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Catching up with Jeremy Fischer ’99

Jeremy Fischer didn’t plan on becoming a coach when he came to the UW. Now he’s coaching track and field athletes at the highest level: Olympians.

Fischer’s coaching career began with his own Olympic ambitions. He earned a track and field scholarship at the UW, became an All-American high jumper, and contributed to three consecutive “triple crowns” (when a school wins cross country, indoor, and outdoor Big Ten championships in a single year). After completing a degree in nutrition and molecular biology, Fischer stayed on as a grad assistant coach while training for the 2000 Olympic trials. He earned seventh place with a high jump of 7'3".

Fischer’s experience coaching for the Badgers inspired a career shift. Rather than pursuing a job in the pharmaceutical industry as planned, he went to California State University–Northridge and earned a master’s degree in exercise science and biomechanics. After racking up a resume full of conference championships and national champions, Fischer was hired by the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, to coach long, high, and triple jump. To date, he’s coached athletes to 18 Olympic and world championship medals and 30 Paralympic and World Para championship medals.

  • Favorite ’90s band: Jodeci
  • Favorite ’90s movie or TV show: Waterboy and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • Favorite campus-area hangout: “Helen C. White. I felt like you got real people when you went to the library.”
  • ’90s trend you’re happy to have left behind: “There were so many scooters, thousands of scooters. Everybody had scooters.”
  • ’90s trend you’d like to bring back: “I think one thing about the ’90s is that you could appreciate people who were different from you a little bit — we weren’t so politicized. I felt like during my time at Wisconsin, I knew there probably were plenty of Republicans, there were probably plenty of Democrats, but I felt like we got along a lot better because people didn’t have that social media bias or whatever else. So, I’d say less of just putting yourself in a little cultural or political niche. I think I would appreciate probably less social media from that standpoint.
  • Favorite Madison concert: “I actually worked at the Kohl Center, so I got to see a lot of concerts. But still, my favorite concert ever was Elton John. Because I worked there, I got to drive Faith Hill and Tim McGraw to the stage, so that was a cool situation. But Elton John — that was amazing.”
  • Best dorm horror story: Man, I don’t even think I should tell this story. It’s terrible. I’ll say it, but I’m going to leave out the names. My roommate in college was a cross-country runner, and our neighbor used to play tricks on us. He’d lean the trash can up against the door filled with water so when we opened the door, it spilled on our floor. He used to take a bag of shaving cream and put it under our door and stomp on it. He used to put Vaseline on a doorknob, things like that.
    This is terrible, but my roommate got sick and tired of it. We shared bathrooms, and so he went to go use the bathroom, and my roommate took a bucket of ice water and dumped it on him when he was going to the bathroom. And the guy who he did it to chased him down the hall with his underwear around his ankles.
    I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard in my entire life. Our RA, he couldn’t even be mad. He was laughing so hard. He was like, ‘I know I’m supposed to be punishing you guys, but that was hilarious.’ ”

What accomplishments are you most proud of working on in the last 25 years?

Definitely getting [my] degrees. So, Wisconsin, Cal State–Northridge, and then I [have many] certifications. Then, the first Olympic medal I helped my athlete win, which was in 2012. It was long jump. That was the most memorable because it was the first one. And just continuing to help athletes win.

Your first one’s always your most memorable one that you help an athlete get coached to. But really, it’s just so much more. I coach athletes from Latvia, France, Spain, China, India, Korea, the U.S., obviously, Canada. I’ve coached athletes from all over the world, and it just opened so many opportunities. [I’ve] been to 76 countries, been to 49 out of 50 states, and it really opens up a lot. And even after you get a great education, it’s amazing to experience the world and have the world educate you.

What are you working on now?

I have a couple things. I have the MVA (Maximum Velocity Athletics), the foundation, which was created to help support Olympic and potential Olympic athletes. So, in the foundation, we sponsor athletes, and we try to host competitions so that the athletes have opportunities to go to the Olympics and go to the world championships. And then I created a business called MVA, also Maximum Velocity Athletics.

With that, it’s the whole gamut: coaching young and high-school-aged kids, coaching coaches, and then also coaching athletes from all over the world. I worked with the Chinese Federation and the Indian Athletics Federation this past year, the Korean Federation, U.S., Guatemala. MVA is mainly track, but we do speed and agility. We work with NFL players and major league baseball players.

So, that’s the business. It’s been rewarding, but it’s easy because it’s my passion. So, it’s like Confucius says, “A man who does what he loves hasn’t worked a day of his life.” I’m enjoying it every single day. So, to be able to create a business out of it is even better.

Are there any courses or professors — or coaches — from the UW that have had a lasting influence on you?

For me, obviously, it was Ed Nuttycombe. He's the winningest coach, period, ever in the Big Ten. When we were there, we won the triple crown every year. [The team] won a national championship shortly after I left. Ed, and then Mark Napier, who was my coach. But it’s also the relationships I have with some of my teammates. I’ve been successful in my own, but to see the success of all my teammates — doctors, lawyers, people who are running million-dollar businesses.

We’re all on a group chat on Facebook. Once every six months, we get on a call and just catch up with each other. So, those relationships that I built there were great.

I’d tell young people to build the relationships with their teachers better. I had good relationships, but I wish I would have built better ones. But I felt like I had that in my coaches. Now, having been a professor for a little while, I wish I would have built a couple more relationships with the professors at Wisconsin. But my coaches by far [have had a lasting influence], for sure.

What’s your best memory from your time on campus?

I couldn’t say one thing besides the friendships that you make — the people I met at Wisconsin are still some of the best friends I have in the world. But there’s so many different things. I didn’t party. I did not really like to go out. We lived on Langdon Street. But I remember us hosting a party. And I got to DJ. And it was just so much fun.

And running out to Picnic Point, because it’s such a beautiful run out there. Just chilling, having a drink, and listening to a local band out at the Union. There are just so many different memories. For me, I love food, and I’m still a foodie, so I remember all the different spots. It was 25-cent wings at BW3 (Buffalo Wild Wings). And it was two-for-one at Dotty Dumpling’s, 25-cent peel-and-eat shrimp at the White Horse.

I can’t sit there and say one memory. It was just all the memories that encompass your experience when you’re at Wisconsin.

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