by GREG SIERING
While many of us may be anticipating the approach of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the games mean much more to former Bloomingtonian Jeff Huntoon. For him, those 16 days are the culmination of years of coaching some of Canada’s best track and field athletes.
Huntoon, 53, was an associate head coach with the Indiana University track and field program from 2007–14. His most notable success at IU was coaching high jumper Derek Drouin through a remarkable career—five NCAA championships, plus bronze medals at both the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2013 World Championships. However, during a major shake-up in the IU coaching staff, Huntoon left the university to pursue other opportunities.
His strong coaching relationship with Drouin—a native of Corunna, Ontario—placed Huntoon on the radar of the Canadian national team’s coaching staff, and soon after he left IU he was recruited by Athletics Canada. “One door opened for me before the other one even closed,” Huntoon says. He adds that the timing was good for him professionally, and that his wife, Ann, was supportive of his goals. “I give her all the credit in the world for letting me have this opportunity.”
That opportunity has paid off for both Huntoon and the athletes he coaches. In his time with Athletics Canada, Huntoon has coached nine global championship teams and has had 52 athletes in the finals of international competitions—including the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, and the Olympics—where they have earned 35 medals, including Drouin’s gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics. “I’ve been really fortunate in my career to have six athletes at the Olympic level,” Huntoon says. “They are a different breed.”
His Canadian success hasn’t come without a cost, however. Huntoon lives in Toronto, away from his wife, a lecturer in the IU School of Public Health, and their two children—Jordan, an IU grad and former track athlete, and Jennifer, a senior at IU. The couple make frequent visits, and while Huntoon loves the cosmopolitan character of Toronto, he says he really enjoys coming home to Bloomington. When he’s here, he says, he works around the house, enjoys sunsets on the deck with Ann, and spends time planning ways to get back to Bloomington when his coaching days in Canada come to an end.