Head coach Fred LaPlante and Wolverine athletes discuss the 2013 season, which opens this weekend at the U-M Indoor Track Building.
A veteran of 35 years of college coaching experience, Fred LaPlante is in his fifth season (Fall 2008 to present) as head coach of the University of Michigan men's track and field team, after serving as the Wolverines' associate head coach the previous 11 seasons (beginning fall 1997).
During his career at Michigan, he has made a significant contribution to the program, and was named the 2008 NCAA Great Lakes Region Assistant Coach of the Year after the Wolverines captured the 2008 Outdoor Big Ten Championship. As the head coach, his team's best Big Ten finishes to date both came in 2009, when U-M placed second indoors and third outdoors.
As the sprint/hurdle coach, his Wolverines have won Big Ten Titles in the 60m, 100m, 200m, 60m HH, 110HH, 400IH, 4x1 and 4x4 relays. His student-athletes have also set new school records in the 60m, 100, 200m, 600m, 60m HH, and 4x4 relay. LaPlante has also guided 16 of his sprint/hurdle athletes at U-M to All-America honors, with Ali Arastu (400m IH) and the indoor 4x400m relay team of (Arastu, Michael Parker Jr., Aaron Taylor, Nick Neuman) being the most recent in 2012.
Three of LaPlante's Michigan graduates have competed in the Olympic Games, including Adam Harris (200m, Guyana, 2008), Stann Waithe (1,600m relay, Trinidad, 2008), and Jeff Porter (110m HH, USA, 2012).He also coached USA's Jerome Singleton, a U-M student, to the World Paralympic Championship 100-meter title in 2011, where he defeated Oscar Pistorius, the famed "blade runner" from South Africa.
LaPlante has also been instrumental in establishing the Michigan Men's Track and Field Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 2006, restoring the "renewal of Dual", with Ohio State in 2008, and restoring the U-M/Michigan State Dual Meet in 2013.
Prior to his arrival in Ann Arbor, LaPlante compiled an impressive resume. He began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant men's coach at Columbia University (1977-78), following one year stints as head boys coach at Taylor (Mich.) Hoover Jr. High (1975) and Garden City (Mich.) East High School (1977).
LaPlante's first head coach position came at San Diego State University, where he guided the women's cross country and track and field program from 1978-83. While at SDSU, LaPlante's teams were ranked in the top 10 nationally for five consecutive years and he led the Aztecs to their first WCAA track and field title in 1982. There, he coached 12 All-Americans in eight different events and his athletes broke national collegiate records in three different events (100m H - Deby Lansky; 3,000m - Monica Joyce, and distance medley relay). His 1981 cross country squad finished seventh at the NCAA Championships -- SDSU's best finish in program history.
LaPlante then moved onto USC, where he was the women's head coach for both cross country and track and field from 1983-88. LaPlante developed one of the nation's best women's track programs in the nation during his five years at USC, compiling three NCAA top-four finishes, winning the school's first conference title (1986), and recording a dominating 27-2 dual-meet record, including USC's first win over UCLA in 1986. He guided 50 Trojan student-athletes to All-America accolades. Two athletes, Wendy Brown and Yvette Bates, broke the NCAA record in the triple jump.
After 10 successful years as a women's head coach, LaPlante slid over to the men's side when he became the assistant coach for men's track and field at his alma mater, Eastern Michigan, a post he held from 1988-92. While at EMU, the Eagles won four consecutive MAC team titles and he coached All-Americans in the 200m, 400m, and 800m.
In 1992, LaPlante returned to the head coach role, as he took over Lehigh University's men's and women's track programs from 1992-97). LaPlante led the women's cross country team to their first Patriot League title in program history and he lifted the men to second-place finishes in the Patriot League in both cross country and track -- the highest finishes in team history to that point.
Over his 35 seasons, LaPlante has contributed to 18 athletes earning Olympic berths and has coached 25 national champions and 83 All-Americans. His head coaching success includes track and field teams that finished as high as second at the NCAA Indoor Championships, third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and seventh at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
A three-time NCAA District Head Coach of the Year, LaPlante has earned four USA national coaching assignments and has served as the meet director for several major cross country and track and field events, including the 1993 NCAA Cross Country Championship.
A Toledo, Ohio native and 1972 graduate of Eastern Michigan University, LaPlante was a 1972 NCAA College Division 1,500-meter All-American, helping Eastern Michigan to the 1972 NCAA College Division national title. He was a member of the EMU distance medley relay team that won the 1972 Drake Relays title. LaPlante was inducted into the (Toledo) Bowsher High School Hall of Fame. He resides in Ann Arbor with his wife, Nancy.
Michigan, Head Coach
Michigan, associate head coach
Lehigh, men's and women's head coach
Eastern Michigan, assistant coach
Southern California, women's head coach
San Diego State, head women's coach
Columbia University, assistant coach
Coaching Honors & Awards
Has coached 18 Olympians
Has coached 22 national individual champions, three relays