Coaching Today

2012 National Coaches of the Year


2013 Coaches of the Year_DBTwenty-two high school coaches from across the country have been selected as 2012 National Coaches of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.

The NFHS, which has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982, honors coaches in the top 10 girls sports and top 10 boys sports (by participation numbers), and in one “other” category that is not included in these 20 categories. For 2012 awards, the NFHS has added Spirit as a separate award category as well. Winners of NFHS awards must be active coaches during the year in which they receive their award. This year’s awards recognize coaches for the 2011-12 school year.

Recipients of this year’s national awards for girls sports are:  

Jim Ciccarello, track and field, Albuquerque (New Mexico) La Cueva High School; Al Schrauben, basketball, Portland (Michigan) Saint Patrick High School; Al Partelow, volleyball, Livingston (New Jersey) High School; Terry Hair, soccer, Olathe (Kansas) East High School; Thomas Kennelly, softball, Saginaw (Michigan) Swan Valley High School; Mark Kauk, cross country, Orange City (Iowa) Unity Christian High School; Larry Heflin, tennis, Paducah (Kentucky) Lone Oak High School; Darla Kelly, swimming and diving, Pasadena (Texas) High School; Deanna Knobloch, lacrosse, Moorestown (New Jersey) High School; and James Bennett, golf, Grosse Ile (Michigan) High School.

Recipients of the 2012 NFHS national awards for boys sports are: 

Rick Jones, football, Greenwood (Arkansas) High School; John Hancock, track and field, Lakewood (Colorado) Mullen High School; Craig Rothenberger, basketball, Junction City (Oregon) High School; Frank Carey, baseball, North Reading (Massachusetts) High School; Shawn Brower, soccer, Chattanooga (Tennessee) Christian High School; Neil Russo, wrestling, Newberg (Oregon) High School; Earl Lauer, cross country, Clarksville (Maryland) River Hill High School; Ruben Vargas, tennis, Vernon (Texas) High School; Jack Stoddard, golf, Duxbury (Massachusetts) High School; and Bruce Bove, swimming and diving, Overland Park (Kansas) Shawnee Mission South High School.

The recipient of the National Coach of the Year Award for spirit is Lisa Blackett of Nephi (Utah) Juab High School, and Debbie Bross of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) Moravian Academy was chosen in the other sports category for field hockey.

Following are biographical sketches on all award winners:

By Taylor Wilkerson  

Girls Sports 


Al Schrauben 

Al SchraubenCoaching one high school athletic team is a tough task to handle. Coaching multiple athletic teams during the same school year is even more impressive. However, Al Schrauben has found a way to coach multiple athletic teams at once and lead them to success over the past 27 seasons at Portland Saint Patrick High School in Portland, Michigan. Schrauben has coached, at one time or another, Portland’s varsity football, baseball and boys basketball teams. However, he is best known for his success as the varsity girls basketball head coach, where his teams have won just under 80 percent of its games; a record of 531-137. Add in the 12 conference championships, 19 district championships, 14 regional championships and six state championships, including four runner-up finishes, and it’s easy to see why Schrauben is highly regarded for his coaching abilities.

Even with all of this success, his philosophy has never been about winning. “High school athletics is part of the educational process,” said Schrauben. “We want our student-athletes to be proud representatives of our school, family and community.”

The 2011 hall of fame inductee of the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) not only teaches his athletes this philosophy, but he follows it as well. Schrauben has implemented many programs at Portland Saint Patrick to help students including the High School Quiz Bowl, Junior Achievement Economics Student Company, the seventh- and eighth-grade football program, and the seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball program. On top of this, he is currently a member of the Portland Saint Patrick Athletic Association, a third degree member of the Portland Saint Patrick Knights of Columbus, a Portland Little League baseball and softball coach, and was a high school class advisor for 20 years.

Schrauben’s success in the community and in athletics has earned him multiple awards, receiving a coach of the year award 15 times. Also, he was awarded the 2012 Saint Patrick Father Flohe Bell Award, the BCAM 500 Wins award, the Central Michigan Athletic 20 year Service Award, and was a member of the 2012 induction class of the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of fame.

Cross Country  

Mark Kauk 

Cross country is a race of distance, and Orange City (Iowa) Unity Christian High School’s girls cross country coach, Mark Kauk, has coached his teams to out-distance themselves from the opponents. In the past five seasons, Unity Christian’s girls cross country teams have been dominant, winning more than 95 percent of their meets including five conference championships, three regional championships and one state championship, with one runner-up finish. Overall, Kauk’s teams have won 15 conference championships, 10 regional championships, and four state championships, with four runner-up finishes. 

For his coaching efforts, Kauk has been named the Iowa State Coach of the Year four times (twice in 2A, twice in 1A), Iowa State Regional Coach of the Year for Cross Country three times, and has received the Iowa Association of Track Coaches 25-Year State Award.

Off the course, Kauk is or has been involved with various cross country organizations. He has been a member of the Iowa Girls HS Track Advisory committee, Iowa Association Track Coaches Senior All-Star Selection member, and is a current member of the Iowa Association of Track and Field Coaches. In addition, Kauk has created and implemented multiple programs to aid student athletes. These programs include the summer running program for high school runners, winter conditioning program for runners and junior high cross country program for feeder schools of Unity Christian. On top of this, Kauk has helped administer annual local cross country and track invitationals and has been a consultant and training advisor for the community half marathon.

As well as being involved on the course, Kauk has been involved in the classroom and community. In the classroom, he has been a science and math teacher for the past 36 years, and is a spiritual and service leader at Unity Christian for students. In the community, Kauk is a member of the Immanuel Christian Reformed Church. His off-track involvements have influenced the coach’s philosophy towards athletics.

 “I believe the purpose of athletics is to develop the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of the whole person through physical activity so as to reflect the character of Christ and to facilitate the achievement of each person’s God-gifted potential, “ said Kauk. “My role as a teacher and coach is to provide vision and leadership for this growth to occur.”

Field Hockey  

Debbie Bross  

For 32 seasons, Debbie Bross has been the head coach of the Moravian Academy womens field hockey team in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She has coached her teams to a record of 432 wins with 122 losses and 22 ties. In addition, her teams have won four conference championships, three district championships, three regional championships and one state championship, including four runner-up finishes.

Bross is very involved in the field hockey community, holding an office in the Pennsylvania State Coaches Association and serving on the state all-star selection committee. In addition, she is a member of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Pennsylvania Coaches Association, United States Field Hockey Association and the National Federation of State High School Association.

“I feel athletics helps young people to realize their potential in many ways,” Bross said. “It gives young people a social opportunity where they will form friendships that for many, last a lifetime.”

This philosophy and love for field hockey led Bross to develop the field hockey programs at Monrovia’s elementary, middle and high schools.

Outside of the game, Bross is an active member of her local community. She is active with the Moravian Church, a member of the Bethlehem Historical Society, and she volunteers with the Bethlehem Christmas tours.


James Bennett  

 James Bennett“As a golf coach, I believe that athletics, in particular golf, helps to develop character, integrity and leadership qualities,” said James Bennett, girls golf coach at Bournemouth (Michigan) Grosse Ile High School. “The students are just playing a game, but the lessons they learn will last a lifetime.”

This philosophy has helped Bennett mold successful teams over the past 43 seasons. In his coaching career, Bennett’s teams have won close to 84 percent of their meets, including 22 conference championships, 10 regional championships, and seven state championships, with two runner-up finishes.

Due to his teams’ success, Bennett has received various accolades, most notably being inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association (MIGCA) Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA) Hall of Fame in 2006. His awards include being named the MIGCA Coach of the Year (1998, 2002, 2011) and the Regional Coach of the Year (1998, 2002, 2009) three times each, while also being named the 2002 MHSCA Coach of the Year and the 2009 National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year.

Off the course, Bennett is a member of the Elks Club, Athletic Booster Club, and Grosse Ile Education Foundation. He is also currently a member of the MHSCA and MIGCA, and has previously held an office in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.


Deanna Knobloch 

With 13 state championships in 21 seasons, it’s safe to say that the Moorestown (New Jersey) High School girls lacrosse team has became a dynasty under the guidance of Deanna Knobloch. In her coaching career, Knobloch’s teams have a combined record of 429 victories with 29 losses and four ties. In addition to winning 13 state championships, her teams have won 18 conference championships, 12 regional championships and have finished with four runners-up finishes.

“While the ultimate goal is to win, and it is the coach’s job to do what he/she has to do in order to accomplish that goal, no player should ever be made to feel like they are not part of the team, whether they are playing or not,” said Knobloch about her coaching philosophy for high school teams. “We stress the importance of family in our program, and I believe that is one of the main components to our success.”

For her success, Knobloch has been named coach of the year numerous times by newspapers including the Philadelphia Enquirer, Newark Star Ledger, Courier Post and Burlington County Times. In addition, Knobloch has been inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame and into the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

In 2004, along with her husband, Knobloch’s passion for the sport led her to start South Jersey Select. South Jersey Select is a club lacrosse program that provides athletes in New Jersey the opportunity to play during the summer and fall months. In 2012, the program contained 12 teams with players ranging from grades six through 11.


Lisa Blackett 

Lisa BlackettIn the last five years as dance and drill team head coach at Juab High School in Nephi, Utah, Lisa Blackett has led her squads to four regional championships and one state championship runner-up finish. For her coaching career, Blackett’s teams have won 12 regional championships and five state championship runner-up finishes. Due to her success, Blackett was named the 1998 and 1999 Utah Dance and Drill Team Coach of the Year.

The dance and drill team coach believes that by participating in athletics “together, everyone achieves more. By working together we can teach our children positive life skills through the positive atmosphere of high school athletics.”

With this philosophy, Blackett is very involved with the sport she coaches outside of competitions. She is a current member of the Utah Dance and Drill Team Association, in which she has been the region representative, classification chairman and vice president. She has also implemented dance and drill programs at local schools including a mini drill team summer camp for local youth, peer tutor program for dancers, Dancers Against Cancer Relay for Life teams, and provides help for students who can’t afford dance classes.

In addition to being involved in school, Blackett is an active member in her local community. She is the entertainment chairman for the Juab County Relay for Life, a member of the Nephi Third Ward Young Womens Group, a member of the Miss Juab County Scholarship Pageant Committee, and she sponsors the Wings of Love 5k Race.


Terry Hair  

Terry HairAn original member of the state committee to help develop the guidelines for the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) girls soccer playoffs, Olathe (Kansas) East High School girls soccer Head Coach Terry Hair has been present from the beginning in girls soccer.

Over the past 20 seasons, Hair has led his teams to an overall record of 288 victories with 72 losses and 15 ties. During this span, his teams have captured 11 conference championships, 11 district championships, 11 regional championships and four state championships, with three runner-up finishes.

“My philosophy of athletics is to provide a structured, disciplined and challenging practice environment that will prepare athletes for game-like situations,” said Hair. “I demand a focused and high work rate at practice, and in turn believe that athletes will replicate those practice actions into strong game performances.”

For his success, Hair has received coach of the year honors from the Sunflower Soccer League, National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Kansas Coaches Association and Olathe Daily News. In addition, his 2012 spring soccer team received the No. 1 ranking in the nation in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Final Girls Soccer National Rankings.

Other than coaching, Hair is an active member of the Olathe Soccer Club, department chair for his high school’s physical education department, and he volunteers with his local church and the Kansas Special Olympics. 


Thomas Kennelly  

Thomas Kennelly“I’ve coached both girls and boys,” said Thomas Kennelly, softball coach at Swan Valley High School in Saginaw, Michigan. “With girls, you have to have them believe they are good. Work them extremely hard; make practice more difficult than games. (A coach has to) establish a culture with young girls, so they want to play softball, especially for our program.”

This philosophy for athletics has worked well for Kennelly. In the past 33 seasons, his teams have won just under 80 percent of their games with a record of 963 victories and 247 losses. In addition, Kennelly has led his teams to 23 conference championships, 14 district championships, eight regional championships and one state championship, with three runner-up finishes.

For his success, Kennelly has been honored, being named the District Coach of the Year 14 times, Regional Coach of the Year eight times, Class B Coach of the Year two times and Saginaw News Coach of the Year twice. The coach was also part of the 1997 induction class into the Michigan Softball Hall of Fame.

Currently, Kennelly is a member of the Michigan High School Coaches Association and the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association. In addition, he was an All-District chair, chair of Miss Softball Nomination Committee, All-Region chair, All-State Board member and twice was coach for the state all-star game.

Off the field, Kennedy is extremely involved in the local community. He has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for 40 years, president of Swan Valley School District Union and chief union negotiator for Swan Valley High School District. Kennelly has implemented multiple programs for local elementary and middle school girls including pitching clinics, softball fundamental clinics and basketball fundamental clinics.

Swimming and Diving  

Darla Kelly 

Darla KellyIn the past five seasons, the Pasadena (Texas) High School swimming and diving program has won 80 percent of its meets with three state finalist runner-up finishes under the guidance of Head Coach Darla Kelly. In her 31 seasons, Kelly’s teams have a record of 120 victories and 43 losses with one tie. In addition, her teams have won 37 conference championships, three district championships and have 10 state finalist runner-up finishes.

“I believe that participation in athletics gives the opportunity for any student to develop the skills and traits he or she will need to prepare for any of life’s endeavors,” said the veteran swimming and diving coach. “As a coach, I have the opportunity to reach out to students to prepare them for not only the competitive arena, but also their future lives. Coaches do not coach a specific sport. They coach people.”

This coaching philosophy has helped Kelly’s teams reach high levels of success over the years, earning her many coaching accolades. Her accolades include being named the Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coach (TISCA) District Diving Coach of the Year 14 times, TISCA District Swimming Coach of the Year 12 times, TISCA Region Diving Coach of the Year twice, and Texas Finswimming Association State Coach of the Year six times.

Due to her achievements as a coach, Kelly was selected as part of the Team USA Fin Swimming coaching staff for the 2000 World Championships in Majorca, Spain. In addition, Kelly has been the swimming commissioner for the U.S. Scholar-Athlete Games, head coach for the U.S. Scholar-Athlete Games, and a staff swimming coach for the World Scholar-Athlete Games.

Out of the pool, Kelly has found time to be involved with her school and community. She has implemented multiple programs for students including the Young Republicans Club, Faculty-Alumni-Student Swimming Meet, Thespian Troupe and Academic Decathlon.


Larry Heflin  

Larry HeflinOver the past 40 seasons as a varsity girls tennis coach at Paducah (Kentucky) Lone Oak High School, Larry Heflin has built a successful tennis program. Not only has Heflin’s teams won 28 regional championships, but they’ve also won 11 state championships, including two in the past five seasons.

 “Athletics should be a fun and rewarding experience,” said the veteran coach. “My hope is that my players will learn the value hard work plays in reaching their goals.”

Hefler’s coaching philosophy and overall success has led him to receiving multiple honors over the years including being named the 2008 National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) National Coach of the Year and the 2006 Garnis Martin Outstanding Coach of the Year given by the Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association and the Kentucky High School Coaches Association. In addition, Hefler’s coaching success earned him a spot in the USTA Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.

Besides coaching, Hefler has been active in community organizations, specifically the Lone Oak Tennis Association where he is the current director of tennis. He has also implemented programs to help students in his community including USTA Quick Start clinics, the junior tennis team and the Paducah Sun Sanctioned Junior Tournament.

Track and Field  

Jim Ciccarello  

Jim CiccarelloWith only 19 losses over the past five seasons, the Albuquerque (New Mexico) La Cueva High School Girls Track and Field team has been a constant success under the guidance of Coach Jim Ciccarello. While this recent string of success is impressive, it’s what Ciccarello has been accustomed to. As head coach for the past 28 seasons, Ciccarello has led his teams win 20 district championships and seven state championships, including six state runner-up finishes.

Inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, Ciccarello has earned numerous accolades for his coaching success. He has been named coach of the year 12 times including being named the New Mexico High School Coaches Association (NMHSCA) Coach of the Year and the New Mexico Track and Cross Country Association Coach of the Year four times each. In addition, Ciccarello is a member of the NMHSCA, the New Mexico High School Track and Cross Country Association and the New Mexico Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Not only is Ciccarello involved with athletics, but he has also implemented programs in schools for students. These programs include a jogging club, gymnastics team, jump rope team, aerobics team, a Turkey Trot-Thanksgiving Run and fifth-grade soccer, basketball and t-ball staff games.

Ciccarello has the mindset “that athletics is for everyone, not just the gifted.” He added that, “The commitment, motivation and the dedication you learn (from athletics) will help in all areas of life success. Athletics will help mold your future.”


Al Partelow  

Al PartelowWith 40 years of coaching experience, Livingston (New Jersey) High School volleyball coach Al Partelow’s teams have achieved almost everything a coach could desire. In addition to winning 71 percent of their regular season games, his teams have captured 19 conference championships, seven district championships, three regional championships and two state championships, with two state runner-up finishes.

“(My philosophy is) educating players in the sport of volleyball and teaching them to have confidence in what they have learned,” said Partelow. “(I also teach) players that, along with success, sometimes there is failure and (I teach them) how to take this failure and turn it into success.”

Partelow’s philosophy translated into continuous success at the high school level, earning the coach many accolades over the years. Over the years, he has been named the New Jersey Star Ledger Girls and Boys Coach of the Year, Boy and Girls of Essex County (New Jersey) Coach of the Year and League Boys and Girls Coach of the Year.

Off the court, Partelow is an active member in his local community. A retired teacher, Partelow has implemented multiple programs for the students in his local community. These include Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser games, Hunger Awareness Food Bank Donation games, the Livingston Volleyball Association Parent Booster Organization and the Livingston Recreation instructional volleyball program for students from grades five through seven.

These bios were written by Taylor Wilkerson, a 2013 spring intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department and a senior at Franklin (Indiana) College. 


By Jason Haddix  

Boys Sports 


Rick Jones 

During his 23 seasons as a high school head football coach, Rick Jones has compiled 225 wins. The past eight years he has been at Greenwood (Arkansas) High School, where his team finished the 2012 season with its third straight state championship and is currently on a 38-game winning streak. The state title gave Jones his seventh during his career and sixth at Greenwood. His other championship came while at Edmond (Oklahoma) High School.

Much of Jones’ career was spent in Oklahoma, where he held two positions with the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association, secretary treasurer and vice president.

Jones has been part of developing many programs for young people. Some programs relate to school functions like study hall with tutors for his players and leadership classes for his team leaders. Other programs include; adopt a pup, dog pals and the father-son retreat. Jones has even hired a life coach to help his team with any off-the-field problems.


As the eldest coach at the school, Jones works hard to be a mentor for his peers at Greenwood and in the neighboring communities.

Jones philosophy on athletics is that sports provide young people the opportunity to learn more than just about the sport itself but about how to become better people.


Shawn Brower  

Shawn BrowerDuring Shawn Brower’s 19-year coaching career, he has developed the philosophy that athletics are a microcosm of life. Student-athletes are given the opportunity to learn life lessons that will benefit them long after their playing days are behind them.

Brower has amassed a 321-61-25 career record coaching boys soccer. His teams have captured 16 district championships and 11 regional champions, which led to four state championships in seven tries. His most recent was in 2011 at Chattanooga (Tennessee) Christian School, where he also serves as upper school head.

Many coaching honors have been bestowed on Brower in Florida, where his coaching career began in 1993 and in Tennessee where he has coached since 2004. While coaching at Orangewood (Florida) Christian School, he was named the 2002 National High School Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association. He was also named a Florida State Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2000. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) honored Brower with the A.F. Bridges Sportsmanship Award in 2010-11.

Brower founded and is a leader of the “Captains’ Club,” a program that educates team captains in all sports about leadership and sportsmanship. He also works with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and serves a youth soccer coach.

Community and youth involvement for Brower includes working with a mentoring program for middle and high school students known as GAP: Growth, Accountability and Prayer. He is also involved with several community service organizations like; Windows Harvest, Shepherd’s Arms and Hope For Chattanooga.

He also recently authored a book, “We Become Men.” 


Jack Stoddard  

In his 25 years of coaching golf, Jack Stoddard has amassed 370 wins on the links. The two-time Boston Globe Coach of the Year has led the Duxbury (Massachusetts) High School boys golf team to seven Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association state championships, including two in the past five years.

Aside from the boys’ varsity golf team, Stoddard also coaches Duxbury’s girls varsity golf. In the past, he has coached football, basketball and baseball and is active in after school programs at Duxbury Middle School. For 35 years, he has been a member of Board 54-Basketball Officials.

Stoddard believes that students involved in athletics should always give their best efforts and have fun doing it.


Frank Carey 

Frank CareyThe North Reading (Massachusetts) High School baseball team has recorded 697 wins under Frank Carey’s tutelage. During Carey’s 48 seasons, North Reading has captured five state championships and 25 conference crowns. The school’s most recent state championship came in 2012 and was its second in the past five years.

The 2012 National High School Baseball Coaches Association (NHBCA) Hall of Fame inductee believes that athletes must develop self-discipline, commitment and a sense of responsibility. As a coach, he stresses to his team the value of teamwork.

Carey has racked up several regional, state and national coach of the year honors. He has served as president of the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association and the NHBCA. He also was the chairman of the state coaches’ clinic and all-star game.

For nearly five decades, Carey has taught physical education. Aside from baseball, he has also coached football, gymnastics and cross county.

He is a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, National Education Association, Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association, American Baseball Coaches’ Association and NHBCA.


Ruben Vargas 

 Ruben VargasRuben Vargas has coached high school tennis for 30 seasons at Vernon (Texas) High School. He has compiled a 750-150 record with 26 district titles and five state championships. His success has led to him being named the Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA) Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1998.

In 2003, Vernon High School constructed a new tennis facility and honored Vargas by naming it the Ruben Vargas Tennis Complex. He had a large board placed inside the complex with the Special Olympics motto on it. “Let me win, if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” 

Vargas said everything they do in his tennis program has that motto as its core. He wants the students and community to know what the program was about.He is a member of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, United States Tennis Association, Texas High School Coaches Association and the TTCA. He serves as president of the TTCA after having been the first and second vice president.

Vargas is also a motivational speaker and talks with students at Vernon as well as other districts in the area. He can also be heard a various community and private functions.

Swimming and Diving 

Bruce Bove 

In the 37 years Bruce Bove has led high school swimming teams at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas, they have recorded 206 wins and earned four state championship crowns. But, Bove says it is not just about wins and losses.

His philosophy is that success is improving on your times as a swimmer and your dives a diver. He believes it is his responsibility to provide student-athletes the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential.

Bove is a member of several coaching associations, including the Kansas Coaches Association and the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association. Both groups have named him as coach of the year on multiple occasions.

The former president of the Kansas Swim Coaches Association is a member of the Leawood Methodist Church and also serves as the chairman of the Science Department at Shawnee Mission South High School. 

Cross Country 

Earl E. Lauer 

In Earl Lauer’s 42 years of coaching boys cross country, he has orchestrated 16 conference championship, 17 regional championships and five state championships. The current coach at River Hill HS in Clarksville, Maryland, strives to help each team member to reach his full potential and experience success in doing so.

Diverse describes Lauer’s coaching career. In addition to his time with cross country, Lauer has coached wrestling for 28 years, outdoor track for 19 years, indoor track for 12 years and allied bowling for a season. In all, he has accumulated more than 100 varsity athletic seasons coached.

He has been named coach of the year by multiple organizations in multiple sports. In 2003-04, the National Wrestling Coaches Association bestowed the honor on him, and in 2008, the Baltimore Sun named him Metropolitan Coach of the Year for outdoor track. In 2010, the Washington Post named him cross country coach of the year. In 2007, Lauer was enshrined into the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Lauer belongs to multiple education and athletic associations as well at the National Guard Association of Maryland and the National Guard Association of the United States.


Neil Russo 

Community involvement is important to Neil Russo. The 21-year coaching veteran believes that athletics play a role in teaching students valuable lessons and skills that will benefit them the remainder of their lives. He currently coaches at Newbury (Oregon) High School wrestling.

Some the community projects Russo is involved in are Fiends in Services to Humanity, Love Inc. and the Newberg Boosters Club. He is also active in youth only programs like the Everyday Champions Program, Big Brother Program and Tiger Takedown Youth Wrestling.

Russo is a member of several athletic coaches organizations, including the National Wrestling Coaches Association, which honored him with coach of the year honors in 2009. He is a regional and district representative to the Oregon School Activities Association and is a state council member of the Oregon Wrestling Association.

His wrestling teams have amasses a 286 wins in 344 attempts. He has also led them to five state championships.

Track and Field 

John Hancock  

Success and accolades are nothing new for John Hancock. The Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Famer has led his boys track and field teams to a state championship in 11 of his 33 years as a coach. In his past five seasons at Mullen High School, Hancock has captured a state championship and was runner up twice. During that same time frame, his teams compiled 630 wins, giving him 2,542 for his career. 

Hancock belongs to the National High School Coaches Association, Colorado State Coaches Association and the Colorado State High School Track Coaches Association, which he has served as its president. He has been honored 16 times as a coach of the year by various groups, including eight times by the Centennial League.

Working in the community is an important to Hancock. He has worked with Colorado Special Olympics for several years as well as worked with adaptive programs at Fletcher Miller.

Hancock hopes students learn life skills all while enjoying the competition of track and field. He enjoys keeping in touch with his former students as they grow in their family, community and chosen career.


Craig Rothenberger 

Craig RothenbergerCraig Rothenberger is embedded in his 42nd season as a high school head basketball coach, and currently strolls the sidelines at Junction City (Oregon) High School. During the previous 41 seasons, he has earned a record of 557-426 and won five conference and district championships, 10 district championships and a state title in two trips to the finals.

Rothenberger strives to incorporate athletics into his teaching of young people as his philosophy is athletics is the single best vehicle to teach many important life skills. The coach – athlete relationship is vital to the student-athlete becoming successful adults.

As a member of the Oregon Athletic Directors Association, Rothenberger serves as its representative to the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association and the Oregon Schools Activities Association executive boards.

He created chaired the Junction City High School Athletic Hall of Fame Board. Rothernberger is also a member of the Junction City Lions Club and the high school boosters club.

Rothenberger currently serves as Junction City High School’s athletic director, a position he has held for 30 years. In the past, he served as a football, baseball and golf coach.

Many young people have benefited from Rothenberger’s help with the Coaches Table program, which assists athletes to be successful in the classroom and with the Care Team that assists students who suffer from drug/alcohol and other life issues.


Jason Haddix is a 2013 spring intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department and a senior at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.




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