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Lawrence Johnson named Nike Coach of the Year


INDIANAPOLIS -- Lawrence “Boogie” Johnson has been named USA Track & Field’s Nike Coach of the Year, the national governing body announced Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Johnson will be honored Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Indianapolis, Ind. The event is being held in conjunction with USATF’s Annual Meeting.

Johnson guided his standout athletes Brianna Rollins, Queen Harrison and Kristi Castlin to phenomenal 2013 seasons.

“It’s been a fantastic year for the group with what we were able to accomplish at USA Outdoors,” Johnson said. “It’s been amazing. To have three athletes in one of the most competitive finals at USAs, that was so exciting for us. To have two of them make Team USA and make the final at Worlds was incredible.”

Under Johnson’s tutelage, Rollins captured the 2013 USA Outdoor title in the 100H with an American record of 12.26, joining 2008 Olympian and fellow Johnson pupil Queen Harrison on the World Championship team.

“Brianna has been a four-year project in terms of getting her ready for what everyone saw in Moscow,” Johnson noted. “She constantly had injuries in college but we always talked about why these things happen and it’s the greater the test, the greater the testimony. If you can deal with adversity, you’ll be cool under pressure.

“Brianna basically won the World Championships last fall because of all the hard work she put in to have the season she did,” Johnson continued. “I’m so proud of where she has come in just a few years.”

Harrison made her second career World Championship team, finishing just outside medal contention in the 100mH. The 12.43 that put her on the Team USA delegation to Moscow was a personal best for the former Hokie, who switched her focus from the 400mH to the 100mH in recent years.

“Receiving this award is very humbling,” Johnson said. “If you look at the list of coaches that have preceded me, there are coaches who are very well-established and have coached phenomenal athletes who have been on the podium at the Olympics and Worlds. To be mentioned in the same sentence as these men and women, it’s a tremendous honor and I’m very humbled and appreciative of USA Track & Field and Nike.”

Johnson also coaches the 2012 USA Indoor 60mH champion and 2013 USA Indoor runner-up Kristi Castlin, who had eight top-three finishes in 2013.

“This is a team award because we all work so very hard to try and be the best at what we do,” Johnson finished. “They want to be the best athletes, I want to be the best coach, so we put our best foot forward and will continue to work daily to take steps towards greatness.”

The Nike Coach of the Year Award has been given annually since 1998. A list of past winners can be found here.

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