Now in his 10th season on West End, Donnie Young has served as an assistant coach with the Vanderbilt track and field program since joining the staff in September of 2011. Young coaches sprints, hurdles and relays.
Young’s impact has been felt throughout his tenure, as he has guided the Commodores to a string of record-breaking performances. Young has overseen nine individual school records and 16 relay school records. Prior to Young, all of the original records were nearly 20 years old.
Since his arrival, the outdoor distance medley relay school record has been broken three times, while each of the top six indoor DMR times have come under his tutelage.
Vanderbilt’s all-time top 10 lists are littered with Young’s athletes. During the 2020 indoor season, four more individuals in four events, and both Vanderbilt relay teams joined the school’s record books.
Young mentored Courtney Clayton to one of the finest careers ever enjoyed by a Vanderbilt track athlete. In 2017 alone, Clayton earned recognition as a First-Team All-American (outdoor), Second-Team All-American (indoor) and All-SEC second team (outdoor) honoree, and she broke her own school records in the indoor and outdoor 800-meters. Clayton’s outdoor 800-meter time of 2:04.24 en route to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships broke a 19-year-old program record by more than three seconds and Clayton credited Young’s coaching and strategy as a major reason for her being able to accomplish the feat.
Young’s leadership also played a key role in the success of sprinter Jennifer Edobi, who ranks second all-time in Vanderbilt history in the indoor and outdoor 400 meters, behind only former All-American Ryan Tolbert (51.14). Edobi was also selected to run for the Nigerian National Team at the 2017 IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, and Young was selected to be an assistant coach for the Nigerian coaching staff. Edobi’s 4×400 relay team, under Young’s direction, won its preliminary heat and qualified for the finals, where the Nigerian relay team finished seventh. It was the second time Edobi competed for the Nigerian National team, as she also ran at the 2016 Nigerian Olympic Trials in Sapele, Nigeria, and finished 11th in the 400 meters.
Young also played a part in Jennifer Cannon’s record-filled career. In 2013, as a freshman, Cannon tied the school record in the 100 meter hurdles, and a year later she notched the No. 2 spot on the school’s all-time performer’s list in the 60-meter hurdles. In all, Cannon ranks among the school’s top 10 in eight different events.
Young came to Vanderbilt after helping the Bowling Green track team to their best season in nearly a decade. In his year at BGSU, the Falcons earned their highest finish at the MAC Indoor Championship meet since 2007 and tied for their best point total since 1999. Along the way, Young’s athletes had a record-breaking year. During the indoor season, twenty-two athletes either ran or jumped personal records, while Jeanette Pettigrew broke the 60-meter school record three times, highlighted by a second-place finish at the MAC Championships with a time of 7.40.
Prior to Bowling Green, Young coached at Archbold High School in Ohio. He helped the track program to a conference championship in 2010, and also coached his brother, Danny, to a state championship in the 4×200 relay—the first relay state title in school history—and a fourth-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles.
Before arriving at Archbold, Young served on the staff at his alma mater, Eastern Michigan University, from 2007-09, first as the team’s administrative assistant then as a graduate assistant. During his time, the Eagles won the 2008 MAC Championship, which was the program’s 12th league title in 13 years and set a conference record for margin of victory.
Young was a four-year letter winner at Eastern Michigan and a three-time co-captain. He ran on MAC Championship 4×400 relay teams from 2003-07 and qualified for the NCAA Regional in the event in 2007. Young won four MAC Championships during his time as an athlete in Ypsilanti.
Young and his wife, Ann Hollis, reside in Nashville with their daughter, Elizabeth.