Mika Laaksonen was named head coach on April 14, 2010 after serving 12 years as assistant coach under legendary coach Bob Kitchens.
During his time as assistant coach, Laaksonen coached two NCAA champions in the javelin and 22 All-Americans in the shot put, hammer and javelin.
In addition, Laaksonen has coached 30 conference champions since 1999.
In 2011, Laaksonen lead freshmen Richard Olsson to a silver finish at the Conference USA Championships in the javelin with a mark of 67.94m (222-11). Olsson advanced to the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships and finished 24th in the javelin with a mark of 64.67m (212-2).
During the 2010 outdoor season, Laaksonen directed Anna Wessman to a third-place finish in the javelin and Dimitrios Fylladitakis to fourth-place in the hammer at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors.
In addition, Laaksonen guided All-American Keisha Walkes to a seventh-place finish in the shot put at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In 2007, he coached Erma Gene Evans to a runner-up finish in the javelin at the NCAA Outdoor Championship, earning her All-America status, after she took gold at the conference and regional levels. Evans hit her season best of 56.45 at the conference meet.
Laaksonen coached Matti Närhi to the javelin national title in 1999, and Angeliki Tsiolakoudi to the 2000 title. Along the way, Laaksonen helped both throwers attain school records and the all-time conference marks in the javelin. Tsiolakoudi also established a then-collegiate record in the event with a toss of 197-8 (60.26).
In 2006, he coached five Conference USA champions and one NCAA All-American. Laaksonen had Nina Schvedoff break the school record in the 20-pound weight throw (18.37; 60-3 1/4) and Evans break the Saint Lucia national record in the javelin (55.00; 180-5). His conference champions included Schvedoff (weight and hammer), Correy Harrison (discus), van der Merwe (javelin) and Evans (javelin).
In 2005, Laaksonen guided Harrison -- a walk-on -- to qualification for the NCAA Championships in the discus. Harrison was the 2005 WAC champion in the event and placed fourth at the 2005 NCAA Mountain Regional. He also worked with Schvedoff, who broke the school record in the 20-pound weight throw and won the conference title and Kaisa Kiintonen, who was the conference champion in the hammer. Both Schvedoff and Kiintonen were national qualifiers in the hammer as well.
In 2001, Laaksonen trained three more All-Americans during the outdoor season in Vesa Jäppinen (second, javelin), Vartia (fourth, hammer) and Anne-Laure Gremillet (eighth, hammer). Vartia and Jäppinen won Western Athletic Conference titles during the outdoor season. Vartia (third, hammer) and Mats Nilsson (fourth, javelin) gained All-America honors in 2000.
In his first season as a coach, he worked with All-Americans Ilmari Verho (sixth, hammer) and Tepa Reinikainen (seventh, shot put).
A former UTEP student-athlete and 1992 NCAA hammer champion, Laaksonen primarily works with the throwers and assists with recruiting.
Laaksonen grew up in Finland and spent two years at the University of Technology in Lappeenranta, Finland, where he majored in industrial economics before transferring to UTEP. He was an instant factor as a Miner, winning the 1992 NCAA Championship in both the 35-pound weight throw indoors and the hammer throw outdoors.
Laaksonen repeated his All-American performance in 1993, placing second in the hammer at NCAA's. His throw of 244-3 (74.44) still ranks second all-time among Miner athletes. Following the completion of his eligibility at UTEP, Laaksonen competed in several competitions abroad, including the 1994 European Championships and the 1995 World Championships. While coach Laaksonen no longer throws the hammer competitively, he did finish in the top 50 in the world in 1996 and 1997, including recording a career best of 250-1 (76.22) in 1996.
For his efforts as a Miner, he was enshrined in the UTEP Track and Field Hall of Fame in April of 2005.
Laaksonen received his undergraduate degree in finance from UTEP in 1995 and his master of science in economics in July 1998.