Yuriy Litvinski is the new head track coach for Missouri Western bringing with him a slew of track accolades as athlete and coach to go along with his incredible back story. Coach Litvinski is originally from Bulgaria and came to America to pursue a college degree. Northern Iowa offered him a track scholarship and away he went. Litvinski did not speak a lick of English and walked around campus with a dictionary to help him learn the language. Litvinski’s skills as a track-star were evident as he was a three-time NCAA Division I qualifier in the triple jump.
After college, Litvinski got into coaching track and has an impressive list of accomplishments, including winning Assistant Coach of the Year twice at Angelo State. He also was an assistant at Western State University, Central Missouri, and most recently, Division I program Idaho State. This is Litvinski’s first head coaching job, which has always been the plan.
“One of my long-term goals, career wise, has always been to be a head coach,” Litvinski said.
Athletic Director Josh Looney is excited to have Litvinski on board. Looney believes all the experience Litvinski has will help build this young program going into its second year.
“The most attractive piece about Yuri was the three Division II programs he’s been at,” Looney said. “For our young program, I felt it was important to hire someone who had been at various places and done it at a high level where you want to model your program after.”
Changing head coaches one year after the program started normally is not the ideal situation, but with the rest of the staff returning from last year, Looney does not believe it will be much of an issue.
“[Assistant coach Ingold] has taken on a larger role with the cross-county program which has allowed Yuri to really focus on building his culture for the whole track team and having that consistency where it wasn’t a whole new staff,” Looney said.
Junior Brandon Colner thinks there will be an adjustment period, but has a lot of faith in his new head coach.
“It’s definitely a different situation. Two totally different personalities,” Colner said. “It’s definitely been a transition that we are trying to get used to. I think he’s a really good coach, and I think coach Yuri is going to be here for a while.”
Sophomore Megan Gillen thinks his accomplishments make it easier to trust what he’s saying to the athletes.
“It’s more organized,” Gillen said. “He knows what he’s talking about. He’s a go-getter.”
Litvinski has all the accolades, has the inspiring back story and has the passion for track. Hopefully, he will be able to put it all together and build up a respectable program. Athletic Director Looney thinks it’s a winning combination.
“Running a track program is going to be the least of things he’s had to overcome, so we like that work ethic, and he’s got a passion for track.”