Cross-Green’s own Jonina Brinson recently completed her first year head coaching a college program of her own. Heading into next year, she says the future for the Buena Vista University is bright—and she has a new certification in her back pocket to help her better lead the Beavers.
The 26-year-old daughter of Archie and Joanne Brinson, she became a decorated track and field student-athlete, running for the University of Mobile as well as Bethune Cookman University. In September 2020, she moved to Iowa to work as an assistant coach training sprints and jumps for BVU.
In December, she was named interim head coach. The “interim” tag was taken off on April 1.
Immediately, Brinson set out to accomplish a few simple but important goals. Atop the list were building trust within the team, enabling the team to see its potential, progress their jumps, and place in the top three of their conference.
“We really trusted the process,” Brinson said. “A lot was changing for the athletes, and they went through a lot as well. For them to trust me to coach them after just meeting me two months ago was big. As a team, we fought hard and achieved a lot in one year. I mean, in one year, everyone had personal records being broken multiple times, five school records were broken, we had two conference champs, and two additional top three finishes at conference. The women side scored over 60 points, which hasn’t been done in 20 years. We also had one outdoor national qualifier, three USTFCCA All Academic student-athletes, and both genders won the USTFCCA All Academic Team Award. I’d say we did an amazing job as a team.”
The Beavers concluded their outdoor conference back in May. It was there the Beavers’ lone outdoor qualifier competed well enough to advance to outdoor nationals, which would be held later that month in Greensboro, North Carolina. Additionally, the team had one female thrower finish ninth, just missing a top eight All-America status.
Brinson’s program is positioned to return everyone from this year; the two seniors are returning to pursue their master’s and can therefore compete as graduate students. That roster will be made even stronger with a “nice-size 2021 class.”
BVU’s reputation as a solid school, Brinson’s experience as a competitor and coach, and the track and field program’s success this year are to credit for incoming athletes’ interest in becoming a Beaver—but those same athletes can rest assured their coach is doing her part to keep up with the times. On July 26, she received a certificate from USA Track and Field certifying her as a Level 2 coach.
Brinson explained, “There is a Female Emerging Coaching Grant you have to apply and send a letter for. I applied and submitted my application, and I was thrilled to chosen. Since I already had my USATF Level 1 Certification and I specialize in jumps, I chose to do the Level 2 jump-specific courses. It is a week-long course engaging with multiple coaches on understanding horizontal and vertical jobs with a test at the end for certification of completion. The course was held July 19-24, and it helped me understand the jumps more in-depth and engage with other jump coaches on certain methods and techniques. The certification means a lot because I have gained more knowledge to pour into my athletes and help them continue their passion knowing that their coach isn’t steering them wrong.”