CA Coaching Legends: Steve Nelson

As we make our way through the 2018 outdoor season, we will continue to profile track and field coaches (and many that coach cross country as well) to our California coaching legend series. We have a lot of choices that cover the entire spectrum of events but as always, if you have coaches that you would like to nominate, please let us know on twitter @milesplitCA or you can email us at,, and

This week, our latest installment of California Coaching Legends will spotlight one of the best Track and Field coaches to hail from Northern California, former Mt. Pleasant coach, Steve Nelson. He started at Mt. Pleasant High school as a student teacher in 1986 and moved to San Jose City College following his final coaching Track and Field season at Mt. Pleasant in 2016. 

Nelson attended and graduated from Aragon HS in San Mateo in 1981 and was a three-sport athlete in Football, Basketball and Track and Field before turning his focus to just Football and Track and Field during his junior year. He went on to compete at College of San Mateo for Bob Rush and then transferred to San Jose State. His high school coach Bill Daskarolis started at Aragon HS in the early 1960s remained at the school for over 50 years before retiring in 2017. According to Coach Daskarolis...

He's a member of the Aragon record Varsity 4x4 relay team set in 1981 (3:21.50), along with holding the F-S 400m record at 50.9 in '79 and has been inducted into the Aragon Hall of Fame for both his contributions while at Aragon, along with his athletic endeavors and coaching T&F -  FB, and his superlative post Aragon high school coaching career...he demonstrated himself as a "team" member throughout his high school athletic experience and his positive attitude and leadership that influenced his team mates to succeed athletically while at Aragon...he has been an ongoing wonderful friend for many years...

Steve made his mark early at Mt. Pleasant as he coached Ed Lasquete to a California state championship in the pole vault in 1990. Lasquete went on to compete at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and represented the Philipines at the 1992 Summer Olympics where he set a national record that stood until 2014.

In 1992, both Mt. Pleasant boys and girls won their first section (CCS) team Track & Field titles as his teams had placers in sprints, distances, jumps, and throws. The Track and Field team continued to do quite well at the section level with lots of individual section champions in the discus, shot put, triple jump, pole vault, high jump, relays etc

The girls' team really hit their stride in the 2000s as they recorded section team titles in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011. The 2007 team also won the state meet team title that year led by two of the all-time great Track athletes in California history, sprinter Jenebah Tarmoh and hurdler/jumper Vashti Thomas. They become and still are only the third CCS team to win a state team title joining Andrew Hill in 1978 and Woodside in 1983. Tarmoh was a two-time state champion in both the 100 and 200. Thomas was a triple state champion in 2008 when she won the 100 hurdles, long jump and triple jump. At one point, she held the national record and state meet record in the hurdles at 13.03.

Steve had a lot of success with female track athletes as he guided them to improve their strength through Olympic lifting and plyometrics in the weight room. Fellow Aragon HS alum and now athletic director, Steve Sell had this to say about Steve Nelson...

Steve was so far ahead of anybody in terms of power lifting and speed development. He had girls doing Olympic lifts well before most track coaches even had their male sprinters, jumpers, and hurdlers doing Olympic lifts. In that sense, Steve really empowered several young women. He truly treated them on an equal level as the boys. His results speak for themselves with numerous CCS championships and a State championship. In addition, he was always willing to share any information that would improve the sport of track and field. 

During his final season as the Mt. Pleasant track and field coach, Nelson mentored one of the best high jumpers in state history, Darius Carbin. He was state champion in 2016 and finished the season with a best of 7'4.5". That mark tied him for the best jump in state history with Balboa jumper Maurice Crumby who accomplished the same feat in 1983.

Looking at the CCS record board, Mt. Pleasant female athletes still hold records in the following events: Jenebah Tarmoh 11.24 (100) & 23.13 (200), Vashti Thomas 13.03 (100m H) & 43'1.5 (TJ), 46.05 (400 relay), 63.32 (4 x 100m Hurdles Shuttle relay), 1:39.14 (4 x 200 relay). For the boys, 41.15 (400 relay) and Darius Carbin 7'4.5" (HJ).