Just like the fit of a good running shoe, LPC’s new cross-country and track and field head coach believes his student-athletes will be a good fit at Life Pacific.
“It’s all about how well they fit,” Jonathan Zimmerman says about his running shoes. He might as well be talking about Life Pacific’s new cross-country and track and field programs that he will lead as head coach. Of course, the same might be said about how he arrived at LPC in the first place.
For 25 years Jonathan taught high school at Christian schools in Chicago and California. After school he took off his tie to coach track and field as he led teams to five CIF Southern Section championships and six runners-up in cross-country and track.
His graduate degree in education, with concentrations in coaching and biomechanics from Northern Illinois University, opened the door for him to teach in the Department of Kinesiology as adjunct faculty at Biola University. He also was head coach of the men’s and women’s cross-country, and indoor and outdoor track and field teams at Biola from 2006-2014.
During that time, Biola’s track and field roster increased from 10 to 70 student-athletes as the program became competitive within the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Jonathan was named GSAC Coach of the Year eight times and the program amassed 188 All-Conference honors, 113 NAIA All-American honors, 47 individual conference championships, 12 individual national championships, five national track and field MVPs and one NAIA tournament most outstanding.
In 2014, Jonathan took time off from teaching and coaching to help his ailing father-in-law with the family property management business. For three years, Jonathan helped his wife serve her father as caregiver and helped manage the business before his father-in-law passed away. Now, four months later, God has led him to LPC where Jonathan is trying on another pair of running shoes, to see how well they fit.
“Maturity and greater service to God’s call come through these situations in life,” Jonathan says. “Every challenge helps us remember that our faith, hope, and trust are in the Lord.”
The Life Pacific Warriors have a long-held tradition of competitive cross-country as a club program. This year, LPC will transition to full athletic recognition with the GSAC and the NAIA allowing our men’s cross-country, women’s cross-country, men’s track, and women’s track teams to participate in more demanding competition with greater recognition for the college and our student-athletes.
Jonathan has been coaching now for some 35 years and has seen a lot of changes. “Students today are way smarter than I was at their age,” he says. “They are also better connected with peers and the world as a whole.” Along with that connection, Jonathan is concerned about greater anxiety that students display, often worrying more about their place in the world.
The good news is that he sees a high level of character and discipline in student-athletes today and believes the mission and values of LPC fit like a glove with the type of athletes he hopes to recruit. “We want them to prayerfully consider our college for their education and we are committed to carefully reaching out and communicating the values of LPC as we recruit,” Jonathan says.
For Jonathan, coaching is a great responsibility and a high calling. “I appreciate watching student athletes mature in their walk with Christ and I’m thankful for being a small part of their growth, career development, team synergy, and academic and athletic development,” he says.
He has witnessed firsthand the emotions of discouragement, failure, and slumps along with wins, joys, and personal records that student-athletes experience. Through them all, he is there with them to help them grow as men and women serving Christ.
“All athletes know that in order to get stronger and faster there is a stressful process of training and racing,” Jonathan says. “Over time, athletes improve and can handle even greater challenges and accomplish even better performance.” For Christian student-athletes, the process produces people who know who they are in Christ and who are able to persevere as they influence the world for God.
“It’s all about helping them find where they fit in the plan of God and in Christian service,” Jonathan says.
Jonathan knows that cross-country and track and field events don’t garner the most attention due to meets being hosted off-campus. Still, he believes his student-athletes at LPC will be supported and encouraged by their peers, faculty, and staff even though they compete away from the limelight of campus life.
“Our athletes are students first,” he says. “An encouraging word when you walk by them in the library can mean a lot to an athlete who is doing his or her best.” Student-athletes certainly work hard to win their individual and team events and to improve their school’s standing, but most of all these are young women and men whose lives count in the Kingdom of God.
“It’s all about helping them find where they fit in the plan of God and in Christian service,” Jonathan says. He is committed to doing everything possible to make sure they are in the right place, doing the right thing, just like the fit of a good running shoe.
Press Release: New Head Coach Announced for Cross Country & Track.