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Nelson of West Florence receives national coaching honor

The National Federation of State High School Coaches Associations has picked former West Florence coach Charles Nelson as the 2017 national coach of the year for boys tennis. Nelson coached the Knights to four state championships over 35 years with the school. PHOTO CREDIT: NFSH Coaches Association

Twenty-three high school coaches from across the country have been selected as 2017 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 two “other” sports – one for boys and one for girls – that are not included in the top 10 listings. The NFHS also recognizes a spirit coach as a separate award category. Winners of NFHS awards must be active coaches during the year for which they receive their award. This year’s awards recognize coaches for the 2016-17 school year.

Recipients of this year’s national awards for boys sports are: Eloy Brazil, basketball, Maxwell (New Mexico) Municipal Schools; Eric Cummings, cross country, Greer (South Carolina) Riverside High School; Don Fosselman, soccer, Parkersburg (West Virginia) High School; Thomas Gladd, golf, Voorheesville (New York) Clayton A. Bouton High School; Robert Gonzales, wrestling, Manhattan (Kansas) High School; Thomas Loy, track and field - outdoor, East Canton (Ohio) High School; Charles Nelson, tennis, Florence (South Carolina) West Florence High School; Butch Pedersen, football (11-player), West Branch (Iowa) High School; Craig Phillips, baseball, Fort Plain (New York) Central School; and Michael Venos, swimming and diving, Bloomfield Hills (Michigan) Brother Rice High School.

The recipients of the 2017 NFHS national awards for girls sports are: Michael Ahrens, swimming and diving, Bettendorf (Iowa) High School; Bruce Cooper, golf, Hoisington (Kansas) High School; Janet Frazier, volleyball, Elizabeth (West Virginia) Wirt County High School; Johnette Goldman, cross country, Heber Springs (Arkansas) High School; Gwyneth Pinta, lacrosse, Columbus (Ohio) Upper Arlington High School; David Rosenthal, soccer, Iowa City (Iowa) Iowa City West High School; Kevin Ryan, track and field - outdoor, Bellingham (Washington) Sehome High School; Karen Self, basketball, Chandler (Arizona) Seton Catholic Prep; Kristie Stevens, tennis, Tucson (Arizona) Catalina Foothills High School; and Gene Victor, softball – fast pitch, Albuquerque (New Mexico) Cibola High School.

The recipient of the National Coach of the Year Award for spirit is Jeffrey Siegal of Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School. John Todd, a lacrosse coach at Hingham (Massachusetts) High School, was chosen in the “other” category for boys sports, and Ann Naughton, a field hockey coach at Saint James (New York) Smithtown High School East was chosen in the “other” category for girls sports.

The NFHS has a contact in each state who is responsible for selecting deserving coach award recipients. This person often works with the state coaches’ association in his or her respective state. He or she contacts the potential state award recipients to complete a coach profile form that requests information regarding the coach’s record, membership in and affiliation with coaching and other professional organizations, involvement with other school and community activities and programs, and coaching philosophy. To be approved as an award recipient and considered for sectional and national coach of the year consideration, this profile form must be completed by the coach or designee and then approved by the executive director (or designee) of the state athletic/activities association.

The next award level after state coach of the year is sectional coach of the year. The NFHS is divided into eight geographical sections. They are as follows: Section 1 – Northeast (CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT); Section 2 – Mideast (DE, DC, KY, MD, OH, PA, VA, WV); Section 3 – South (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN); Section 4 – Central (IL, IN, IA, MI, WI); Section 5 – Midwest (KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD); Section 6 – Southwest (AR, CO, NM, OK, TX); Section 7 – West (AZ, CA, HI, NV, UT); and Section 8 – Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY).

The NFHS Coaches Association has an advisory committee composed of a chair and eight sectional representatives. The sectional committee representatives evaluate the state award recipients from the states in their respective sections and select the best candidates for the sectional award in each sport category. The NFHS Coaches Association Advisory Committee then considers the sectional candidates in each sport, ranks them according to a point system, and determines a national winner for each of the 20 sport categories, the spirit category and two “other” categories.

A total of 667 coaches will be recognized this year with state, sectional and national awards.

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