John Moon, one of the most respected and successful track coaches in the nation, orchestrated the rise of Seton Hall track from a perennial Eastern power to a nationally prominent program. The 2012-13 season marks his 41st at the University and his third serving exclusively as cross country head coach.
On April 2, 2006, Moon was inducted to the Hall of Fame of the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association. Every year the NJSCA bestows the distinguished award on an outstanding New Jerseyan in the world of athletics.
On December 3, 2002, Moon received the “Legendary Coaches Award” from the Newark YMWCA at the organization’s Sports Legends IX Gala. Also in 2002, Moon was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track Coaches Association after the Seton Hall women’s team captured both the ECAC Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
In addition to all of the success with the Pirates, Moon reached perhaps the ultimate highlight of his career during the 2000 Summer Olympics where he served as the first assistant coach for the United States Men's Track Team in Sydney, Australia. Moon was appointed to the position on December 3, 1997, a sign of the respect he has earned throughout the nation.
The appointment was Moon’s fifth international coaching assignment. In 1995 he served as the head coach for the United States team at the Pan American games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Moon’s squad brought home 36 medals, including a bronze by former Pirate star Flirtisha Harris.
On July 2, 2001, Moon served as the head coach for the United States at the prestigious U.S. vs. Great Britain dual meet in Glasgow, Scotland, featuring some of the top men's and women's athletes in the world.
The strong tradition of Seton Hall track excellence that Moon has developed is accented by the individual achievements of both current and former Pirate athletes. His slate includes 71 All-Americans and seven NCAA Champions. Moon has tutored 19 Olympic athletes during his career, including four runners that competed in the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, one in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and one in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Seton Hall has had tremendous success over the years on the regional and national levels. Most recently, Nolle Graham was named the 2002 Female Indoor Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track Coaches Association. A five-time All-American, Graham won two-straight ECAC outdoor long jump titles, setting a new meet record in 2002. Graham took home All-America honors by finishing fifth in the long jump at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships, where Mike Roberts also earned All-America honors in the triple jump, finishing eighth. Graham took home All-America honors at the 2000 NCAA Outdoor Championships, placing second in the long jump. Ned Brooks also earned All-America honors for the second straight year in the 800 meters, finishing seventh.
During the 1998-99 season, Brooks earned All-America honors in both in the indoor and outdoor 800 meters. Marissa Defreese also was an All-American, finishing sixth in the 800 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The 1996-97 season was highlighted by both the men’s and women’s 1600-meter relay teams continuing their strong tradition by earning All-America status at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Both Pirate relay teams also won at the prestigious Mobil Invitational while the women’s 1600 team captured the Millrose Games title.
In 1994-95, the men’s team placed second at both the IC4A and BIG EAST Championships, while standout quarter-miler Kevin Lyles earned All-America honors with top-four finishes at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Five members of the women’s team earned All-American status.
The 1993-94 season was a historic one for Coach Moon and the Seton Hall women’s team as it reached new heights of national recognition. The Pirates finished third at the 1994 NCAA Indoor Track Championships, the highest in school history, while four athletes were crowned NCAA champions for the first time. Flirtisha Harris became the first NCAA Champion for the Seton Hall women’s athletics program when she won the 400 meter title, and then was a member of the NCAA Champion 1600 meter relay team along with Shermaine Ross, Keisha Caine and Julia Sandiford. The women’s team duplicated those national championship feats later on in the year when Harris and the 1600 team again won the NCAA titles at the Outdoor Championships
That performance, along with team titles at the BIG EAST and ECAC Indoor Championship, earned Moon the honor of NCAA Women’s Track Coach of the Year for the Indoor Season as selected by the United States Track Coaches Association of America. It marked the first time in his stellar career that he earned national Coach of the Year honors, but Moon’s accomplishments have been recognized regionally quite often. He was named the 1994 District 2 Men’s Outdoor Track Coach of the Year, marking the seventh time he earned district honors. He has also been named the Coach of the Year in the BIG EAST seven times, the Metropolitan Coach of the Year 11 times, and the Collegiate Track Conference Coach of the Year six times..
Also highlighting the 1993-94 season was the performance of the women’s 1600 meter relay team which won the Championship of America at the Penn Relays, another first for the Seton Hall women’s track program. The men’s distance medley team broke the 23-year old American record during the indoor season with an effort of 9:38.46.
The 1992-93 campaign was one of Moon’s most prosperous as he was named the District 2 Coach of the Year after leading the men to the BIG EAST Indoor Championship and the women to their first-ever BIG EAST Outdoor Championship. Moon and his assistants were recognized as the Coaching Staff of the Year for the men at the BIG EAST Indoor Championships as well as for the women at the BIG EAST Outdoor meet. That year, Moon produced nine All-Americans and led the women to a then best-ever sixth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
His contributions to Seton Hall have been recognized with two of the University’s highest honors. On September 18, 1997, Moon was inducted in the Seton Hall Athletic Hall of Fame along with Andrew Valmon, one of his top athletes. On March 28, 1996, Moon was awarded the McQuaid Medal for Distinguished Service at Charter Day ceremonies. The medal is given annually to members of the University community who have served beyond measure with selfless dedication and high distinction.
In 1985, Moon was honored with the prestigious Jesse Abramson Award for his dedication to track and field.
Moon was a standout in both track and football at Linden High School. He was an All-State and All-American performer in high school, running the 100 in 9.7 and the 220 in 21.0.
After excelling on the prep level, Moon moved on to Tennessee State where he earned All-American honors. Before graduating in 1961, he was one of the top sprinters in the school’s history. His time of 9.3 in the 100 yard dash in 1960 tied the world record. While at Tennessee State, the lightning-quick Moon won the NAIA and placed third in the NCAA Championships. In fact, he is the last man to beat Olympic legend Bob Hayes in a race, accomplishing the feat in 1964. At the National AAU Championships at Rutgers Stadium in 1963, Moon finished second. He also ran a time of 20.3 in the 220 and 46.2 in the quarter mile. He was elected to Tennessee State’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.
Moon’s coaching career began at Kilmer Job Center in Piscataway, NJ. He then moved on to Rahway High School, a school with a dormant track program. At the Union County school, he compiled a dual meet mark of 99-11 over a six year period, claiming 33 championships in the process. More importantly, every senior that Moon coached at Rahway went on to college.
Moon became Seton Hall’s head coach in 1972 and was an instant success, garnering newspaper headlines such as “Moon Gleams” (Elizabeth Daily Journal) and “Moon Shooting High” (New York Times). Replacing the legendary Johnny Gibson as the Pirates’ mentor was no easy task, but Moon made the transition prosperous for Seton Hall. In his first season, Moon coached the mile relay team to first place at the NCAA Indoor Championships and has not looked back since.
Moon has coached with numerous United States national track teams, including the 1995 Pan American squad, and has competed in over 50 countries. In addition, he served as an assistant coach at the 1991 Goodwill Games and was head coach of the East team in the national Olympic Festival in 1983. In 1975, he coached the United States Junior National team that toured Poland, Germany and Russia. That summer of ’75 saw the Moon coached 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams break world records.
Some of the outstanding athletes who have competed at Seton Hall during Moon’s tenure include four 1988 Summer Olympic participants: Gold medalist in the 1600-meter relay and BIG EAST record holder Andrew Valmon, 1987 NCAA 800 meter champion Tracy Baskin, three-time All-American and twice BIG EAST most outstanding performer Angela Williams, and Michael Paul, who ranked second in the world in the 400 meters while at Seton Hall. Valmon was also a member of the United States’ 4 x 400 relay team which won the gold medal and set the world record at the 1993 World Championships at Stutggart, Germany. Other outstanding athletes coached by Moon were former Olympians Ben Fields and Moses Ugbisie, and Derrick Peynado, who won an unprecedented four gold medals at the 1982 IC4A meet.
The most recent Seton Hall athlete to compete in the Olympics is 1993 graduate Shana Williams. Williams, who won the national indoor long jump title in 1996, competed in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta in the long jump and was an alternate at the 2000 Summer Games.
Moon’s involvement with the sport is extensive as he is a former President of the IC4A. He is also the past president of both the BIG EAST Track Coaches and the Metropolitan Track Conference, while he has served as the New Jersey delegate to USA Track 15 times.
Moon, who resides in Somerset, N.J., with his wife, Thelma, holds a master’s degree from Seton Hall in administrative supervision. He is also a commander in the United States Naval Reserve.