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Jimmy Stephens is in his third year as the head coach of the men's and women's cross country and track and field programs at USC Upstate.
After a year of building the program, holding only practices, the Spartans' cross country program resumed after three years off and he launched the first track and field team in school history in 2007.
The 2008 cross country team produced a host of Upstate firsts, including the school's first Eye Opener medalist in Emily Tangwar and the first men's A-Sun award winner, as James Jackson was named to the All-Freshman team. Jemali Sang earned women's All-Freshman honors and both teams improved at the A-Sun Cross Country Championships. The men's team jumped two slots to eighth and the women moved four spots to seventh.
In the fall of 2007, he helped coach Emily Tangwar to a second-place finish at the Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships, helping her earn Freshman of the Year honors. He also directed the men's cross country team to a 10th-place finish at the Atlantic Sun Championships in the 12-team meet.
The remarkable success of the fledgling program continued in the winter, as the Upstate men's team took sixth and the women eighth at the Indoor Track & Field Championships last season. In the process, Stephens tutored both Atlantic Sun Most Outstanding Freshman honorees in Perrish Goggins (men) and Emily Tangwar (women). Tangwar also took home the Most Outstanding Runner at the meet after winning three events, the mile run, the 3,000-meter run and the 5,000-meter run.
In the spring of 2008, he led the team to several strong performances and helped coach Goggins to A-Sun Athlete of the Week honor after Goggins finished in the top three in three events at the Furman Invitational. Tangwar also had a distinguished spring, winning the 3,000-meter run at the 49er Classic and competing in the 10,000 meters at the Penn Relays, the oldest amateur track meet in America.
Stephens came to USC Upstate after holding the position as the recreation coordinator for the town of Mt. Pleasant (S.C.) for five years. He oversaw the youth programs for track and field, cross country and football. After starting the Mt. Pleasant Track club, the club has grown to be the biggest track club in the state. The club has won four overall state team championship titles, helped multiple individual state champions, and sent several individuals to regional and national Junior Olympic meets.
Prior to his position in Mt. Pleasant, Stephens was the director of track and field operations for the men's and women's programs at the University of Alabama from 1999-2000. He began his head coaching experience at nearby Wofford College where he started the track and field programs and also served as the head coach of the cross country teams from 1996-1999. He led the Terriers' program from Division II into the Southern Conference and Division I. He developed a highly-competitive and well-rounded program at Wofford and led the women's cross country program to its highest Southern Conference finish in the history of the program.
Stephens began his coaching career at the end of his collegiate career as a pole vaulter at the University of South Carolina. A member of the Gamecocks track and field team, he suffered a career-ending shoulder injury during his sophomore year. The Gamecocks coaching staff asked him to stay on as a student assistant coach for three years until he graduated from the University in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in sport administration. After leaving USC, he worked with the Metro Sports Council in Columbia from 1991-93. He then became the assistant track and field and cross country coach at Furman University from 1993-1996.
Stephens and his wife, Pat, were married on July 21, 2007. They have a son, James Asher, born on May 26, 2009.