NEW ORLEANS- Devon Hind of Hoover (Ala.) High School and Paul Scruggs of Panther Creek (N.C.) High School were quick to point out two things that other coaches can do to follow their lead as the National High School Boys and Girls Track & Field Coaches of the Year Presented by the United States Marine Corps: Assemble a strong coaching staff and see value in each event.
Both Hind and Scruggs, who were honored on Tuesday for their teams' incredible indoor seasons by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) and the Marine Corps, surround themselves - and their athletes - with assistants who know what it takes to compete at an elite level and also stress the importance of a team mindset.
For Hind's Buccaneers, that balanced approach led them to a plethora of state titles over the past eight years. Dating back to 2013, Hoover has topped the podium 11 times between indoor and outdoor track & field, including each of the past four indoor seasons in Class 7A.
"Our goal is to win state every year," said Hind, who just completed his 18th season at Hoover High School. "There is a level of commitment that needs to be had to do that and we get that from our athletes and coaches. They don't take competing or coaching at Hoover lightly."
Just this past indoor season, the Bucs romped to a 25.5-point win at the state meet held in early February at the Birmingham CrossPlex (Final score: Hoover 114.5, Thompson 89). Hoover qualified athletes in 14 finals and scored in 12 of those, including multiple scorers in the 60 (1 & 3), 400 (1 & 3), long jump (1 & 2), pole vault (3 & 6) and triple jump (1 & 2).
"You have to realize that the shot put counts just as much as the 60-meter dash," Hind said. "Everybody usually just focuses on their team's specialty. We try to focus on every event. It's not about winning events. I mean, it's nice to do that - but it's about scoring points. All of those third, fourth and sixth places add up at the end of the meet."
Hoover did turn in some incredible individual and relay efforts at the state meet, though. In sweeping the horizontal jumps, those three athletes who were involved in that feat - LJ Hill, J'Marri McCall and John Watkins - all PR'd in those events, namely Watkins with his 48-10½ triple jump that ranked him fifth nationally. Not to be outdone, the Bucs' 4×200 relay team went 1:28.50 to win that crown and ended the season nationally ranked alongside Watkins at fifth.