Now in her sixth season at the helm of the track and field and cross country programs, Caryl Smith Gilbert has quickly made UCF synonymous with championship quality. The Knights head into the 2013 season with four Conference USA track and field titles to their credit and are ready to contend once again with the nation's best.
In 2012, the team earned its best finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in eighth place. UCF won its fourth C-USA title, produced six All-Americans with 13 distinctions throughout the year and capped the season by sending four Knights to compete at the USA Olympic Trials. Among those competitors, Aurieyall Scott was one of two collegiate athletes who advanced to the finals of the 200 meters and finished with a school-record performance in the primetime nationally televised race.
Smith Gilbert was recognized as the C-USA Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the year for the third-straight season and was also honored by the USTFCCCA as the South Region Coach of the Year.
In addition to her head coaching duties, Smith Gilbert also trained U.S. Olympian DeeDee Trotter to her third appearance in the Summer Games and her first individual Olympic medal. Trotter ran a season-best time in the finals for third place, narrowly missing silver by two-hundredths of a second.
In 2011, UCF swept the indoor and outdoor track and field championship titles one year removed from winning its first ever C-USA Championship in outdoor track. The Knights boasted five First Team All Americans, including C-USA Track Athlete of the Year and UCF's first two-time All-America first team honoree Jackie Coward. Between the 2011 indoor and outdoor seasons, 16 school records and seven freshman records were broken on numerous occasions under Smith Gilbert's guidance. She was recognized as C-USA's outdoor and indoor Coach of the Year.
The Knights sent a nation-leading 15 entries into the sprints and hurdles events at the NCAA East Preliminary Round. Smith Gilbert also witnessed results in the classroom as five student-athletes were named to the 2011 Division I All-Academic Track and Field team, more than any other school in Conference USA.
In the spring of 2010, Smith Gilbert helped lead her team to a dramatic come-from behind finish to claim the C-USA Championship in outdoor track. The Knights took the lead with three events remaining and held off a late-surge by UTEP to claim the conference title. In a championship that had 21 total events, UCF athletes had 32 separate season-best and 22 personal-best performances in the four-day meet.
One of Smith Gilbert's runners during the 2010 season would go on to become the first NCAA Outdoor All-American. Coward finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles in the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.
The track and field program has risen at an intense rate. In 2009, in just her second season, UCF finished in second place at the C-USA Outdoor Championships and third at the C-USA Indoor Championships. Under her tutelage, UCF sent a record five athletes to the NCAA Outdoor National Championships in 2009 and finished 35th at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Knights also won the title and set a school record in the shuttle hurdles at the prestigious Penn Relays. The performance also gained the program the ACCUSPLIT/Nike Relay Award at the end of the season. Individually, three Knights gained NCAA Indoor All-American distinctions in 2009 and four won C-USA individual event titles - two indoor and two outdoor.
In 2008, her first season in charge, it was obvious that Smith Gilbert had the program heading in the right direction. The program finished third at the C-USA Outdoor Championships, broke 23 previous school records, had two C-USA event champions and one NCAA Indoor All-American.
In her first two seasons at the helm of the program, her athletes broke 30 of the school's indoor and outdoor school records.
In August of 2009, Smith Gilbert served as the jumps and multi events coach of Team USA at the 2009 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Berlin, Germany. She has also overseen the building of the UCF Cross Country Complex, giving the program an on-campus course to recruit to, host home meets and train on both in and out of season.
She took the helm of the UCF programs in the summer of 2007, and she brought with her extensive experience at the highest level of collegiate competition and a proven ability to transform her student-athletes into champions.
Smith Gilbert came to UCF after five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee, where she was responsible for coaching sprints, hurdles and jumps. During her tenure with the Lady Vols, her athletes won three NCAA titles and seven Southeastern Conference championships and earned 53 NCAA Division I All-America honors. They also established 19 school records.
In 2005, Smith Gilbert was named U.S. Track Coaches Association National and Mideast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for sprints and hurdles. Smith Gilbert was responsible for the development of Trotter, the 2007 USA Indoor and Outdoor Champion and a 2004 gold medalist in the 4x400-meter relay. She ranked among the top six in the world each of the past four years. She also coached Tianna Madison to the 2005 world championship in the long jump.
With a number of Smith Gilbert's athletes playing pivotal roles, the Lady Vols won the school's first NCAA Indoor Championship in 2005. That year, her group combined for 24 All-America honors and seven school records.
As a member of the Lady Vols' staff, Smith Gilbert was instrumental in the development of several world-class athletes. Cleo Tyson won the 100-meter dash and helped the U.S. 4x100 relay team earn gold at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Championships. She also mentored Toyin Olupona, the 2005 Canadian National Champion in the 100-meter dash and the two-time NCAA runner-up in the 60-meter dash.
In addition to contributing to UT's NCAA Indoor title in 2005, Smith Gilbert's charges helped the Lady Vols win SEC Indoor Championships in 2005 and 2007 and an NCAA Mideast Regional outdoor crown in 2005. The Lady Vols also posted top-four finishes at the 2004, 2005 and 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Prior to her appointment at Tennessee in 2002, Smith Gilbert was an assistant coach at the University of Alabama, where she spent three years guiding athletes in the sprints, hurdles and jumps. During her tenure with the Crimson Tide, she produced seven NCAA Division I All-Americans and four USA Olympic Trials qualifiers.
Smith Gilbert previously held similar responsibilities as an assistant at Penn State from 1997-99. While in Happy Valley, her results included athletes who accumulated four All-America honors and nine school records, and made the finals at the Big Ten Championships on 10 occasions. She also served the school as an instructor for the exercise science department.
Prior to becoming a collegiate coach, Smith Gilbert was the head coach from 1994-97 at her prep alma mater, George Washington High School in Denver. During her tenure, her program produced two state titles and three All-America selections. Under her tutelage, five of her athletes accepted full scholarships to NCAA Division I schools.
In addition to her experience at the high school and collegiate levels, Smith Gilbert was an assistant with Team USA during the NACAC Championships and was invited to coach the sprints at the 2005 Pan Am Junior Championships. She also was selected as an assistant coach for the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.
A former indoor national record holder in the 55- and 60-meter dashes, Smith Gilbert was a two-time Colorado state champion in the 200-meter dash and long jump and a three-time state champion in the 100-meter dash as a prep standout. She set state records in each of those three events and went on to become a three-time All-American at UCLA, where she was a Pacific 10 Conference champion in the 100-meter dash, 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay. She was part of an NCAA Championship runner-up 4x400-meter squad and was an All-American in the 4x100-meter relay in 1988 and 1989.
A 1991 graduate of UCLA, Smith Gilbert holds a bachelor's degree in film and television production. She also holds master's degrees in sport management and sport psychology from Tennessee. She is a 2006 USATF Level III Coaches Education Clinician.
She is married to former NFL linebacker Greg Gilbert. Their family includes sons Alex, Spencer and Osiris.