Erik Nedeau, or Ned as he goes by, came to the beautiful Pioneer Valley to pursue his Master's Degree in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall of 1994. He completed his degree in the spring of 1996 after coaching at Amherst College as part of his internship requirement. He remained at Amherst as the assistant for cross country and track for the following year before being named the head coach in 1997. Since beginning his coaching tenure at Amherst, Ned has produced Six NCAA Champions (17 titles between them), well over a Hundred All-American performances; Two Athletes of the Year, Two Scholar Athletes of the Year; an NCAA Top Eight Award Winner in Carter Hamill, an NCAA Woman of the Year Finalist in Shauneen Garrahan; Two Junior National medallists; a National Record in the Men's DMR; numerous Conference and New England Champions; a host of school records have been broken on numerous occasions, and the team performances at the championship meets has been excellent. After having coached both the Men's and Women's program for the past 16 years, Ned's focus has shifted to the Men's Program solely for the start of the 2011-12 season with a new coach being hired to take over the Women's Program. With each program being under the care and direction of their own respective coach, the success that both programs have seen should rise to even greater levels then ever before, and should be an exciting year for the team.
As an athlete, Ned was a Junior Olympic medallist in both the 400 Hurdles and Decathlon during high school, to go along with winning State Titles in Maine in the 300, 600 & Triple Jump Indoors and the 400 & Triple Jump Outdoors. At Northeastern University, he was a five time Division I All-American in the 800 & 1500, along with competing at the NCAA cross country championships. He won Twelve New England titles, Two IC4A Titles, and finished 7th in the 800 at the 1992 Olympic Trials running 1:46.19. Since graduating in 1994, he has continued to compete at an elite level and runs for Team New Balance. He was a bronze medallist in the 1500m at the 1995 World Indoor Championships, as well as placing 4th in the 1500 at the 1996 Olympic Trials, and most recently, just missing the finals fo the 1500 in the 2004 Olympic Trials. With his abilities and the experience that he has gained over the years, Ned offers a great deal to his athletes, and in turn the program.
Ned leading the 1500 field at the 2004 Olympic Trials - photo by RunMichigan.com
"Coaching at Amherst College has been an incredible experience for me because the kids on the team are so committed and dedicated to being the best that they can. Amherst is the top small liberal arts school in the country, the most difficult to get into. The students that are here are driven to succeed and are willing to do the work necessary to attain the goals that they have set for themselves. They are not afraid of working hard, and in fact they thrive on it and it has been instrumental in their success - both as individuals and as a team. We have had National Champions, national qualifiers and athletes who have run their best ever times yet did not make a qualifying standard, but the thing they have in common is the desire and work ethic to be the best that they can - a trait that will make them be the best that they can in all aspects life," notes Ned.
Unlike Division I schools and even some Division III programs, the student athletes who come to Amherst are coming for an education first, and to be an athlete second. The training regimen - regardless of event areas - keeps this in mind as the coaching staff understands that there is a great deal of time that is needed to enjoy and excel in all aspects of college life. We practice at 4:00 each day and practices will last usually until no later then 6:00 - you can budget 2 hours a day for practice but there will be days where it might be even less than that. We take a day off each week - for some it may be on Sunday, while for others it may be on Monday. During our unique intersession break in January, we will be doing double session practices in the morning and the afternoon, but there are no classes for those two weeks and we are on campus to train and get sharp for the beginning of the indoor season. Once classes start back up, then we are only practicing one time - in the afternoons. There are things that we could do as a coaching staff - longer practices, double sessions during the seasons, numerous film viewing - but in keeping with the student in the student athlete, we do the best with what we can without having our kids sacrifice their college experience. We have had a great deal of success at all levels and look to continue with that.
"It is hard to not love Amherst and the surrounding area, as it is truly phenomenal. There are endless miles of trails to run, ski, hike and bike; rivers and lakes to fish, kayak and swim in; you can sky-dive (which was an incredible adrenaline rush unlike anything I have ever experienced) - anything that a lover of the outdoors wishes for is accessible. When I first came to Amherst for grad school, I was blown away by how incredible it was out here. There is always something going on, and something to do and I feel quite fortunate to be able to be coaching at a place like Amherst and enjoy the benefits of all that the area has to offer."
"Amherst College is unique in that it is in a town surrounded by four other colleges (Umass-Amherst, Smith, Mt.Holyoke and Hampshire College) .While it provides a small college town feel, there is everything and anything that students want, and available to them in multitude. If it is pizza you want, then take your pick, coffee, book stores, restaurants etc... everything that you would want is at your fingertips."
Ned and his wife, the former Amy Lyman, were married in the summer of 2003 and they had a son, Lukas in December of 2005. They live, along with the world's greatest dog "Austin", in the neighboring town of Belchertown.