Head Track and Field Coach Jerry Arvin To Retire After 2024 Season

Alumni running the 1500 at the Alumni Meet. Photo courtesy of Jana Best.

Point Loma Nazarene University’s head track and field coach Jerry Arvin’s farewell season officially kicks off this weekend as his athletes are set to compete in their first meet at the Rossi Relays in Claremont, California.

Arvin announced his retirement ahead of the 2024 season after 37 years of coaching at PLNU. He spent a handful of years as an assistant coach before taking the helm of the cross-country program in 1994 — which he led until 2022 — and the track program in 1995.

During his time in charge, Arvin has coached 152 All-Americans in track and field, including 10 national championship appearances, and five All-Americans in cross-country. 

Arvin can recall all of their performances, but he said their successes did not depend on what he did.

“I remember all of them,” said Arvin. “It’s not my coaching; it’s God and them, their abilities.”

When PLNU was part of the NAIA, Arvin was named Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Coach of the Year 13 times and was honored as an NAIA Coach of the Year six times at a regional level. In the NCAA, he earned PacWest Coach of the Year in 2018 after coaching the women’s cross-country team to a conference title. Arvin was also inducted into the PLNU Athletics Hall of Fame for Outstanding Achievement as a coach in 1999.

While he has seen his share of successes, Arvin credits PLNU’s environment and people as the reasons he has stayed for nearly four decades.

“The Christian community — students, faculty, staff,” said Arvin. “And my athletes; they’re good to deal with, never give me grief. I really enjoy being with them.”

While his title is head coach, Arvin believes he was brought to PLNU for more than just coaching.

“It’s not the only reason I’m here,” said Arvin. “Faith is an important part of my life. I felt like I needed to share and challenge others in faith. It’s part of what’s expected to do as Christ followers.”

According to Eddie Morrow, who was a hurdler and sprinter on PLNU’s last men’s track and field team (‘13), the way Arvin recruited demonstrated his commitment to faith.

“When he was recruiting me, he said I don’t care how fast you are, I care where you are in your faith and where you are academically,” said Morrow. “I’ve been recruited by a bunch of schools and not a single one of them cared about that. I knew at that moment that Point Loma was the school I wanted to be at.”

Many recruited athletes also remember Arvin trying to “talk them out of” coming to PLNU. Arvin said he didn’t want athletes choosing PLNU because of track; he wanted them to choose the school and have track as a bonus. He said he accomplished this mission.

“I can count on one hand the number [of athletes] who transferred out,” said Arvin. “What I can’t count are others who track didn’t work out [for], but they still stayed [at PLNU].”

On Feb. 3, PLNU’s track team hosted its Green, Gold & Old Alumni Meet. The meet is a tradition, but this year’s also served as a retirement celebration for Arvin. Over 100 alumni attended, and like Morrow, most of them remembered their coach for things that have nothing to do with athletics.

Hurdler Carrie Vickery (‘99) said Arvin helped her navigate injury.

“He had news that I had a stress fracture which was devastating to me,” said Vickery. “He honored me so much and believed in me and helped me through that recovery. I feel like he was kinda my dad at college and just really made things work even when they were tough.”

Hurdler, sprinter and long jumper Jana Best (‘02) said Arvin was the reason she stayed at PLNU.

“I was homesick my freshman year wanting to go home to New Mexico,” said Best. “And Coach Arvin picked me up, took me to lunch, on the way there put a tissue box in my lap knowing that I was going to be emotional. He just behaved like a father figure, and he was the reason that I got to stay and did well.”

Arvin put in the extra hours for his athletes off the track, but he also worked overtime on the track, according to hurdler Avery Takata, formerly Avery Avina (‘21).

“Coach was fed up with me not knowing how to hurdle,” said Takata. “So, he came out and had me come out at 6:30 every morning before we had morning practice. He would wake up and drive here and coach me on my hurdle form at 6:30 in the morning every day my freshman year until I figured it out.”

While the Alumni Meet was overwhelming for Arvin, he said it was a great day.

“I was absolutely shocked, humbled and grateful for how many people were there,” said Arvin.

Now, Arvin said he is ready for his current athletes to compete.

“We have a good make-up of the team, a little bit of everything,” said Arvin. “I expect a lot. They just need to believe in themselves to be the best they can be.”

Once the 2024 season concludes, Arvin said he hopes to visit family in New Mexico and Indiana, but he doesn’t have any set plans.

“Cross-country and track are my hobbies,” said Arvin “I don’t know how bored I’ll get. I hope I find stuff to do and continue to be active.”