St. John’s Longest-Serving Coaches Reflect on Decades of Success
With nearly 60 years of combined experience at the University, Dave Masur ’03Ed.D., Head Coach of men’s soccer, and Jim Hurt, Head Coach of women’s indoor and outdoor cross-country and track and field, have two of the most extensive records of achievement in the history of SJU athletics.
“My work as a coach embodies many of the things the University stands for,” said Masur. “Our players come to St. John’s to be highly successful in their sport, but they also come here to learn a value system and build character.”
During Masur’s 25-year tenure, St. John’s has won a national championship (1996), made four appearances in the NCAA College Cup (1996, 2001, 2003, and 2008), and reached 20 NCAA Tournaments, including 15 straight from 1992–2006. The Red Storm was the only soccer program in the nation to reach 10 consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 appearances from 1996–2005. They also won a conference record of nine BIG EAST Tournament titles and six BIG EAST regular season crowns in addition to earning 22 BIG EAST Tournament appearances.
Masur, who played professional soccer for over a decade, has special memories both of winning at St. John’s and seeing his thletes succeed off the field. “I’m always gratified when my players excel after graduation,” he noted, “because I’m trying to teach a transferable skill set.” Masur requires his athletes to keep journals and speaks to them after each practice about the challenges of their everyday lives.
Since the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) began awarding Academic All-America and Academic All-District honors, Red Storm soccer players have racked up 10 All-America and 19 All-District selections. Two players earned Academic All-America honors three times each; one earned the plaudit twice. The squad has earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Award 11 times. Some of Masur’s former players have become doctors, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the public and private sectors.
For Hurt, coaching is more like a “calling” than a job. “That’s because St. John’s is very much like a family to me,” said Hurt, who captained the cross country and track and field teams as an undergraduate at Notre Dame. “What we do as coaches directly relates to the University’s Mission—it’s ultimately about taking care of people.”
Hurt is in his 28th year as Head Coach and his 34th season overall. Until 2003, he coached both men’s and women’s teams; for the past 13 years, he has coached women only. Under his leadership, SJU student-athletes have competed in every major track and field competition in the world, including the Olympic Games in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2012. They have also competed in the World Championships in Canada, Ireland, Japan, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. His squads have appeared in NCAA Championships for 24 consecutive years and in 16 USA National Championships, also winning 24 Metropolitan Conference titles.
“When you have a program that consistently sends athletes to every major competition on the planet, then you know you’re part of something special,” said Hurt. Three of Hurt’s athletes who are alumni will compete in this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Like Masur, Hurt stresses the quality of a St. John’s degree to his athletes. In 2014, members of the Red Storm cross-country team were recognized by the NCAA for their exceptional work in the classroom as part of the NCAA’s Academic Performance Program. Hurt’s group posted a perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 1,000. “Our student-athletes have maintained a 98.5 percent graduation rate since 1982,” Hurt said.
Throughout their careers, the two coaches have seen firsthand how the Vincentian Mission has affected their teams. “Our kids in the athletic department complete many hours of service, and they do a fantastic job,” said Masur. “Exposure to service allows them to see the world beyond themselves and their sport. At St. John’s, student-athletes become citizens and professionals who have a lifelong concern for those in need.”