10-time Olympic Medalist to coach sprints and jumps
After serving 22 seasons as the head coach at the University of Houston, Tom Tellez serves as a volunteer coach for the UH program. A member of the U.S. Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Tellez has produced some of the greatest track and field performers in the history of the sport.
His former Cougars included: four-time NCAA champion and nine-time Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis, former NCAA and Olympic 200-meter Gold Medalist Joe DeLoach, two-time NCAA champion and Olympic Silver medalist Kirk Baptiste and three-time NCAA champion, Olympic Bronze Medalist Frank Rutherford and Olympic Gold Medal winner and three-time NCAA champion and former world 100-meter record holder Leroy Burrell.
He also coached three-time NCAA heptathlon Jolanda Jones, three-time NCAA long jump champion and USA Olympic team member Carol Lewis, USA Olympic sprinter Jackie Washington and NCAA 200-meter champion Michelle Collins.
In addition, he tutored NCAA 100-meter champions Sam Jefferson and Stanley Floyd; NCAA discus champion Rick Meyer, NCAA 60-yard champion Greg Edmonds, NCAA indoor shot put champion Mark Baughman, NCAA 400-yard champion Anthony Ketchum, NCAA high jump champion Brian Stanton, NCAA 55-meter hurdles champion Darius Pemberton and NCAA heptathlon and pentathlon champion Patsy Walker.
Currently, Tellez is coaching one of the USA's rising stars in two-time NCAA long jump champion Jenny Adams. In addition to his UH proteges, Tellez has tutored Olympic Gold Medal winners Mike Marsh, Michele Finn-Burrell and 2000 Olympic 200-meter sprinter Floyd Heard.
Besides his outstanding athletes, Tellez also had some successful teams at Houston. In 1997 and 1998, he was named the Conference USA men's indoor and outdoor track Coach-of-the-Year after leading the Cougars to four titles in their first two years in the league. He also was named the 1998 C-USA women's indoor and outdoor Coach-of-the-Year after leading the Lady Cougars to both titles.
He also led Houston's men's team to a fourth-place finish at the 1996 NCAA Indoor Championships and that marked the ninth time that Tellez led the Cougars to a Top 10 showing at the NCAA Indoor meet. In addition, he guided UH to six Top 15 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
He also led the Cougars to the 1977 and 1978 Southwest Conference indoor championships.
In addition to his success as UH's men's coach, Tellez also began the Lady Cougar program and led them to three Top 10 finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships and eight Top 20 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor meet. Houston also won the 1983, 1984 and 1987 SWC indoor titles and the 1984 and 1990 SWC outdoor championships under his direction.
Tellez began Houston's coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Whittier College, in California. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he was named the head coach at Buena Park High School in California.
In 1961, he became the head coach at Fullerton Junior College before becoming an assistant coach at UCLA in 1968.
While at UCLA, he coached the likes of Dwight Stones, Mike Tully, Willie Banks and James Butts. In 1976, he was offered the chance to become the strength and conditioning coach for the Dallas Cowboys under Tom Landry. Instead, he opted to come to Houston and replace retiring track coach Johnny Morriss. In addition to his success at Houston, Tellez enjoyed tremendous success on the international circuit as well. Between 1984 and 1996, six of the seven United States sprinters who won Olympic Gold Medals were coached by Tellez and seven of the USA's overall 13 medals were claimed by his athletes.
He was named the head coach for the 1991 U.S. national team that competed in the World Championships at Tokyo, Japan and was the head coach for the 1987 USA Pan American team.
He also served as an assistant coach for the 1980 and 1984 USA Olympic teams. He coached the throwing events in 1980 and the jumping events in 1984.
A former standout collegiate athlete in his own right, Tellez was a halfback and defensive back at Whittier College. He also was a sprinter for the school's track and field team while earning a B.S. degree in physical education in 1955. He earned a master's degree at Chapman College in 1962.
He and his wife, Kay, were married more than forty years before she passed away last fall. He has three children: Kip, Tina and Kyle, a current UH assistant coach.