Now in his fourth year coaching at Tulane is Illinois native Mike Willard. After coordinating the throwing events for his first two years, Willard added the coaching of field events for the Green Wave last season.
In each of the last three years, Willard has accompanied Green Wave standouts to the NCAA Championships. Last spring, he helped Jelena Jurlina qualify for the NCAA National Championships in both the javelin and the discus. She narrowly missed All-America honors, finishing ninth in the discus. In 2003, Jurlina also advanced to the NCAA Regionals in the discus and the javelin, advancing to the Nationals in the javelin, finishing in 10th place. In his first year with the program, Willard helped develop the skills of Jurlina and Helmi Leppanen, who both set school records. Jurlina set the Tulane standard in the discus, while Leppanen, who was injured much of last season, set school records in the javelin and the heptathlon. Leppanen added the school shot put record last season.
In his first season directing the Green Wave field events, Willard assisted two long jumpers, Lissie Mo and Marilyn Sauls, who qualified for the NCAA Regionals for the first times in their careers. Mo also captured the Conference USA indoor long jump championship.
Willard is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the NSCA. He has also achieved a Level 2-coaching certification in jumps from the USATF.
A native of Dewey, Ill., Willard is a 2000 graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. While at Illinois, Willard was a member of the track and field team from 1995-2000. He participated in the hammer throw, shot put and discus.