INDIANAPOLIS – Legendary coach Harry Marra has been named USA Track & Field’s 2012 Nike Coach of the Year, USATF announced Wednesday. Marra will be honored during the Jesse Owens Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, December 1, as part of the USATF Annual Meeting in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The combined events coach for the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite, Marra coached 2012 Jesse Owens Award winner Ashton Eaton to two world records, a World Indoor title and an Olympic gold medal in 2012 – all in just three competitions.
“Coach Marra’s passion for the sport of track & field goes beyond what he does with athletes on the track,” said USATF CEO Max Siegel. “He is a person who truly gives back and works to grow our sport. It was great to see him and the athletes he coaches enjoy the unprecedented success they achieved this year.”
“This year has been great,” Marra, 65, said. “Getting an award like this is a direct reflection on the athletes. For me being the age I am, thanks needs to go to every athlete I have coached and to all the mentors I had as a young coach and athlete coming up. I’m also very thankful to Nike and to USA Track & Field.”
Eaton’s 2012 season will mostly be remembered for the world record he set in the decathlon at a rain-soaked Hayward Field at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Ore. He set world decathlon records in the 100m and long jump in the process before running a personal best in the 1,500m to set the world record of 9,039 points. Eaton then went on to London and claimed Olympic gold. His season also included setting the world record for the third consecutive year in the heptathlon in winning the World Indoor title and winning a USA Indoor championship in the long jump.
“Coach Marra has proven to be a true athlete-centered coach,” said Nike VP, Global Running/Track & Field Sports Marketing John Capriotti. “His ability to get his athletes to perform at their peak level speaks to his technical expertise and also his ability to work as a partner with an athlete to break new barriers. He has been among the best in the world for years and will continue to be for years to come.”
“Ashton had a great year, and the biggest thing to me is that he handled things extremely well,” Marra said, who also spent ten years as the head track and field coach at San Francisco State and ten years as the USA national decathlon team coach. “Looking back on Ashton’s season I thought maybe I would be considered for this, but it was nothing I expected. I am in this for the kids. If it happens great, but I am here for the athletes I coach. As a coach I never put myself in front of the athletes.”
"Sometimes I wonder if I'm working as hard as coach Marra," Eaton said. "He is at the track at least an hour before Brianne (Theisen) and I setting up our day. He knows everyone in the sport and knows everything about the multi-events. He helped me become the greatest athlete in the world. He's such a great guy and devotes so much of himself to us that I want to do well for him."
Marra’s top athletes also include NCAA indoor pentathlon record holder Theisen, Paul Terek, Sheldon Blockburger, Bart Goodell, Paul Foxon, Brian Brophy and Steve Koel.
The Nike Coach of the Year Award has been given annually since 1998. A list of past winners can be found here.