Coaches are the backbone of high school sports. Any regular reader of this space knows we recognize the accomplishments of the nation's mentors as often as we can. Simply, they deserve it.
The National Federation of State High School Associations governs prep sports across the country, and its coaches association has announced its National Coaches of the Year
The 20 honorees originally were recognized as state winners in their respective sports before moving to the sectional level. An advisory committee ranks the sectional winners to determine the national honoree.
The 2011 NFHS winners for boys sports:Baseball:
Ernie Smith, David Lipscomb High School (Nashville, Tenn.)Basketball:
Jim Eekhoff, Western Christian (Hull, Iowa)Cross country:
Jerry Becker, Eagle Grove (Iowa)Football:
Thurman Bell, Roseburg (Ore.)Golf:
Jeffrey Doherty, Edmond North (Okla.)Ice Hockey:
Harvey Cohen, Chatham (N.J.)Soccer:
Kevin Johnson, Kingwood (Texas)Swimming & Diving:
Milton Briggs, East Grand Rapids (Mich.)Tennis:
Richard Taylor, Forest Grove (Ore.)Track & Field:
Jerry Cutright, Louisa County (Mineral, Va.)Wrestling:
Rocky Nelson, Mogollon (Heber, Ariz.)
The 2011 NFHS winners for girls sports:Basketball:
Suzanne Oelschlegel, MacArthur (Irving, Texas)Cross country:
James Holdren Jr., Walker Governor's (Richmond, Va.)Soccer:
Alexis Salvo, St. Joseph (Ogden, Utah)Softball:
Richard Berthiaume, Bellows Free Academy (Fairfax, Vt.)Spirit:
Carolyn Rae Hernandez, Nogales (Ariz.)Swimming & Diving:
Shannon Dunworth, Mercy (Farmington Hills, Mich.)Tennis:
Dick Villaflor, tennis, Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City)Track & Field:
Ted Zuzzio ,Baldwin (Kan.)Volleyball:
Rose Ella Cheek, Siloam Springs (Ark.)Note: a national coach of the year was not selected for girls lacrosse.In addition to the NFHS awards, the Morgan Wootten Award
winners were announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The award, officially listed as the Morgan Wootten Award for Lifetime Achievement in Coaching High School Basketball, is presented to one boys and one girls coach annually. Its namesake is one of only two high school coaches enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The 2012 boys winner is Ed Pepple of Mercer Island (Wash.)
. He has led the program since 1968, collecting four state titles and four runner-up finishes. With a career record of 902-305, Pepple has the most wins of any active head coach. He has been selected the state coach of the year seven times and was the National Association of Basketball Coaches national winner in 1997.
The 2012 girls winner is Brad Smith of Oregon City (Ore.)
. In his 27 seasons, Smith has compiled a 654-94 record, which includes 25 league titles and 10 state championships. His 1995, 1996 and 1997 teams were recognized as national champions by USA Today. Smith's other national honors include the National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Coach of the Year.
The Wootten winners are selected by a national committee of Hall of Famers, national high school media and tournament directors. Wootten will present the awards to Pepple and Smith at the McDonald's All-American Game in March.