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Tom Tellez to receive USATF Legend Coach Award


INDIANAPOLIS -- Receiving the prestigious USATF Legend Coach Award is Tom Tellez, a two-time U.S. National Team head coach, 22-year head coach at the University of Houston and mentor to Olympic gold medalists and countless NCAA champions.

Tellez will be recognized by USATF President Stephanie Hightower and USATF CEO Max Siegel at an award ceremony on Saturday, July 2 at 12:15 p.m. inside Hayward Field.

In each of his two USATF international head coaching roles, U.S. teams achieved the highest gold medal tally among nations and led the overall medal table. Tellez was at the helm in 1991 at the 3rd IAAF World Championships in Tokyo, where he led Americans to a gold medal haul of 10 and medal table topping 26 total pieces of hardware. At the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, Team USA produced 55 medals in track & field with 26 of them gold.

His University of Houston proteges include nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, who achieved four NCAA titles under his direction, and current UH head coach Leroy Burrell, the former 100m world record holder and Olympic champion with three NCAA titles to his credit. Tellez coached 200m Olympic gold medalist Joe DeLoach to an NCAA title in addition to leading Olympic silver medalist Kirk Baptiste to two NCAA Championships, and also guided bronze medalist Frank Rutherford to three.

Tellez began the University of Houston’s women’s program, which has produced three top-10 finishes at NCAA Indoor Championships and eight top-20 finishes outdoors. At the conference level, the women’s program won 1983, 1984, and 1987 Southwest Conference indoor titles in addition to 1984 and 1990 SWC Outdoor Championships. Tellez was named 1998 Conference USA women’s indoor and outdoor Coach of the Year after the Lady Cougars won indoor and outdoor conference titles. Among the top Lady Cougars Tellez coached are four-time NCAA long jump champion Carol Lewis and three-time NCAA heptathlon champion Jolanda Jones.

With the UH men’s program, Tellez was named the Conference USA men’s indoor and outdoor Coach of the Year in both 1997 and 98 after leading the Cougars to four titles in their first two years in the league. His teams finished among the top 10 at NCAA Indoor Championships on nine occasions, and they earned six finishes in the top 15 at the outdoor event.

Tellez was a collegiate sprinter and also played halfback and defensive back for the football team at Whittier College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in physical education before attending Chapman College to earn his master’s degree in 1962. He began his coaching career as graduate assistant at his alma mater, Whittier, before serving two years in the U.S. Armed Forces and going on to become head coach at Buena Park High School. Tellez was a head coach at Fullerton Junior College and an assistant at UCLA, where he coached the likes of  three-time Olympian Willie Banks, double bronze medalist Dwight Stones and silver medalist Mike Tully.

From 1984-96, six of his seven U.S. sprinters won Olympic gold, and he coached 13 total medalists.

Tellez, now a volunteer assistant at UH, has three children: Kip, Tina and Kyle. He was married to his wife Kay more than 40 years before her death.  

The USATF Legend Coach Award is in its third year. The inaugural award was presented to Hall of Fame Tigerbelle Coach Ed Temple in 2014, followed by Dr. Joe Vigil in 2015.  

Amanda Brooks
Marketing and Communications Manager
USA Track & Field

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