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Image Courtesy of Angad Johar

Wayne’s World: The Man Behind NYUAD Athletics’ Legacy

Keep walking in and before you know it, you’ll be standing in front of the grand entrance to Wayne’s World — home to the man who was here from the very beginning.

Dec 7, 2019

Take a sharp right turn from where the marketplace begins and you’ll find yourself in the vibrant athletics hallway on campus — with intercollegiate team photos and dedicated desert falcon imagery adorning the walls. Keep walking in and before you know it, you’ll be standing in front of the grand entrance to ‘Wayne’s World’, home to the man who was here from the very beginning.
At some point in your NYU Abu Dhabi experience, there is a high chance that you’ll have a Coach Wayne story to tell. From taking his P.E. course to hearing an encouraging story during events like Screw Up Night, or simply taking a trip to his office, which is perpetually filled with magazine subscriptions he can’t figure out how to cancel.
Before coming to NYUAD in July 2010, Young worked as the Administrative Director of the Cancer Care Center in Battle Creek Hospital, Michigan. “I [got] to be in charge of people providing care for cancer patients, what more could I dream of?”
Starting as the Associate Director of Athletics, Intramurals and Recreation, Young has catalysed the birth and subsequent expansion of NYUAD Athletics. With the absence of any sports facilities in place, student athletics started through contracts with outside agencies. “We started over at Al Muna Primary School, we would take people over there [on] Thursday nights and we’d have some people in the gym playing basketball, some people playing football/soccer, out back on an AstroTurf pitch… just so people were out doing stuff on Thursday nights,” Young shared.
There was gradual growth from then on, with an effort to compete with other universities under the Abu Dhabi Inter-University Sports League (ADISL) headed by Coach Peter Dicce. “The big evolution, the big step was in 2014 when we came [to Saadiyat Campus] and we had these facilities … The athletics department now has seven intercollegiate teams that compete in ADISL,” Young said. “Facilities have been expanded to an indoor track, basketball and badminton facilities, an outdoor track, a swimming pool, a football field and a climbing wall … it's been fun to watch the Athletics Department grow and have been part of that in the beginning.”
Young graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. His passion for health and wellness, however, stems from his childhood. “A week before my 14th birthday … [my mother] died of breast cancer, which at that [time] was not even talked about … My sister had died of breast cancer, too, in 1988 so I had lost the two most significant women in my life, essentially, to breast cancer,” expressed Young. “So I grew passionate about that cause and that set me on a path of about 20 years of being a breast health advocate.”
In March 2019, one of his daughters was also diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 years old. A deleterious genetic mutation for breast cancer was detected in Young and two of his daughters. Facing these situations with resilience, Young stresses the importance of education and early intervention. Young’s decisions both career-wise and in personal life, were driven by his continuous advocacy for breast cancer awareness and breast health. He started raising awareness with events in Battle Creek, Michigan, and moved on to attend international breast health conferences. His efforts for advocacy haven’t stopped since he came to NYUAD. He actively participates in the annual NYUAD Breast Health Awareness Campaign and is the announcer for the annual ADCB Pink Run.
In addition to breast health advocacy, Young is passionate about running, although ‘passionate’ doesn’t do enough to describe his love of the sport. “I think that [running] helped me through everything else in my life, just because it was something for me to be focused on and something I knew I could do and enjoyed doing — it allowed me to clear my head,” he said.
In his 46 years of running — coming up on 47 — Young reflects on how the leadership skills he gained from his time at West Point and his passion for running and working with people culminated in becoming a running coach. Near the trophy case in the indoor track, a huge whiteboard outlines his X+2 running program, a simple regimen for any runner at any level to follow.
Young actively remains in touch with the community even after the students have graduated or his colleagues have moved on to different jobs. As the current Director of Wellness, his focus is now on the students. “I get to make this a better place to go to school and a better place for staff and faculty to work,” he stated. “We're working on the mental fitness stuff as part of our department, so we can meld all that together and give students what I'm looking at as a kind of pyramid of base of support for them — socially, academically, personally, emotionally.”
The doors to his office are always open, and he welcomes and encourages students, staff and faculty to come and talk to him. “I have struggled in my life with many things … [so] for me the door's always opened,” Young said. “I want [students] to feel like they do know me.”
Angad Johar is a staff writer and Ayan Marwaha is a contributing writer. Email them at
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