA Championships. This was the first time in VCU history that multiple throwers scored in three throwing events at the CAA Championship meet. In addition to the throwers’ achievements at championship level competitions they also excelled throughout the duration of the season as a whole with each of the women’s throwers achieving a personal best; a staple of the program under Tussing’s tutelage that continues to this day.
In 2009 senior Natalie Duncan achieved the furthest shot put throw of the year in the entire CAA Conference when she crushed the previous VCU school record with a throw of 45’7.75. She also placed 4th in the CAA championship meet that year. Anyaugo and Mosley as freshmen took fifth and eighth respectively in the discus at the CAA Championships to become the first VCU freshmen throwers to ever score at the meet.
Vast improvement was the story in 2008 when Tussing led senior Kira Hauser and junior Duncan to improve their throwing distance in the shot put more than three feet from their previous bests. In the process Duncan finished tied for fifth in the CAA championship meet with her first ever throw over 43 feet.
In addition to his success in the throwing events, Tussing has guided VCU athletes to 11 school records, 15 All-CAA accolades, 97 VCU Top Ten All Time performances, and an amazing 187 personal bests. He also guided the cross country team to its highest CAA conference finish in six years, while simultaneously achieving their highest team GPA.
Prior to his arrival in Richmond, Tussing worked for six years with the prestigious Florida Gator Track & Field program in a variety of positions under the guidance of legendary head coach Michael “Mouse” Holloway. During his latest role at UF as an intern coach of men’s middle distance, his athletes excelled to achieve one All-American honor, six NCAA qualifying marks, and one USA Junior National Championship qualifying mark. He also assisted with sprints, hurdles, and relays where he mentored seven additional All-Americans and two SEC Conference Champions. Throughout his entire six-year time with the UF program Tussing was involved in the development of four NCAA National Track & Field Runner-up teams, one SEC Championship team, eight NCAA individual or relay championships, and 105 All-America honorees.
He got his start in coaching as an assist coach for the Gainesville All-Stars Professional Track & Field Club. Working with the club team he helped guide World Champions such as John Capel and Kerron Clement, Olympic Silver Medalist Bernard Williams, World Championship Runner-up Derrick Atkins, and seven additional Olympians. He also trained football players in speed development in preparation for running the 40 yard dash prior to the 2006 NFL Draft.
Tussing graduated cum laude from Florida in 2005 with a degree in Exercise and Sports Science. He is certified by USA Track and Field as a Level 1 Coaching Education Instructor and is certified as a USATF Level 2 Coach in the Throws as well as Sprints, Hurdles, and Relays.