U.S. Olympic Committee announces finalists for Coach of the Year awards
Christy Cahill
(719) 866-2143
April 04, 2012 1:28 PM
Indianapolis to host 2012 National Coaching Conference in June
 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee today unveiled finalists for the 2011 USOC Coach of the Year awards. Three finalists were selected for each category, including National Coach of the Year, Paralympic Coach of the Year, Developmental Coach of the Year, Volunteer Coach of the Year and the Doc Councilman Science Award.
 
All five recipients will be announced during a welcome reception on Tuesday, June 19, as part of the 2012 National Coaching Conference at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis.
 
U.S. Olympic, Paralympic and Pan American sports organizations selected their 2011 Coaches of the Year as part of the USOC Coach of the Year Recognition Program. The finalists in each category were chosen by a panel of coaching and sport education professionals. Information on all finalists can be found below.
 
The 2011 finalists:
 
National Coach of the Year
Rick Bower – Snowboarding
Adam Soldati – Diving
Marina Zoueva – Figure Skating
 
Paralympic Coach of the Year
Joaquim Cruz – Track and Field
Dave Denniston – Swimming
Matt Oberholtz – Water Skiing
 
Developmental Coach of the Year
Chris Haslock – Skiing
James Hrbek – Judo
Jill Rankin Schneider – Basketball
 
Volunteer Coach of the Year
Jimmy Cuevas – Paralympic Track and Field
Chris Preble – Bowling
Tom Waqa – Rugby
 
Doc Counsilman Science Award
Nicholas Bohanan – Bowling
Neal Henderson – Cycling
Christine Krall – Figure Skating
 
2012 National Coaching Conference
The 2012 National Coaching Conference will take place in Indianapolis from June 19-21. Coaches, coach educators, organizations and sport science professionals from around the country will gather at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis to share research and new ideas. The theme of the 2012 conference is “Sports – Take Part, Get Set for Life.”
 
Presiding as the keynote speakers for this year’s event are Dr. Darren Treasure, author of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Fundamentals of Coaching course and performance director for the Oregon Project, and Dr. Stephen Norris, vice president of sport at WinSport Canada. Complete information on the conference can be found here. 
 
Hosted by the USOC in association with the NCAA, NFHS and National Association for Sport and Physical Education, the annual conference focuses on enhancing coaching knowledge and disseminating the latest research, trends and innovations in order to develop beginner to elite athletes for optimum performance. USOC, National Governing Body, university and sport professionals will be presenting on topics based on the National Standards for Sport Coaches.
 
Conference registration is available here with discounted early registration available until April 15.
 
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National Coach of the Year Finalists
The National Coach of the Year is a coach of an elite-level club, collegiate or national-level team, or the coach of an elite athlete who competes at the highest level of his/her sport. Coaches must be actively coaching or within one year of retirement to be eligible for the award.
 
Rick Bower – Snowboarding
Currently in his sixth year as coach of the U.S. Halfpipe Team, Rick Bower has played an integral role in the advancement of women’s snowboarding. In 2011, Bower led his athletes to 31 major event podiums and took snowboarding to new heights by helping Kelly Clark become the first female to land a 1080 in competition at the Winter X-Games. This achievement, at the pinnacle of snowboarding events for the year, had a monumental influence on up-and-coming female athletes and the progression of snowboarding within their gender. For his efforts, Bower was recognized as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association International Coach of the Year and USSA International Snowboarding Coach of the Year.

Internationally renowned as one of the best technical and innovative coaches in his field, Bower’s success is rooted in his ability to develop athletes from beginner to elite status with an emphasis on the athlete-coach relationship. Bower efficiently leads athletes through safe progressions, allowing them to learn several new skills during a competition cycle. His technical expertise helped Clark claim titles in every major event in 2011, en route to earning USSA Snowboarding Athlete of the Year honors.
 
Adam Soldati – Diving
Adam Soldati served as a coach for the U.S. Diving Team at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China, where he led David Boudia in becoming the first U.S. male to medal on 10-meter at a World Championships since 1986. A three-time USA Diving Athlete of the Year, Boudia earned the silver medal on the strength of a personal-best international score, a U.S. record score at a world championships and the highest scoring dive by an American in the 10-meter platform at a world championships.

Soldati’s synchronized diving and training programs have solidified him as a leader in USA Diving. His unique approach encourages athletes to partner with similar skill-level divers, and promotes collaboration and shared knowledge amongst coaches around the country. Furthermore, Soldati has been a strong proponent of synchronized diving and its influence on individual performances and stress management during competition. Due to his success and proactive implementation of synchronized diving with his athletes, USA Diving now has twice as many synchronized diving entries at the national championships than ever before.
 
Marina Zoueva – Figure Skating
One of the leading figure skating coaches and choreographers in the world, Marina Zoueva guided U.S. Figure Skating teams to 17 top-three finishes in 2011, including gold medal-winning performances at the ISU World Championships, U.S. championships and ISU Grand Prix Final.  For her success, Zoueva was lauded as the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Coach and Choreographer of the Year. Zoueva’s ability to maintain innovation and achieve the highest level of technical difficulty within a program has truly made an impact on the sport and serves as a model for others around the world to follow.

Paralympic Coach of the Year Finalists
The Paralympic Coach of the Year is
a coach of an elite-level club, collegiate or national-level team, or the coach of an elite athlete who competes at the highest level of his/her sport. Coaches must be actively coaching or within one year of retirement to be eligible for the award.

Joaquim Cruz – Track and Field
In 2006, Joaquim Cruz arrived at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to assume the role as resident coach of the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Team. What began as a fledging program has since developed a prominent string of Paralympic athletes under Cruz’ direction. At the 2011 World Championships, his athletes collected three medals, including one silver and two bronzes, before earning nine trips to the podium at the 2011 Parapan American Games, highlighted by five gold medal-winning performances. A 1984 gold medalist from Brazil, Cruz also serves as a member of two Brazilian advisory boards for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Dave Denniston – Swimming
In his second year as a U.S. Paralympics resident swimming coach at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Dave Denniston was selected to lead Team USA at the Pan-Pacific Para-Swimming Championships. In 2011, fourteen out of Denniston’s sixteen athletes were selected to major international teams and consistently exceled on the world stage. Among the select few, Jessica Long collected nine gold medals in nine events, including seven individual and two as a member of relay teams, while shattering four world records. At the beginning of this year, eight of Denniston’s athletes made the U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Team and two made the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Emerging Team.
 
A 2008 U.S. Paralympian, Denniston also conducts speaking engagements to share his journey form an able-bodied Olympic hopeful to a Paralympic athlete turned mentor. His experience has allowed him to integrate his team practices with elite able-bodied team practices, helping assist athletes on both teams to reach higher goals. Under his direction, the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Team has grown in national prominence as he works with Swimming World Magazine to promote awareness and interest in the sport.
 
Matt Oberholtz – Water Skiing
The 2011 National Coach of the Year, Matt Oberholtz led the U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team to the world team gold medal and five individual U.S. team medals at the 2011 Disabled Water Ski World Championships. Overall, Team USA earned 13 trips to the podium, collecting an additional five silvers and three bronzes at the biennial event.
 
For the 10th straight year, Oberholtz served as co-director of the 2011 Western Disabled Regionals. With the concurrence of the U.S. team, he agreed to provide water time and coaching to Australian and French team members as well. This unselfish gesture allowed other competitors to adjust to different water conditions and contributed to their success.
 
Developmental Coach of the Year Finalists
The Developmental Coach of the Year coaches at the youth club, high school or junior level, or is directly responsible for coaching athletes to the junior and/or elite level. Coaches must be actively coaching or within one year of retirement to be eligible for the award.
 
Chris Haslock – Skiing
Chris Haslock was named the 2011 Domestic Coach of the Year by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. He won the honors for freestyle skiing before being selected for the top domestic coaching honor by USSA among nominees from alpine, Nordic and snowboarding. Haslock coached two athletes in New Zealand at the 2011 Junior World Championships in slopestyle and halfpipe skiing. In his second year directing the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team, he saw 19 of his athletes compete at junior national championships with 11 winning medals.

Haslock has been a major factor in keeping freestyle skiing alive and progressive. In his current program, AXIS Freeride, Haslock foresaw the evolution of freestyle skiing into the disciplines of slopestyle and halfpipe, and the need for programming for these disciplines, now part of the Olympic Winter Games debuting in Sochi. He is an active member of the USSA Freeskiing Sports Committee and chaired the Freeskiing Development Subcommittee as the new freeskiing disciplines came into the fold. His concept was to start a grassroots club to develop both recreational and competitive athletes from a young age. His goal is to give young athletes freestyle skills and a love of skiing for life. He has strived to make his programs as accessible as possible for the local community.

James Hrbek – Judo
Devoted to building the sport of judo in the United States, James Hrbek scours the world to find unique judo tournaments and training opportunities for young Americans to gain international experience. In 2011, Hrbek coordinated the entire junior program for USA Judo, fielding U.S. teams for dozens of national and international tournaments, assembling U.S. contingents in excess of 50 people.
 
As chairman of USA Judo's Junior Athlete Performance Committee, Hrbek created a database of parents, coaches and athletes that he can easily integrate for use in various judo activities. It is Hrbek’s belief that if properly educated, U.S. junior athletes will have the knowledge to one day become successful coaches themselves, an essential step in building the sport nationally. Exemplary of his dedication, Hrbek compiles scouting reports of highly-touted foreign rivals in the weeks leading up to important competitions, enhancing the education of his young athletes discovering how to prepare for world-class events.

Jill Rankin Schneider – Basketball
Jill Rankin Schneider was honored as the 2011 USA Basketball Co-Developmental Coach of the Year following the USA Basketball U16 National Team’s impressive 5-0, gold-medal performance at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Merida, Mexico. The first-place finish also qualified the U.S. for the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship. Under Rankin Schneider’s direction, the 2011 team set five U.S. U16 women’s single-game records, including field goals attempted (95), free throws attempted (32), rebounds (83), assists (32) and blocked shots (12).

An Olympian (1980), four-time USA Basketball gold medalist and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Rankin Schneider has evolved her impressive list of accomplishments as a basketball player into a coaching career that takes advantage of her wealth of experience and knowledge. In a short amount of time, she prepared the 2011 USA Women’s U16 National Team for its international competition, as well as the international rules it was to face in the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Her success in that task was obvious in the tournament’s results, with the USA dominating the competition. As a high school head coach, Schneider’s list of honors is equally impressive. Three times she has been selected by her peers as the Texas District 2-5A Coach of the Year (2000, 2002, 2004), and in 2000 and 2011 she was chosen All-South Plains 4A/5A Coach of the Year by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and as a Texas All-Star Game coach by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.

Volunteer Coach of the Year Finalists
The Volunteer Coach of the Year is a coach who does not receive payment in any form for his/her involvement in coaching at any level. The award winner must be actively coaching or within one year of retirement.

Jimmy Cuevas – Paralympic Track & Field
Jimmy Cuevas directed two U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Team athletes – Gianfranco Iannotta, who won three medals at the 2011 Parapan American Games and Ray Martin, who won four medals at the 2011 Parapan American Games.
Cuevas also coached at the junior level, leading his team to the National Junior Disability Championships every year since 2008, helping further awareness and participation in the sport.
Cuevas was selected for the U.S. Parapan American Games staff as a personal care attendant and assistant coach. He also serves as director of the North Jersey Navigators Paralympic Sport Club, where he volunteers his time as a mentor and primary fundraiser. The objective of the program is to provide recreational and sports opportunities to children with disabilities. Every disabled child that aspires to compete is encouraged to participate, regardless of disability, ethnic or social background.

Chris Preble – Bowling
Chris Preble directed the Fresno State men’s bowling team to its first national championship in 2011 behind the strength of All-American and runner-up Intercollegiate Player of the Year Greg Geering. In his spare time, Preble provided voluntary instruction at the Bowl for Kids Sake program in Fresno, Calif., to help inspire up-and-coming bowlers to compete at the collegiate level.
 
A U.S. Bowling Congress bronze level coach, Preble is not only a beloved mentor but is also highly revered amongst his peers. He is respected as a key focal point within the collegiate bowling community and serves as a member of the USBC Collegiate Advisory Council. In this role, Preble is charged with providing a valuable sounding board for the National Governing Body while helping make decisions to impact the sport of bowling across the nation.
Tom Waqa – Rugby
Currently in his eighth season as the Brigham Young University women’s rugby coach, Tomasi Waqa has played a key role in molding an unsponsored and formerly unrecognized team into a nationally ranked formidable force. The Fiji native has helped produce All-American nominees in each of his seven seasons, highlighted by 2011 honorees Kristi Jackson, Monica Jackson and Rebekah Siebach, who propelled the Cougars to the Final Four. He also helps identify young talent to compete in the Under-20 National All-Star Championships, which routinely produce scouting opportunities for U.S. national teams.

The synergy that Waqa fosters in his teams has inspired the growth of rugby in the Provo, Utah, community and throughout the nation. Each semester the club welcomes approximately 20 new members, which marks a big improvement from the past, when they would struggle to field a team of 15 for a full season. In turn, these young women have inspired friends, family and future athletes with their passion to help raise awareness and advance the sport. In addition to coaching the BYU women’s team, Waqa also volunteers as the Humless men’s rugby coach while balancing his responsibilities as president of the Utah Fiji Association and an active member of the LDS Church.
 
Doc Counsilman Science Award Finalists
The "Doc" Counsilman Science Award is for a coach who utilizes scientific techniques and equipment as an integral part of his/her coaching methods or has created innovative ways to use sport science.

Nicholas Bohanan – Bowling
Utilizing the functional movement screen and balance testing, Nicholas Bohanan enhanced the ability to evaluate athletic performance and mechanics, thus greatly decreasing the potential for injury to athletes. The screen and testing provided the ability to determine and describe the strength and limitations in physical game capabilities, as well as provide corrective exercises to improve movement patterns and reduce the risk of bowling-related injuries. He also teamed with colleagues at the Bowling International Training and Research Center to develop a talent-identification protocol to help collegiate coaches analyze and recruit high school bowlers. In addition to presenting at the 2011 International Bowl Expo and Coaches Summit, Bohanan also published monthly articles highlighting training and nutrition in US Bowler magazine and developed an online coach-peer review program, which launched in early 2012.
 
The sports performance specialist for the U.S. Bowling Congress, Bohanan serves as the athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach for the men’s and women’s national teams and the junior development team. At the 2011 World Women’s Championships, Bohanan helped Team USA capture its first team gold medal in 24 years while also collecting three gold and three bronze medals in individual competition. His impact involved minimalizing the negative effects of low back injuries that allowed athletes to continue to compete and contribute in the final two events of competition. For the second consecutive year, he was named a top-100 coach by Bowlers Journal International.
 
Neal Henderson – Cycling
Neal Henderson has been at the forefront of applying scientific principles in the lab and on the field to improve athlete performance. During the 2010-11 season, Henderson formulated additional tools and protocols for aerodynamic drag analysis, which helped determine the specific power required for cyclists to attain a given speed. The results helped pace Team USA to the silver medal at the 2011 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. Later that summer, Henderson continued aerodynamic testing to help identify the best wheel combinations for U.S. cyclists competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

A rare, dual-certified elite U.S cycling and U.S. triathlon coach, Henderson has been instrumental in establishing training methods based on exercise physiology, including supplemental oxygen training and a computrainer program for junior cyclists at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. The program streamlines calorimetry testing to identify substrate utilization during exercise coupled with blood lactate analysis to help long-distance endurance athletes. Henderson shared his findings during a two-day technique instruction at the 2011 USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Christine Krall – Figure Skating
Christine Krall has been at the forefront of using video analysis and biomechanics technology to effectively instruct athletes how to best modify their technique. Renowned as a forerunner of U.S. Figure Skating’s Sports Sciences and Medicine Committee, Krall’s expertise has proven instrumental in giving athletes a competitive edge. Always in tune to the latest training and injury prevention methods, Krall was the recipient of the 2011 PSA/U.S. Figure Skating Pieter Kollen Sports Science Coaching Award.
Her work in science and technology became manifest in 2011 world champion Patrick Chan, who was attracted to Krall’s coaching style based on her strong technical talents and biomechanics analysis.
 
Krall was at the head of a new movement of sports science when she served as national program director at U.S. Figure Skating from 1996 to 2002. She oversaw USOC research grants to advance sports science with figure skating and fostered U.S. Figure Skating’s relationship with its new Sports Sciences and Medicine Committee.

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