When the best of the best runners in the United States hit the track in Toronto, Ontario, this summer in the U.S. Pan American Games, the man that will lead the Americans is one of the most respected names associated with running in the country.
Accomplishing feat-after-feat on the biggest of stages in running, John Moon, the head coach of the Americans has made more than enough history throughout his career.
Out of all of the special opportunities that the running and coaching legend has had, his favorite thing that he gets to do is develop young runners in the sport, using his countless years of experience and bringing that to South Orange, N.J., where he performs his everyday job as the head coach of the Seton Hall cross country program.
In his 43rd year at the University, Moon has produced excellence at The Hall, guiding the program into a transition from track to exclusively cross country five years ago.
For Moon, who coached the Pan American squad 20 years ago in the games and led the team to 36 medals, to be back at the helm is an honor.
“To be recognized and nominated by my peers is truly humbling, and it’s a privilege to be coaching the Pan American squad,” said Moon. “It’s another experience that I cannot wait to take on in a sport that continues to evolve. I’m really looking forward to it. And this is just not another accomplishment for me. It’s so special to have this opportunity at this point in my coaching career.”
Coming from Rahway High School, Moon arrived on the scene at Seton Hall to take over the head coaching position in 1972. His success in guiding the Pirates was accompanied by special opportunities just a few years into his time in South Orange. Moon led the United States Junior National team in 1975, coaching a group that traveled internationally to Poland, Germany, and Russia. In their travels, the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams broke world records.
Perhaps Moon’s biggest accomplishment of his career came when he served as the first assistant coach for the United States Men’s Track Team in Sydney during the 2000 Summer Olympics.
“Working with professional athletes throughout the years has certainly brought a different dynamic to my career,” said Moon. “Coaching at that level and seeing what it takes to build a winner has helped me to instill that in our athletes here at Seton Hall. Throughout my years of coaching, the one thing that I have been able to learn more than anything is how to build winning. It’s what drives me even today, which is why I cannot wait for the opportunity this summer to be in Canada.”
Moon’s success is well-documented, as the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association hall of famer has coached 19 Olympic athletes during his career, including four runners that competed in the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, one in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and one in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
At the collegiate level, Moon powered Seton Hall to national relevance right from the get-go. Ever since he coached the mile relay team to first place at the NCAA Indoor Championships in just his first year in South Orange, he has continued to climb what has been a ladder of achievements. The Big East has named Moon the Coach of the Year seven times in his career. He has been named the Metropolitan Coach of the Year 11 times and the Collegiate Track Conference Coach of the Year six times.
Not only has the legendary coach produced results throughout competitions, but Moon has stressed a constant commitment to academic excellence. In 2013, the men’s cross country team took home the BIG EAST Team Excellence Award in recognition of their coneference-leading GPA and three cross country student-athletes were inducted into the National College Athlete Honor Society, Chi Alpha Sigma.
Moon will travel to Oregon this month to observe national meets before selecting who he wants to add to the American squad for the Pan Am games. While the 43-year coach has been through many experiences, Moon is looking forward to another fresh opportunity.
“In this sport, you’re constantly learning new things,” said Moon. “I’ve never stopped adapting to the sport and I cannot wait to get a chance to see the best that the country has to offer. It’s those types of interactions that I look forward to bringing back to our athletes at Seton Hall.”
As for Moon’s hopes for the future of Seton Hall, he sees no reason why the cross country program cannot keep rising.
“We feel that we have laid a foundation for the program,” said Moon. “Now, it’s really about continuing to get the best out of each of our runners. I am really looking forward to our incoming freshman class and I think our program has potential to create some noise in the Big East Conference. That’s our goal and I know our athletes strive for it every day.”