After 20 years at UM, coach heads to 2012 London Olympics

Amy Deem, UM director of Track and Field, is putting the “U” in “Team USA.”

This past spring, Deem was appointed as the head coach for the women’s track and field team representing the United States at the London Olympics in 2012.

“This is not only an honor, but a testament to 20 years of raising the bar both at the University of Miami and within the track and field industry,” said former Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt. “Amy Deem is an inspiration to the student-athletes at the U and will fulfill the same standards with the U.S. Olympic Team.”

Thrilled with her new assignment, Deem is still processing the news.

“I’m honored and excited, but it’s 18 months away,” she said. “I have to focus on the now, which is getting UM ready to compete.”

Her history here shows she’s done just that. Since 1992, Deem has guided 42 student-athletes to a combined 147 All-America honors and 12 individual national championships.

In 2007, Deem was the coach of the American team that competed in the World Championships in Osaka, Japan. That, and other experiences serving on a national staff put her into the pool of coaches eligible for the Olympics job. USA Track and Field, the national governing body of the sport, has a committee that nominates the coach they feel is most qualified. From there, the United States Olympic Committee approves the coach if they feel that he or she has appropriate experience.

Deem knew that her nomination was pending approval, but the announcement still took her by surprise.

“You never believe it until it happens,” she said.

During her athletic career, Deem participated in the 400 meter hurdles until she was sidelined by injury. She then became an assistant coach for a high school team in her native Athens, Ohio. Twenty years ago, she came to the University of Miami and has been here ever since.

Though her Olympic team won’t be picked until next year, Deem plans on staying on top of her potential athletes this summer. Her goal is to make them comfortable and put them in the best possible position for success.

Deem is excited about working with the rest of the coaching staff, having worked with them before. Though they know the overall goal is achieving a high medal count, Deem says that they all want to put the athletes first.

“If we just do our job upfront, everything else will take care of itself,” she said.

Currently, her job involves dealing with logistics, including conference calls and visiting the training camp in London. Things will begin to pick up with the U.S. National Championships in June.

Deem says she feels very fortunate that Miami has good athletes, several of who may very well make it onto the Olympic team. However, she could end up as the only Hurricane on the track in London. But she promises that UM’s presence will be felt.

Will she be throwing up the U in London?

“Of course!” she laughs. “I’ve been at Miami for 20 years, so I definitely will when it’s appropriate!”