Alumna Avery Takata Hired As Associate Head Track and Field Coach

Coach Avery Takata coaching her athletes, Brynn Celani and Maddy Worley. Photo courtesy of PLNU Athletics.

Point Loma Nazarene University alumna Avery Takata, a current assistant coach for the track and field team, is stepping into the role of associate head track and field coach beginning April 1.

“I feel so much peace, and I’m so excited to step into the role,” Takata said in between shouts of encouragement and instruction to her athletes.

Takata has been a part of PLNU’s track and field program for eight years; after being an athlete for five years, she is currently in her third year as an assistant coach.

As a student-athlete, Takata (then Avina) specialized in the sprint relays and the 400-meter hurdles. She was an All-PacWest competitor in the 4×400-meter and the 4×100-meter relays, helping PLNU to third-place finishes in the PacWest Championships in 2019. 

When she was a senior, she ran her personal best time in the conference championships prelims of the 400-meter hurdles; she went on to finish fourth in the finals. Takata was also a PacWest All-Academic selection every year she wore the Sea Lion uniform.

The current seniors on the team competed alongside Takata when they were freshmen and she was a fifth-year graduate student. They have seen Takata in every stage of her journey: from athlete to assistant coach to associate head coach. 

Maddy Worley, a fourth-year communication studies major and standout sprinter, said she and Takata did many of their workouts together, and Takata was the type of teammate that made everyone around her a better athlete.

“When she became a coach, I knew that would give her even more of an opportunity to do that, and she’s done a fantastic job in the assistant position. She’s always a great encourager and she’ll still run the workouts with us, which is really respectable,” Worley said with a chuckle. “I think she’s going to make even more of an impact with the new position.”

Takata currently helps coach the same events she competed in as a Sea Lion: sprints, hurdles and relays. She said she took the assistant coaching position mainly to help head track and field coach Jerry Arvin because she knew he was toward the end of his career. Arvin has been at the helm of the track and field program for over 3 decades and announced he will retire after the 2024 season.

With Arvin’s announcement, Takata said people started asking her if she was going to step up. She said she told everyone that she didn’t want to step into the role, but she would be happy to stick around as long as someone needs help since she’s familiar with the program and the team members.

“But then I started to realize, oh, maybe there isn’t another person,” Takata said. “Maybe it’s actually me that needs to step up.”

With encouragement from Arvin, Takata started to consider the associate head coach position as a real possibility.

“Coach Arvin told me that he wanted me to do it, and that alone was such an honor to hear him say, ‘I think you could do this. I think you’d be good at it and you could grow into it,’” Takata said.

Being early in her career, Takata said she has the opportunity to make it whatever she wants, and she realized her passion for track and field and her calling to “make disciples of college-aged girls” aligned with the associate head coach position.

Arvin said that while Takata possesses the necessary administrative skills and knowledge of the sport, the program and the institution, it is that passion and desire that make her the right fit.

“If you look at this as a job, you’re probably never going to be satisfied,” Arvin said. “You want to do it because it’s something you love to do. I hope she enjoys it as much as I do.”

The athletic department is still looking for someone to fill Arvin’s head coach position, but Takata, as associate head coach, will work alongside the new hire to help the transition go as smoothly as possible.

In her new role, Takata said she’s excited to give back to the program that gave her so much.

“I grew so much as a student,” Takata said. “I came here and wasn’t a believer, and I met the Lord my sophomore year and really grew in my faith. I hope to see the girls become Christ-centered leaders. Even if one girl comes to faith over my time at Point Loma, it’ll have been worth it.”