2020 National High School Boys & Girls Track & Field Coaches of the Year
NEW ORLEANS — Devon Hind of Hoover (Ala.) High School and Paul Scruggs of Panther Creek (N.C.) High School were quick to point out two things that other coaches can do to follow their lead as the National High School Boys and Girls Track & Field Coaches of the Year Presented by the United States Marine Corps: Assemble a strong coaching staff and see value in each event.
Both Hind and Scruggs, who were honored on Tuesday for their teams’ incredible indoor seasons by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) and the Marine Corps, surround themselves – and their athletes – with assistants who know what it takes to compete at an elite level and also stress the importance of a team mindset.
TRACK & FIELD COACHES OF THE YEAR HISTORY
|YEAR||BOYS WINNER||GIRLS WINNER||STATES|
Pickerington Central HS (Ohio)
DeSoto HS (Texas)
East Canton HS (Ohio)
St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.)
The Woodlands HS (Texas)
Lee’s Summit West (Mo.)
Catholic HS (Louisiana)
Bishop Kelly HS (Idaho)
Wayzata HS (Minnesota)
Northwestern HS (Fla.)
Hinds AHS (Mississippi)
Summit HS (Oregon)
For Hind’s Buccaneers, that balanced approach led them to a plethora of state titles over the past eight years. Dating back to 2013, Hoover has topped the podium 11 times between indoor and outdoor track & field, including each of the past four indoor seasons in Class 7A.
“Our goal is to win state every year,” said Hind, who just completed his 18th season at Hoover High School. “There is a level of commitment that needs to be had to do that and we get that from our athletes and coaches. They don’t take competing or coaching at Hoover lightly.”
Just this past indoor season, the Bucs romped to a 25.5-point win at the state meet held in early February at the Birmingham CrossPlex (Final score: Hoover 114.5, Thompson 89). Hoover qualified athletes in 14 finals and scored in 12 of those, including multiple scorers in the 60 (1 & 3), 400 (1 & 3), long jump (1 & 2), pole vault (3 & 6) and triple jump (1 & 2).
“You have to realize that the shot put counts just as much as the 60-meter dash,” Hind said. “Everybody usually just focuses on their team’s specialty. We try to focus on every event. It’s not about winning events. I mean, it’s nice to do that – but it’s about scoring points. All of those third, fourth and sixth places add up at the end of the meet.”
Hoover did turn in some incredible individual and relay efforts at the state meet, though. In sweeping the horizontal jumps, those three athletes who were involved in that feat – LJ Hill, J’Marri McCall and John Watkins – all PR’d in those events, namely Watkins with his 48-10½ triple jump that ranked him fifth nationally. Not to be outdone, the Bucs’ 4×200 relay team went 1:28.50 to win that crown and ended the season nationally ranked alongside Watkins at fifth.
“We had a great season in the sprints and jumps and all of that credit goes to my assistant coaches, like Carl Floyd and Mark Ruffin,” Hind said. “They get their athletes ready to compete when the chips are on the table and it’s really fun to watch that.”
Scruggs and the Catamounts know a thing or two (or three) about seeing their own dot the national leaderboard. Actually, they’ve grown accustomed to it with Morgan Smalls on the team.
Smalls, who will attend the University of Southern California and compete with the Women of Troy beginning this winter, ended her final prep campaign ranked first nationally in both the high jump (6-0) and triple jump (42-10), and second in the long jump at 20-2½. Last year at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championship, she soared 6-2¼ in the high jump to become the second best prep performer in the event since 2010.
“You see other coaches and people go up to her and ask her who coaches her and she just points over to us,” said Scruggs, who just completed his fifth year at Panther Creek High School. “Then it’s like they don’t believe her and ask again. She’ll do the same thing.”
“I think we built a great staff,” Scruggs continued. “One of our assistants, Vince Brown, is actually in your Coaches Hall of Fame (Class of 2005). We got lucky that a former Big Ten long jump champion moved into the area and asked if he could help out (Korbin Smith), so he’s our sprints and horizontal jumps guy. And then Casey (Bagaasen) and I kind of do a co-head coach thing and she’s fantastic.”
Smalls, however, is a major reason as to why the Catamounts won back-to-back Class 4A outdoor state titles in 2018 and 2019 and then captured their first indoor crown this past February at the JDL Fast Track. She scored 35 of Panther Creek’s 69 points with victories in the high jump (5-10¾), long jump (19-8½) and triple jump (41-7¾) and a fourth-place effort in the 300 (40.07).
“A lot of people want to point to what Morgan does – and it’s a lot – but they forget that our other girls scored just as many points, too,” Scruggs said. “You hear them say, ‘They have Morgan Smalls. Of course they won.’ But that couldn’t be further from the truth. What about Susanna Truitt or Kelly Smith or Courtney Johnson or Julia Patterson?”
The Catamounts entered athletes in 10 events at the state meet, scoring in eight of those (three on the track, five in the field). Truitt added an individual title in the pole vault at 11-6. Smith contributed 12 points with a runner-up PR showing in the long jump and a fifth-place PR effort in the triple jump. Johnson and Patterson finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 3200 to add seven important points to the final tally.
“Success breeds success,” said Scruggs, whose boys team also won the state title as co-champs. “When one athlete sees another athlete putting in the work or an event group sees another event group putting in the work or another team sees another team putting in the work, it makes them want to work that much harder so they don’t let each other down.”
ABOUT THE USTFCCCA
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is a non-profit professional organization representing cross country and track & field coaches of all levels. The organization represents over 11,000 coaching members encompassing 98-percent of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA and NJCAA, as well as a number of state high school coaches associations. The USTFCCCA serves as an advocate for cross country and track & field coaches, providing a leadership structure to assist the needs of a diverse membership, serving as a lobbyist for coaches’ interests, and working as a liaison between the various stakeholders in the sports of cross country and track & field.
ABOUT THE MARINES
You don’t join the Marines. You become one. Ours is a noble path and demanding journey reserved for those with the willingness to engage and determination to defeat all mental, moral, and physical requirements to become Marines. In or out of uniform, it’s the fighting spirit found inside every Marine that drives them to victory.
The United States Marine Corps recognizes the role of coaches, educators, mentors and parents who inspire that fighting spirit. The Marines are excited to help USTFCCCA motivate high achieving student-athletes and to assist with keeping them on the path of success.
To learn more about partnering with the Marines in your local community, please visit connect.marines.com.