Jon Capron is in his 11th season as an assistant coach, after completing an outstanding four-year career at Baylor. Capron serves as the assistant head coach for cross country, handling the men’s team. In track, his primary duties include the distance runners and intermediate hurdlers. During the fall of 2012 in cross country, Capron guided the men’s squad to its highest finish at the Big 12 Championship (seventh) since 2004. In all the team totaled three top-five finishes during its six-meet schedule. Capron has also played an integral role in the recent success of Baylor’s cross country teams. The women’s teams made seven straight NCAA Championship appearances from 2003-09. The Bears have hosted the NCAA South Central Regional for eight of the last 10 seasons with the women finishing second in 2009, 2006, 2005 and 2003 and third in 2004, while the men finished seventh in 2006, 2004 and 2003 and fourth in 2010.
Jon was good enough to sit down with Winthrop’s managing editor, Ryan Matthews, to discuss optimizing student-athlete experience, in addition to the success he and Baylor University have had on the on the track.
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What has surprised you most about working as a coach?
The variety and the amazing people have been incredibly surprising to me. I have been blessed to be a part of so many aspects of our programs. There are amazing associations that come from working with a campus to provide great opportunities, experiences, and an environment for my student athletes that optimizes their abilities.
Whether it’s trying to secure land use for new cross country course locations, working to optimize our recruiting, put on a track/cross country meet, directing a summer camp, or coordinating team travel, all of these things keep me on my toes and put me in touch with great individuals both in and around our program.
What is the most critical characteristic or leadership quality required in your position?
A servant’s heart.
How has the need for information and data evolved during the tenure at both your current position and in the span of your career?
The need for information has increased dramatically; however, the availability of data has increased with it. That’s not to say that the availability of good information has increased, much of it is useless or of little value. The trick is to have the right data, and be able to interpret and make inferences, or better yet, make sense of it all.
Who are some other coaches or leaders today that inform your coaching style?
I have learned a great deal from the leadership and coaches here at Baylor (President Starr and Ian McCaw; Coaches Hart, Harbour, Brabham, Ford, and Smith), but I relish examples of leadership from any source. John Wooden, Earnest Shackleton, my father (Lt. Col Tim Capron) and many examples in scripture feed my desire to learn from other peoples’ experiences.
What are some success stories for your program and for yourself professionally?
I am very excited about the people that my athletes have become first and foremost. I believe that speaks volumes to our overall success rate. We have done some great things on the track as well, but those can be attributed as much to the athletes as they can to our program. Witnessing the transformation of high school student-athletes to top-tier individuals—and hopefully—elite athletes is a treasured experience. Last year I had two senior distance runners named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America teams on their way to med-school, a conference champion and school record holder in the 400 hurdles, Fulbright Scholar, excellent representation from our teams abroad (both for study and missions opportunities) as well as an excellent team GPA on all of our teams. It was a great year.