USTFCCCA’s Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Represents Leadership, Success

By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA

August 6, 2010   

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Friday the six inductees that will be enshrined in the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame later this year. From some of the early leaders and pioneers of the sport to those who have seen more recent success, the Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is uniquely qualified for induction. The group has won numerous conference titles and a total of 25 collegiate national championships.

View the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame | 2009 Release | USTFCCCA Convention

Coaches selected to be inducted in the Class of 2010 are Cleve Abbott (Tuskegee), Jeanette Bolden (UCLA), Chick Hislop (Weber State), Bert Lyle (Texas Woman’s University), Jack Toms (Lynchburg), and Doug Watts (Edinboro).

The 2010 Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held December 15 at the USTFCCCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

“Major” Cleveland “Cleve” Leigh Abbott

Cleve Abbott Cleve Abbott was a pioneer of track & field and of collegiate sport in general in the first half of the 20th century. Not only was Abbott a successful track & field coach, leading Tuskegee Institute’s women’s squad to 14 AAU national outdoor titles, but he was also the school’s Director of Physical Education and Athletics for over 30 years and, at one time, coached all of the department’s intercollegiate teams.

Abbott was hired by Tuskegee’s Booker T. Washington shortly after graduating from then-South Dakota State College in 1915 to teach agricultural history. Suddenly, in 1917, Abbott voluntarily left the school to join the U.S. Army where he later served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. In 1923, Abbott rejoined Tuskegee, where he was hired to lead the athletics program.

In terms of track & field, Abbott’s contributions to the sport were vast. In 1927, Abbott founded the Tuskegee Relays, and, two years later, Abbott initiated the Women’s Sports Carnival. Abbott’s Tigerettes won 14 AAU National team titles, including eight in a row, and added 65 individual-event indoor and outdoor national crowns from 1937 to 1950.

Abbott mentored numerous legends in the sport, including Alice Coachman, Nell Jackson, Barbara Jacket, Evelyn Lawler, and Mildred McDaniel.

Coachman, a 25-time national champion, famously became the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold, doing so with an Olympic- and American-record high jump clearance of 5 feet, 6 1/8 inches at the 1948 London Games. Jackson, also a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1948, would set the American record of 24.2 in the 200 meters in 1949 and, with appointments in 1956 and 1972, was the first African-American female to coach an Olympic Team. Jackson is also a member of the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame. Jacket, a 2001 inductee into the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame, led Prairie View A&M to 10 NAIA national team titles and 22 SWAC league championships and was also the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team Coach. Lawler, the mother of Carl and Carol Lewis, was an established hurdler, having tied the American 80-meter hurdle mark in 1950 and then setting the Western-hemisphere mark of 11.3 seconds in 1951. McDaniel, a five-time national high jump champion, set the world record in the high jump at 5-9¼ in capturing Olympic gold at the 1956 Melbourne Games. All told, a total of six of Abbott’s athletes were members of U.S. Olympic Teams.

In addition to his coaching duties, Abbott served on the women’s committee of the National AAU and twice served on the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Committee.

Until his death in 1955, Abbott was a trailblazer in many areas of sport. In 32 years as Tuskegee’s football coach, Abbott tallied a 202-97-27 (.661) coaching record, which included six undefeated seasons and six black college football national championships as named by the Pittsburgh Courier. Abbott was also a founding member of the National Intramural and Recreation Sports Association (NIRSA), and is a member of five halls of fame.

Jeanette Bolden

Jeanette BoldenWith three NCAA and 10 Pac-10 Conference team titles in the bank, Jeanette Bolden has guided her alma mater – the UCLA women’s track & field program – to the top of the national stage. Having devoted 17 seasons at the helm of the Bruin team, Bolden has guided over 50 of UCLA’s sprinters, hurdlers, and relay runners to USTFCCCA All-America status, five of which have won individual national crowns.

With an NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship team title in 2004, Bolden was named the USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year. In that same year, Bolden’s squad won the Pac-10 Conference title for the 10th time under her guidance. The team’s NCAA Indoor Track & Field crowns in 2000 and 2001 were the firsts ever won by the women’s program at UCLA. Bolden’s Bruins placed in the nation’s top three at the NCAA Outdoor Championships ten times in a 12-year stretch from 1994 to 2005. Bolden also has a 73-2 dual-meet coaching record and had a team that was the nation’s best in dual meets for nine years.

Bolden has coached some of the best female quarter-miler sprinters and hurdlers of the past decade, including Monique Henderson, Sheena Johnson, and Nicole Leach. Henderson, a member of the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalist 4×400-meter relay teams, was the 2005 NCAA 400-meter champion and a nine-time All-American. Johnson, now Sheena Tosta, won Olympic silver in the 400 hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Games and was the fourth-place finisher in the same event at the Athens Games in 2004. Johnson won NCAA titles in the 400 hurdles in 2003 and 2004 and was a nine-time Pac-10 Champ. Leach, the 2007 and 2009 400-meter NCAA Champion, reached the semifinals of the 2007 IAAF World Championships in the same event and was on the U.S. junior 4×400 team that won gold at the 2006 IAAF World Junior Championships.

Bolden, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team Coach, was twice an Olympian herself, becoming the first head coach in U.S. Olympic history to have won an Olympic medal as an athlete. At the 1984 Los Angeles games, Bolden won gold as a member of the American 4×100-meter squad and was a fourth-place finisher in the 100 meters. At UCLA, Bolden was a five-time All-American, and her 1986 run of 6.54 in the 60-yard dash still stands as the co-world record. In addition, Bolden holds all-time collegiate bests indoors in the 50 yards and 50 meters.

Bolden is executive director and coordinator of the Jeanette Bolden Asthma and Allergy Track Clinic and a member of the Board of Directors for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.

Charles “Chick” Hislop

Chick HislopWith 38 years as head track & field and cross country coach at Weber State University, now-retired Chick Hislop still holds the title as the longest tenured coach in the Big Sky Conference in any sport. Leading the Wildcats to 21 total Big Sky Conference titles, including seven in cross country, Hislop also earned USTFCCCA National Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 1991 as his men’s squad placed fourth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The Wildcats finished in the top 20 at the NCAA Cross Country Championships nine times during his coaching tenure.

In addition to these successes in cross country, Hislop is one of the foremost authorities in the United States on steeplechase training and technique. At the Olympic Games in 1984 and 1996, Hislop served as a presented on the steeplechase to the International Coaches Convention. In the summer of 1996, he served as an Assistant Coach for the U.S. Men’s Track and Field Team at the Atlanta Olympic Games, where he was the event coach of the U.S. long-distance runners.

Under Hislop’s tutelage, 26 Wildcats earned 46 USTFCCCA All-America honors, including Farley Gerber who won the NCAA steeplechase crown in 1984 in a then-American record of 8:19.27. Charles Clinger, another of Hislop’s pupils, swept NCAA high jump titles in 2001 with national titles at both indoor and outdoor championships. In May of that year, Clinger recorded the year’s best jump by an American with a clearance of 7-8½ (2.35m).

Hislop is a graduate of Utah State and Weber Junior College. At Weber JC, Hislop was a Junior College All-American in the two mile run. In addition to his coaching duties, Hislop served on the NCAA Rules Committee for seven years and was the Chair of the Cross Country Championships for four years. In 1985, Hislop served as the U.S. Sports Ambassador to Colombia.

Bert Lyle

Bert LyleBert Lyle, an important figure in the early years of women’s collegiate athletics, was the head track & field coach and athletic director at Texas Woman’s University from 1965 to 1988. A 1994 inductee of the school’s athletics hall of fame, Lyle led the Pioneers to three AIAW National Championships, including the first-ever AIAW Championship in 1969, and two U.S. Track & Field Federation team titles. Lyle’s squads finished in the top three of the AIAW standings in each of the first seven years of competition, and during the 15-year history of the AIAW, Texas Woman’s 465 total team points was second only to UCLA.

Lyle was the women’s sprint and relay coach for the U.S. Olympic Team at the 1992 Barcelona Games. During his career, Lyle also served as the U.S. Olympic Sprint Development Committee Chair, the USATF Women’s Elite Sprint Coordinator, and the USATF Junior Development Committee Chair for sprints.

Lyle coached athletes include Louise Ritter, a three-time Olympic high jumper and gold medalist at the 1988 Seoul Games, and Leleith Hodges, a two-time Olympian representing Jamaica.

In 2005, Lyle was presented with USA Track & Field’s (USATF) Giegengack Award for outstanding contributions to the development and success of USA Track & Field, and the larger community of the sport. USATF again honored Lyle in 2007 with the Heliodoro and Patricia Rico Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lyle, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War, earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University, his master’s degree from Southern Methodist University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

Jack Toms

Jack TomsLynchburg’s Jack Toms, who recently retired as the school’s track & field and cross country coach, undoubtedly went out on top. By sweeping Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) indoor and outdoor track & field titles in 2010, Toms captured his 47th and 48th league track & field titles and his 61st and 62nd overall.

In coaching at his alma mater for 31 years, Toms produced 87 USTFCCCA All-Americans and 12 NCAA Champions. Toms’ men’s track & field teams swept conference indoor and outdoor competitions on six occasions, all of which have occurred since 2004. He coached 10 USTFCCCA South/Southeast Regional Athletes of the Year and three USTFCCCA National Athletes of the Year. And, in 2009, Ricky Flynn won the NCAA Division III Cross Country individual title. Lynchburg won 14 ODAC Cross Country titles under Toms and made six appearances at the NCAA Cross Country Championships as a team, four of which came after his squad won NCAA regional titles. Add 24 ODAC titles each for indoor and outdoor track & field and it is no wonder that the school inducted him into their athletics hall of fame in 1988.

Since 1978, Toms has also served as Lynchburg College’s director of athletics where he has led the Hornets’ efforts to two ODAC Commissioner’s Cups. Altogether, Toms earned 25 USTFCCCA Regional Coach of the Year nods for cross country and track & field, and in 1995 he was named as a recipient of the Walt Cormack Award, recognizing the state of Virginia’s top track & field coach. Toms holds a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. from West Virginia University.

Douglas Watts

Doug WattsIn 41 years of coaching, Doug Watts has brought success to Edinboro at all levels in cross country and track & field. All told Watts, who began Edinboro’s program in 1969, has led the Running Scots to six national championships in cross country, including two NAIA national crowns in the 1970s and four NCAA Division II national championships in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990.  In five other instances, his men’s cross country team finished as national runner-up.

Watts has coached nine individual national champions in men’s cross country and track & field and has been recognized as the USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year five times. In fact, Watts’ men’s cross country team owns a current NCAA Division II record of having qualified 29 consecutive times for the national championships. His women’s cross country team has won the PSAC title 15 times in 24 seasons and finished in the top ten in the nation 11 times. Collectively, Edinboro’s cross country teams have experienced 37 consecutive undefeated cross country seasons in dual meets and has had a string of 133-straight dual victories.

At the 2009 USTFCCCA Convention, Watts was awarded the Jimmy Carnes Distinguished Service Award for his many years of service and dedication to the USTFCCCA and to Division II coaches in the sport as he went beyond the call of duty towards the advancement of the Association.

Watts has served the USTFCCCA and Division II Coaches for a number of years in a variety of positions, including as the Vice President of the Association, as a member of the USTFCCCA Board of Directors, and as a Division II Law & Legislation member. In recent years, he led the charge to revamp the Association’s bylaws and those of Division II following major changes in the structure of the Association in 2005. He was also a key player in the recent restructuring of Division II within the USTFCCCA. His leadership and expertise have helped ensure the future success of the Association and the sports of cross country and track & field.

Watts is a graduate of the University of Akron, where he also served as an assistant coach before coming to Edinboro.