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Neil Russo of Oregon named National Wrestling Coach of the Year by NFHS Coaches Association

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 7, 2013) — Twenty-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.

Neil Russo, coach of Newberg High School in Oregon, was named Wrestling Coach of the Year.

Other 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; 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.

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.

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.

In addition to the 22 National Coaches of the Year, the NFHS Coaches Association has selected Ginny Honomichl of Baldwin City, Kansas, as the recipient of the National Coach Contributor Award. This award is presented to an individual who has gone above and beyond and who exemplifies the highest standards of sportsmanship, ethical conduct and moral character, and who carries the endorsement of his or her respective state high school association. Honomichl is the longtime tennis coach at Baldwin City High School and former president of the NFHS Coaches Association.

The NFHS has a contact person in each state who is responsible for selecting deserving coach award recipients. This contact person often works with the state coaches’ association in their respective states. 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 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 one “other” category.

A total of 455 coaches will be recognized this year with state, sectional and national awards.

# # #

This press release was written by Barb Johnson, AIC, administrative assistant with the NFHS who works with the NFHS Coaches Association and the NFHS Coach Education Program.

About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.6 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS Web site at

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