PHILADELPHIA - Penn Athletics is mourning the loss of legendary track & field coach Irving "Moon" Mondschein, who passed away on Friday at the age of 91.
"This was heartbreaking news for all of us at Penn today," said Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Steve Dolan. "This is not just a loss for Penn, but the entire track & field community.Moon was a friend and mentor to so many of us. He will always be remembered as an incredible athlete and a legendary coach, but also a caring, compassionate and kind-hearted person. He had an impact on so many lives, which was never more evident than at the dedication of our throwing facility, where his memory will live on forever."
Just 14 months ago, in front of a large crowd of Moon's family, friends and former athletes, Penn named its brand new, state-of-the-art throwing venue, The Irv "Moon" Mondschein Throwing Complex, in honor of one of the school's most beloved track and field coaches.
"Irv was one of a kind, and my early mentor at Penn," head women's track & field coach Tony Tenisci -- who has served as the throws coach at Penn for the better part of three decades -- said at the time of the dedication. "Standing next to him while coaching was a fantastic experience. He knew his athletes inside and out...he knew how to teach, guide and motivate them. All done with a great sense of humor and relaxation. His athletes just loved him and would do anything for their coach. His strength of character and undeniable belief in his athletes made him legendary. Irv embodied all of the great qualities of a coach, and his tireless dedication to his athletes and Penn is deserving of the wonderful recognition of having his name placed on the new state-of-the-art throwing venue at Penn."
Moon began his coaching career at the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant track coach in 1965. When Penn Athletics Hall of Fame coach Jim “Tupp” Tuppeny retired in 1979, Moon took over the head coaching position, where he remained for eight years.
Moon was nationally renowned in his coaching expertise. At age 27, he coached Israel’s first Olympic team at the 1952 Helsinki Games. At age 62, while head coach at Penn, Moon was a member of the U.S. Track & Field coaching staff for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.
Moon was also an all-around athlete. While at New York University, he was all-East in football; but it was in track and field where Moon had the greatest success. He was the National AAU decathlon champion in 1944, 1946, and 1947. In 1948 Moon placed second, earning him a spot on the United States Olympic Track & Field team, and he competed in the London Olympics as a decathlete. Moon also was NCAA champion in the high jump in 1947 and 1948.
Moon was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame as well as into the NYU Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.