ASA College filled its track and field position with one of the most accomplished coaches in the area when they hired former New Jersey City University (NJCU) lead mad Reggie James.
The New Jersey native had indirect ties to the ASA program thanks to his association with a former Avengers track coach, Christopher Mills.
"I know Chris Mills, who was my assistant at Holy Family," James said of his connection to ASA. "We talked about the opening, now that one of his old coaches [at ASA] is now his assistant. So, when the ASA coach left, I was interested, so I reached out to [athletic director] Steve [Bernath]. And now here we are."
James will bring his own style to the Avengers program off the strength of nearly two decades of experience as a coach and athlete on the collegiate, high school, and club levels. James, 30, served as head cross country, and track and field coach at Division II Holy Family University in Philadelphia in 2014-15, where he helped the program achieve multiple school records and a Collegiate Track Conference (CTC) relay crown. And prior to that, he served two years (2012-14) as assistant cross country and track and field coach at Montclair State (NJ) University, where he contributed to practices and created workouts for the distant runners. He also specialized in cross training and endurance workouts, and during the Spring 2014 campaign he coached five Red Hawks to All-America honors and multiple school records.
He admitted it was tough to leave NJCU, but the opportunity at ASA was too enticing to bypass.
"I was at a D-II school before, so to be able to build a program intrigued me. And I know ASA needs New York-based student-athletes, so I'm hoping to use my connections to build that," James said, adding he's eager to use ASA's wealth of resources. "Being at [Division-III] NJCU where there's no scholarships, you kind of lose out to schools that offer. With no scholarships to offer, you kind of lose a lot of those connections because it may not be feasible to get kids in there without some sort of assistance. Being here at ASA gives me the best opportunity. … At a D-III, it's for the love of the sport, but many student-athletes need that [financial] assistance. You can still get good athletes [at a D-III], but with ASA there's more [resources]. A student-athlete gets the opportunity to live out his or her dream of getting to a major college or university."
The former Willingboro (NJ) High School star and 2004 graduate of Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Westampton, New Jersey, where he was a four-year cross country performer, James was a part of BCIT's 2003 cross country titlist team and helped Willingboro to state championships during his prep career (2000-04). He ran impressive middle and distance times for the Chimeras in the 400 (52.5), 800 (1:59), 1,600 (4:35), and 3,200 meters (10:30), with a best of 17:45 in cross country (5K).
He feels his past experience as an accomplished runner and decorated coach will serve him well at ASA.
"Number one, my philosophy and ability to build and develop student-athletes is my advantage. Based off my background, I've worked with Olympians and have shown through my experience to build winners – from the new athlete who never really ran competitively before to ones who go on to be Olympians," James said, adding the lure of sending student-athletes to some of the top four-year major colleges and universities will also help. "I can also sell them on chasing their [Division-I] dreams. Say a kid wants to go to a school like Oregon. Maybe they got offered [a scholarship], but for some reason they didn't meet the requirements to get in. So, they can come here, work their butts off, compete, get seen, and have that opportunity to transfer back to that dream school."
The relative closeness in age also helps, James added.
"And I'm young enough to still relate to today's student-athletes because I still run, and I'm still in school. It may have been a while since I was an undergraduate, but I can still relate [because] they know what it's like to have to get your studies done and get to practice on time," said James. "I'm still in their generation. And an older coach may have a different philosophy than that of today's student-athletes can't relate to. We may listen to the same music, have some of the same interests, watch the same TV shows … they see that 'Coach gets me.' And if I'm able to work on getting my Master's while still getting to practice on time, then they can, too. I think that helps a lot."
James is all about helping the youth, as he noted he'll still handle his role as the head coach of the Pure Acceleration Track Club in Stanhope, New Jersey – a place he's been at since 2015, and where he has mentored the 13/14-year old boys indoor national record holders in the 200 meters, 4x200, 4x400, and sprint medley relays and helped the program claim multiple national championships and All-America recognition.
James, who intends on starting his tenure at ASA within the week, will still act as a liaison with the team's assistant coach until he officially takes ASA by storm.
More on James:
- James started his collegiate career at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (2004-05), before transferring to Kean (NJ) University, where he was a three-year student-athlete, earning the program's Most Valuable Player award in 2006-07. At Kean he broke school records in the 500, 1,000, 4x400, and 4x800, and was ranked top three all time in the 800. He currently holds five track and field school records at Kean, and notched personal best outdoor times of 49.87 in the 400 and 1:53.27 in the 800 (1:58.92 indoors). In 2012, he continued running for the adidas Garden State Track Club and later was a part of its former 4x800 record holders.
- A December 2009 graduate of Kean, James earned a degree in Business Management. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University Irvine.
He began his coaching career as an assistant at Kean, working with the long jump, high jump, and triple-jump athletes. And from 2006-09 he was an assistant with the Willingboro Track Club (2006-09), which produced a number of collegiate champions, including Olympian English Gardner.
James also coached the 2015-16 season at Wayne Hills (NJ) High School as an assistant, helping guide the school to a Passaic County girls championship, while coaching one of the top boys 200 and 400-meter indoor runners in the state (Tyler Hayek).
- James resides in Bloomfield, New Jersey.