March 12, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- University of Tennessee Women's Head Coach J.J. Clark was named South Region Indoor Women's Coach of the Year, and sprint coach Pauline Davis-Thompson was selected as the South Region Indoor Women's Assistant Coach of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), the organization announced Thursday.
Clark, in his seventh season at the helm of the Lady Vol program, received that distinction for the fourth time in the past five years (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009). He earned kudos after leading UT to victory at the SEC Indoor Championships for the third time in five seasons and to a number-two national ranking this season as his squad tries to win its second NCAA Indoor crown in the past five years. With this award, his total of career coach of the year honors reached 19, including 16 in his first 6 1/2 seasons in Knoxville.
Among Clark's accomplishments in 2009 are coaching Sarah Bowman to a conference-record three straight SEC Indoor titles in the mile and 3000 meters, developing Phoebe Wright into the national leader and the SEC Indoor champion the 800 meters and producing a distance medley relay team that set the American record and won its fifth SEC title in the past six years. He also had a runner-up effort in the 3K from Jackie Areson, a third-place finish in the mile from Rolanda Bell and sixth-place outings in the 800m and 5000m, respectively, from Chanelle Price and Katie Van Horn. His program also had an SEC title in the hurdles and runner-up finishes in the 60m, 200m and shot put, and scored in 14 of 17 events at the league meet.
"I think it shows the consistency of our program," Clark said of receiving the indoor award for the fourth time. "If you are chosen the coach of the year, it's a good indication that you have a team that's doing something that's relevant to winning championships. It's a great honor, and I'm very appreciative that the NCAA Division I coaches voted me as the regional coach of the year."
Clark's tally of personal accomplishments as UT's skipper includes one national coach of the year award (2005), five regional kudos (indoors in 2005, 2007, 2008 & 2009; outdoors in 2005) and three conference honors (2005, 2007, 2009) in track & field, and four regional citations (2002-05) and three conference nods (2003-05) in cross country. During that time, he has directed his troops to one NCAA Indoor title and four top-five national finishes, three conference indoor championships and a regional outdoor victory in track & field, and four regional crowns and three SEC trophies in cross country. He also had two SEC honors (1996-97) and one regional award (1997) as cross country coach at Florida from 1992 to 2001 while leading the Gators to victory twice in league (1996, 1997) and regional (1997, 1998) action.
Davis-Thompson's sprints, hurdles and jumps athletes, meanwhile, also were instrumental in helping the Lady Vols win the SEC title and move into contention for a national championship. In her first season as a full-time assistant at UT, Davis-Thompson developed Celriece Law into the school's first SEC champion in the 60m hurdles since LaVonna Martin in 1988. Another pupil, Lynne Layne, posted a pair of runner-up finishes at the SEC Championships, taking second in the 60m dash in 7.22 and snaring second in the 200m in 23.53, both career bests. Law also placed third in the triple jump, while Layne finished eighth in the long jump. She also assisted pentathlete Ellen Wortham, who placed fifth at the SEC meet as a freshman this season.
Davis-Thompson is a former Olympic gold (4x100mR, 2000) and silver medalist (200m, 2000; 4x100mR, 1996) for the Bahamas. She ran collegiately at Alabama, winning two NCAA titles and nine SEC championships for the Crimson Tide. Prior to joining the Lady Vols as a volunteer assistant a year ago, she had worked for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and as the director of PDT International Track Club, where she coached professional athletes.
"It's very good when you have assistant coaches who are able to achieve those types of accolades, because it is showing that they do a good job," Clark said. "John Frazier received this award a couple of years ago, and it just shows the overall quality of our program. Pauline does a great job, as does John, in making sure that these student-athletes are prepped and ready to go. I congratulate Pauline on this occasion."
Picking up the other women's South Region indoor awards were Murielle Ahoure of Miami (Fla.), the Women's Track Athlete of the Year, and Mariam Kevkhishvili of Florida, the Field Athlete of the Year. All of the honorees will receive their awards and be recognized Thursday night at the USTFCCCA Banquet in College Station.