|INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 19. THE United States Olympic Committee today announced James Hrbek (judo; Schertz, Texas), Neal Henderson (cycling; Boulder, Colo.), Tom Waga (rugby; Provo, Utah), Dave Denniston (Paralympic swimming; Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Rick Bower (snowboarding; Park City, Utah) as the recipients of its 2012 Coach of the Year honors. The winners were recognized here tonight at a reception during the 2012 National Coaching Conference at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
Hrbek was named the Developmental Coach of the Year, while Henderson took home the Doc Councilman Science Award. Meanwhile, Waga was awarded Volunteer Coach of the Year and Denniston was recognized as the Paralympic Coach of the Year. Finally, Bower was named the Olympic Coach of the Year.
"These five coaches have impacted countless athletes throughout their exemplary careers," said Alan Ashley, USOC chief of sport performance. "They are shining examples of the team behind the team and their efforts have encouraged athletes of all levels to strive for excellence."
National Governing Bodies selected their 2011 Coaches of the Year as part of the USOC Coach of the Year Recognition Program. The three finalists in each category were chosen by a panel of coaching and sport education professionals.
2011 USOC COACHES OF THE YEAR
Olympic Coach of the Year - Rick Bower
During his six seasons as coach of the U.S. snowboarding halfpipe team, Bower has played an integral role in advancing women's snowboarding. In 2011, he led his athletes to 31 major event podiums and took snowboarding to new heights after helping Kelly Clark become the first female to land a 1080 in competition. 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 women's snowboarding. 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 in 2011.
Paralympic Coach of the Year - Dave Denniston
In his second year as a U.S. Paralympics resident swimming coach at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Denniston was selected to lead Team USA at the Pan-Pacific Para-Swimming Championships. In 2011, 14 of his 16 athletes were selected to major international teams, where they consistently exceled on the world stage. Among his athletes, Jessica Long collected nine gold medals in nine events, while shattering four world records. 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 reach higher goals.
Developmental Coach of the Year - James Hrbek
Devoted to building the sport of judo in the United States, Hrbek scours the world to find unique judo tournaments and training opportunities for young Americans to gain international experience. In 2011, he coordinated the entire junior program for USA Judo, which fielded U.S. teams for dozens of national and international tournaments and assembled U.S. contingents of more than 50 people. As chairman of USA Judo's Junior Athlete Performance Committee, Hrbek created a database of parents, coaches and athletes that can be used in various judo activities. It is his 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.
Volunteer Coach of the Year - Tom Waga
Now in his sixth season as the head coach of Brigham Young University's women's rugby team, Waga 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. In addition to coaching at BYU, Waga also volunteers as the Humless men's rugby coach.
Doc Counsilman Science Award - Neal Henderson
For years, Henderson has been at the forefront of applying scientific principles in the lab and on the field to improve athlete performance in the world of cycling. During the 2010-11 season, he 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 a silver-medal finish 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.
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