Karcic, Muncan, Reid and Sullivan are set to compete on sport's grandest stage
Gina Procaccio enters her tenth season at the helm and was instrumental in bringing the program back into the national spotlight. A former All-American and Big East Champion herself as a Wildcat, Procaccio is familiar with the winning history of Villanova Track and Field. After much success as a professional runner both nationally and internationally, her passion for the sport eventually led her into coaching. Having grown up nearby, Procaccio had heard about Villanova track and field since the first time she laced up her spikes. This made the decision easy when offered the opportunity to return to her alma mater.
After consistently having her teams compete near the upper echelon for the past nine years, Procaccio joined the elite coaching ranks when she was named the 2009 NCAA Division I National Coach of the year for cross country. Procaccio was bestowed this prestigious honor after leading her team through an undefeated season which included winning the Big East Championships for the second straight year, as well as winning the Mid-Atlantic Regional championships and finally the NCAA Championships. Procaccio was also named the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year as well as joining assistant Meghan Shaner as they earned their second straight Big East Staff of the Year honor. Five of Procaccio's athletes, Amanda Marino, Sheila Reid, Bogdana Mimic, Alison Smith and Nicole Schappert garnered All-American honors at the NCAA meet. Despite the program winning seven NCAA titles prior to this one, this was the first time a Villanova team put all five scoring runners in the top thirty at the NCAA meet.
Procaccio also guided Sheila Reid to the individual Big East and Mid-Atlantic Regional titles while teammate Amanda Marino finished second to Reid at both races. Reid was named the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Regional Athlete of the year. The 2009 track and field season produced a pair of individual Big East Champions, five NCAA qualifiers outdoors and three NCAA qualifiers indoors as well as two athletes earning double All-American Honors. This included Frances Koons finishing second and third respectively at the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships in the 5000m.
The 2008 cross country season was a great preview of what was to come in 2009 as Procaccio guided her team to the program's 11th Big East Championship. As a result Procaccio and assistant coach Meghan Courtney were named the Big East Staff of the Year. Koons went on to win the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and was named the Mid-Atlantic Regional Athlete of the Year. Koons lead the team in qualifying for the NCAA Championships. An impressive 6th place finish at the NCAA Championships, Procaccio added two more to her growing list of All-Americans as Frances Koons and Amanda Marino earned All-American honors.
The 2008 track and field season produced an individual Big East title indoors and four individual Big East titles outdoors. In addition, four wildcats earned trips to the NCAA Championships. Procaccio also guided Koons to her first Olympic Trials where she made it to the semi-final round in the 1500m.
During her 14 years as both an assistant and head coach at 'Nova, Procaccio has guided her athletes to 9 individual NCAA titles, 66 All-American honors and 49 individual Big East titles. In the classroom, her cross country team was awarded the highest team GPA among sports at Villanova four out of the last five years. The team has also garnered numerous All- Academic honors, both individually and as a team.
A 1987 graduate of Villanova, Procaccio made her mark on Villanova's record book, despite only one year of eligibility after transferring from the University of Florida. In her senior season on the Main Line, she ran leadoff leg on the 4 x 800m relay team that placed first at the NCAA Championships and set a new world, American and collegiate record of 8:24.77. Procaccio also placed 5th at the same meet in the 1000m, to earn individual All American honors. She capped off the meet setting the still standing school record of 2:42.68 in the 1000m. In addition she helped set collegiate, American and World records in the distance medley relay(11:00.76) team that same year.
After her Villanova career, Procaccio ran successfully in national and international competition. She has participated in three World Championships and qualified for the final in the 5000m at the 1995 World Championships. That same year Procaccio was the US National Champion in the 5000m. She has qualified for four US Olympic Trials and finished as high as third in the US National Cross Country Championships. Procaccio has won six individual Penn Relay watches to go with the Distance Medley Relay win she won as a wildcat. Procaccio's professional career was cut short by injury at the age of 31, right after her most successful season in which she won her first national title and finished the season with U.S. rankings of 1, 2 and 5 in the 3000m, 5000m and 1500m respectively. It was also the year before the 1996 Olympics, the year which would have given Procaccio her best shot of becoming an Olympian, after finishing fifth in the 1500m at the 1992 Trials. Ironically, Procaccio views the lessons learned from her trials and tribulations of dealing with such a setback as powerful tools of coaching when it comes to helping her athletes achieve their ultimate success.
Prior to assistant coaching at Villanova from 1994-97 and 1998-2000, she served for one year (1987-88) as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee and one year (1990-91) as an assistant coach at Georgetown University. Procaccio and her husband, Steve Santaniello reside in Oaks, PA.