Derek Nelson joined the Emory track and field program as assistant coach in the fall of 2018. In November of 2018, he was appointed Interim Head Coach of the indoor and outdoor track and field teams.
Nelson joins the Eagles’ program after spending the past two years as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Illinois, where he worked with the program’s sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers. He helped mentor five All-America performers, 12 NCAA Regional qualifiers, three Big Ten champions and a dozen All-Big Ten honorees. He was actively involved in a variety of areas within the Fighting Illini program, including recruiting, academic support and strength and conditioning. During his time in Champaign, he also served as a Student Services Advisor at Parkland College.
Prior to his stint at Illinois, Nelson spent two campaigns on the coaching staff at North Central College, where he oversaw the instruction of sprinters, hurdlers, javelin and multis across the men’s and women’s programs. In 2016 he played a key role in guiding four individual athletes and two relays to the NCAA D-III Championships. From that group came the national champ in the women’s indoor 60-meter hurdles, the runner-up in the 100 hurdles and a total of five All-America awards. While coaching at North Central, Nelson also served as the graduate assistant for the career center and interned with athletic department as the promotions coordinator.
A native of Davis, California, Nelson transferred from Ripon College to North Central College where he graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. In his two years at NCC, he served as the track and field team captain, competed in seven NCAA Championship meets and earned 3 All-America awards. While at Ripon, he played football and competed in track and field, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 400 hurdles. He obtained his master’s degree in higher education administration from North Central in 2016.
Nelson holds the USTFCCCA Jumps Specialists Certification.