INDIANAPOLIS - Coaches Jim Tate of St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Ala., and Bob Nihells of Lake Park High School in Roselle, Ill., have been named the Gill Athletics National High School Coach of the Year for girls’ and boys’ teams.
Tate and Nihells will be recognized in an award ceremony on Saturday, June 25 at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., in front of more than 10,000 track and field fans. Both award recipients’ schools will receive $5,000 worth of Gill Athletics track & field equipment.
“High school track and field coaches are the backbone of the sport of track and field in the U.S.” says David Hodge, CEO of Gill Athletics. “Without their tireless work and dedication, the U.S. would not lead the world in the sport as it does. Gill Athletics is proud to recognize the great commitment of these coaches to our high school athletes.”
Tate has led the Saints to 57 girls’ state championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, as well as 22 second-place finishes. His girls’ cross country team set a national record when they won 16 consecutive state titles from 1983-1998. Tate also has coached 10 of his male and female athletes to 15 Alabama state records.
“The numbers reflect only a portion of the legacy Coach Tate imparts to each of his athletes,” said Tate’s co-worker and former athlete Lydia Johnson. “Tate is a gentle leader who turns teenagers into champions, young men and women into leaders, and instills a spirit of sportsmanship, service, and honor.”
Tate began working at St. Paul’s in 1978, and in his 34-year tenure has won numerous awards. He has been inducted into both the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was named the National High School Coaches’ Association Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year.
“It is a tremendous honor to me,”Tate said. “It is really a recognition of the success of our program that so any have had a part of — everyone in the St. Paul’s community can take pride in this award.”
Nihells has coached at Lake Park High School for 29 years, serving 18 years as the head coach and 10 as the throws coach. During his tenure, the Lancers have captured three state titles, including back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011, and four finishes in the top 10. Nihells’ athletes own state records in the shot put, discus and 200 meter dash.
“Bob has a passion for the kids and the sport of track and field that is extremely rare,” said co-worker Jay Ivory. “When Coach Nihells took over the head job some 29 years ago, it is fair to say that it was not really a track and field team... His relentless recruiting, passion and time
commitment turned the program into a track and field power.”
Nihells, who was named the 1997 Illinois Coach of the Year, has had more than 10 athletes go on to compete in college on athletic scholarships.
“I was shocked, and it was also a very humbling experience to receive this award,” Nihells said. “It is quite an honor to be named the regional winner, let alone the national winner.”
- Woody Barnett (Pearl High School) - Southeast Boys Winner
- David Emeott (East Kentwood High School) - Mid-Atlantic Boys Winner
- Daunte Gouge (King’s High School) - Western Boys Winner
- Bob Nihells (Lake Park High School) - Midwest Boys Winner
- Henry Phelan (Lincoln-Sadsbury Regional High School) - New England Girls Winner
- Juan Plaza (Calvary Baptist Academy) - Central Boys Winner
- Mike Potter (Warwick Valley High School) - New England Boys Winner
- Patrick Castagno (the Tatnall School) - Mid-Atlantic Girls Winner
- Rob DeFilippis (Red Bank Catholic High School) - Mid-Atlantic Girls Winner
- Ryan Krall (Colfax High School) - Midwest Girls Winner
- Richard Rucker (William Howard Taft High School) - Western Girls Winner
- Jim Tate (St. Paul’s Episcopal School) - Southeast Girls Winner
- Drew Yoakum (Fayetteville School District) - Central Girls Winner
For more information on the Gill Coach of the Year Program visit GillCoachOfTheYear.com
About Gill Athletics
Gill Athletics, founded in 1918, is the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of Track & Field equipment. Gill implements and equipment are in use on most of America’s collegiate, high school, and junior high school tracks & fields. For more information about Gill Athletics, call 800-637-3090 or visit www.gillathletics.com
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, the World's #1 Track & Field Team, the most-watched events at the Olympics, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport, and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States: www.usatf.org