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.
On the cross country side, Smith Gilbert has led the Knights to eight meet victories since taking over the program and witnessed Jamie Rzepecki claim Outstanding Senior of the Year at the 2009 C-USA Championships. In 2011, freshman Jamie Perzanowski earned the highest finish by a UCF runner at the C-USA cross country championships in five years.
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.
The track and field program has risen at even a more intense rate. 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.
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. Between the 2011 indoor and outdoor seasons, 16 school records and seven freshman records were broken on numerous occasions under Smith Gilbert's guidance.
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 August of 2009, Smith Gilbert served as the jumps coach of Team USA at the 2009 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Berlin, Germany.
She took the helm of the 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.
As a member of the Lady Vols staff, Smith Gilbert was instrumental in the development of several world class athletes. Cleo Tyson won the 100m dash and helped the U.S. 4x100m relay team earn gold at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Championships. Tyson was also the 2005 U.S. Junior champion in the 100m and 200m and the Pan Am Junior titleholder in the 100m. She also mentored Toyin Olupona, the 2005 Canadian National Champion in the 100m and two-time NCAA runner-up in the 60m.
In 2005, UT athlete Tianna Madison claimed the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor titles in the long jump before going on to win the event at the World Championships. It was that same year that Smith Gilbert was named U.S. Track Coaches Association National and Mideast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for sprints and hurdles.
One of her most decorated athletes was former UT standout DeeDee Trotter. After capturing the NCAA Outdoor Championship in the 400m, Trotter helped Team USA win the gold medal in the 4x400m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. She also took gold in the 4x400m relay at the 2003 World Championships.
Prior to her appointment at Tennessee in 2002, Smith Gilbert was the assistant coach 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. Three of her athletes were also members of the Jamaican National Team.
Smith Gilbert served in a similar position at Penn State University from 1997-99, watching her athletes break nine school records and earn All-America recognition four times. She was also the head girls track and field coach at her prep alma mater George Washington High School in Denver, Colo. for four years prior to making the jump to the collegiate level. The program yielded two state titles and three All-Americans.
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 has also been selected as an assistant coach for the 2007 World Championships in Oaska, Japan.
As an undergraduate at UCLA, Smith Gilbert was a three-time All-American and Pac-10 champion in the 100m, 4x100m relays and 4x400m relay. She earned her bachelor's degree in film and television production and also holds master's of science degrees in sport management and sport psychology from Tennessee. She is a 2006 USATF Level III Coaches Education Clinician, who earned USATF Level I in sprints and Level II status in jumps in 1998.
She is married to former NFL linebacker Greg Gilbert. Their family includes Greg's sons, Osiris, Alex and Spencer.