Few coaches in any sport achieve the ultimate accolade that befell UC Davis women’s track and field coach Deanne Vochatzer in 1996. Long one of the outstanding leaders in track and field in the United States, Vochatzer’s years of hard work culminated in her being named the head coach of the 1996 U.S. Team at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
And the person least impressed with the honor was the same person who received it.
Then last fall, the track and field community honored Vochatzer again, this time in the form of her induction to the U.S. Track Coaches Assocation Hall of Fame.
Since the ’96 Games, UC Davis has been the beneficiary of her talent, wisdom and enthusiasm. In addition to numerous All-Americans and all-conference performers who have achieved success her guidance, three Aggie track standouts – middle distance runner Jamila Demby, hurdler Kameelah Elarms and sprinter Tanisha Silas – were have been named as finalists for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year award. Demby won that award in 1999 while Silas captured the honor in 2002. Elarms advanced to the top 10 in 2001. (See page 34 for thumbnail profiles of each honoree.)
Last season, the Aggies won their fourth straight California Collegiate Athletic Association championship – the program’s 10th straight league title including those won in the now-defunct Northern California Athletic Conference. Vochatzer was selected as CCAA Coach of the Year for the fourth time. She also earned USTCA West Region Indoor Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season. Vochatzer had been named West Region Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2001.
In 1999, Vochatzer won Region Coach of the Year honors in both indoor and outdoor, and culminated the feat by garnering NCAA Division II National Women’s Coach of the Year honors, having guided UC Davis to a seventh-place finish indoors and a sixth-place showing outdoors.
Vochatzer’s career resume includes successful forays into coaching, administration and owning her own business.
She graduated in 1971 from Chico State with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. She then served her alma mater from 1972-75 as women’s track and cross country coach, where her teams in each sport won the conference championship each season.
In 1976, Vochatzer moved to Florida. She was owner/manager of One-Der-Wear, Inc., her own apparel company, and was women’s head cross country and track coach at the University of Florida from 1977-79. She completed work on her master’s degree while in Gainesville.
The West Coast beckoned anew for her in 1980 as she took the reins of athletic director at Presentation High School in San Jose, Calif., a position she held through 1987. She also coached track and cross country at Presentation.
Her first UC Davis experience came from 1987-89, where she taught and was women’s coach in 1988 and assistant to both the men’s and women’s programs in 1989-90. Vochatzer then moved to Cal Poly as head women’s coach for both track and cross country from 1989-90, before her return to the Davis campus in 1990-91 as head women’s track coach. While at Cal Poly, Vochatzer’s squads were NCAA cross country champions in 1990 and 1991 and track champions in 1991.
Her national and international coaching experience goes back to 1979, when she was an aide to that year’s Sports Festival team, a role she would reprise in 1981. From 1982-87, Vochatzer was assistant coordinator for women athletes with the U.S. Olympic Festival. She served as coordinator from 1987 to 1994.
In 1992, Vochatzer was alternate head Olympic coach for women and was head coach for two World University Games prior to receiving the prestigious honor of leading the U.S. women track and field athletes into the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta.
Vochatzer is regularly in demand as both a clinician and speaker on her sport and has also had media exposure as an expert commentator for ESPN. She is a consultant for Nike, the National High School Coaches Assoication and the U.S. Justice Department on Alcohol & Drug Education for Athletics.
Deanne was one of the lead presenters in Sacramento’s successful bid to host the 2000 Olympic Trials, for which she served as Director of Competition. She earned USATF’s prestigious Joe Robichaux Award in 2001 for her contributions as an organizer