JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Carson-Newman athletic director Allen Morgan has announced the hiring of former Tennessee Volunteer and two-time Olympian Jose "Tony" Parrilla to coach the Eagles' cross country program.
"We believe we can take Carson-Newman to a point where it is considered the premiere Christian Division II athletic program in the Southeast," Morgan said. "The newest edition to the family of Eagles coach Tony Parrilla will help meet that end.
"I feel like he's been there and done that and now his passion is to give his knowledge and experience to develop young men and women who too can go out and win championships."
In 1994, Parrilla won his third straight NCAA title at 800, a feat that only 1936 Olympic champ John Woodruff had accomplished before. Two years earlier, as a Tennessee sophomore, he closed well in the 1992 Olympic Trials to grab 3rd and a ticket to Barcelona.
"Talking to (everyone), the direction that Carson-Newman wants to go, is the direction that I want to go as a coach," Parrilla said. "What is being built here, this is an unbelievable opportunity. This is exactly where I need to be – this is a calling."
Parrilla, who grew up in Panama, loved soccer first. But the move to the United States changed that. By the time of his senior year at South Dade High School, Parrilla had run 1:50.63 and had become a national prospect.
"The biggest challenge will be learning and working through some administrative challenges," Parrilla said. "I'm so bright-eyed about what the future holds that I really don't consider anything to be a negative right now."
He won four NCAA 800 titles, more than any other collegian. He was a 10-time All-American, and still holds Tennessee's school record of 1:43.97 in the 800, 20 years after he set it. Parrilla also competed for the U.S. team in the 1996 Olympics.
"About 20 years ago and 25 pounds ago, I had an ego," Parrilla said. "I don't have that ego now. It's not about me and now it's all about these athletes and their experiences. Everything I did is now a side note."
Parrilla earned a B.S. in human motor behavior from the University of Tennessee and holds certifications in myofascial integrative technique, active isolated stretching and is currently studying myoskeletal alignment techniques. He has worked as an exercise physiologist, fitness instructor and personal trainer.
"I'm an eternal teacher," Parrilla said. "I'm really thrilled to have that opportunity to teach here."