USA Judo's Jim Hrbek Named USOC's Developmental Coach of the Year

By Ernest Pund | June 19, 2012, 9:16 p.m. (ET)

USA Judo’s Jim Hrbek Named

USOC’s Developmental Coach of the Year


USA Judo’s very own Jim Hrbek, head instructor of Universal Judo in San Antonio, TX, has been named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Developmental Coach of the 2011.

Hrbek, who serves as the head of USA Judo’s Junior Athlete Performance Committee, was one of five recipients of the USOC’s award for various specialties in coaching. The winners were recognized tonight in Indianapolis at a reception during the 2012 National Coaching Conference at the NCAA Hall of Champions.

“Everyone here is so accomplished – it is enervating and humbling to be here,” Hrbek said.

Honored alongside Hrbek were 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 USOC’s Coaches of the Year. Henderson took home the Doc Councilman Science Award. 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.

"My congratulations to Coach Jim Hrbek,” said USA Judo’s CEO Jose H. Rodriguez. “We all know that success doesn’t just happen, that it takes a plan, patience to work the plan, and coaches and athletes to believe in the plan. Sensei Hrbek exemplifies the dedication and hard work of our coaches in this sport. This is indeed good news and the best is yet to come!"

"I am very happy to see the USOC recognize Coach Hrbek for his dedication, knowledge and success,” said USA Judo President Lance Nading. “On behalf of our board of directors, I thank Jim for his many years of dedication. He’s getting the credit he deserves and that’s a great thing. Big kudos as well to our Director of High Performance, Eddie Liddie, who has worked closely with Coach Hrbek to make it all happen."

“It is so good to see Jim get this recognition,” said Liddie. “Working side-by-side with someone willing to roll up their sleeves on behalf of USA Judo and the junior-level kids is a real pleasure.”

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.

“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.”


Olympic Coach of the Year – Rick Bower


During his six seasons as coach of the U.S. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Hosted by the USA Coaching Coalition – comprised of the USOC, NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations and National Association for Sport and Physical Education – the annual National Coaches Conference focuses on enhancing coaching knowledge and disseminating the latest research, trends and innovations in order to develop beginner to elite athletes. USOC, National Governing Body, university and sport professionals present on topics based on the National Standards for Sport Coaches.


Olympic Coach of the Year


1996   Tara VanDerveer, U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Coach
1997   Frank Carroll, Olympic Figure Skating Coach, Coach of Michelle Kwan
1998   Ben Smith, U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Coach
1999   Chris Carmichael, Cycling Coach, Coach of Lance Armstrong
2000   Richard Quick, U.S. Olympic Women’s Swimming Coach
2001/02   Pete del’Giudice, U.S. Snowboard Coach
2003   Lloyd Woodhouse, USA Shooting National Team Coach
2004   Mike Candrea, USA Softball Women’s National Team Coach
2005   Eddie Reese, USA Swimming Men’s National Team Coach
2006   Bud Keene, U.S. Snowboard Coach
2007   Guy Baker, USA Water Polo National Team Coach
2008   Hugh McCutcheon, USA Men’s Volleyball National Team Coach
2009   Bob Bradley, U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team Coach
2010   Brian Shimer, U.S. Men’s Bobsled Head Coach
2011   Rick Bower, U.S. Halfpipe Coach (Snowboard)

Paralympic Coach of the Year


2004   Mike Hulett, USA Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team Coach
2005   Randi Smith, U.S. Paralympic Archery Team Head Coach
2006   Julie O’Neill, U.S. Paralympic Swim Team Head Coach
2007   Adam Bleakney, U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Track Coach
2008   Ken Armbruster, U.S. Paralympic Women’s Goalball Head Coach
2009   Scott Moore, Denver Judo Coach
2010   Ray Watkins, 2010 U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team
2011   Dave Denniston, U.S. Paralympic Swimming Head Coach

Developmental Coach of the Year


1996   Jeff Shaffer, University of Southern California
1997   Dianne Holum, Speedskating
1998   Mike Stafford, Millvale Golden Gloves Gym (Cincinnati)
1999   Tom Healy, Northbrook (Ill.) Speedskating Club
2000   Fred Zimny, Luge (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
2001/02   Mike Eaves, U.S. National Under-18 Hockey Team
2003   Bob Fraley, Fresno State (Calif.) University Track & Field
2004   Dwayne Miller, Norfolk (Va.) Real Deal Track Club
2005   Tammy Gambill, U.S. Figure Skating
2006   Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson, U.S. Figure Skating
2007   Paul Yetter, USA Swimming
2008   Rajul Sheth, Table Tennis (Milpitas, Calif.)
2009   John Wingfield, Director and Head Coach of USA Diving National Training Center
2010   Michael Nyitray, Bowling (Miami, Fla.)
2011   James Hrbek, USA Judo

Volunteer Coach of the Year


2003   Carol Hardemon, Metro Dade (Fla.) Track Club
2004   Barry Hunter, Washington, D.C. Boxing Coach
2005   Cindi Hart, IndySpeed Sport Club Head Coach (Speedskating)
2006   Booker Woods, LA JETS Head Coach (Track)
2007   Sherman Nelson, USA Taekwondo Coach
2008   Rita Gladstone, Area Tennis League Coordinator (Volusia County, Fla.)
2009   Brian McCutcheon, Taekwondo Coach and Oahu Taekwondo Center Instructor
2010   Dave Farmer, Aurora (Colo.) Saracens Rugby Club Coach
2011   Tom Waga, Brigham Young University Rugby Coach

Doc Counsilman Science Award


2004   Joe Vigil, Track & Field
2005   Dr. Kyle Pierce, USA Weightlifting
2006   Kate Arbour, U.S. Figure Skating
2007   Sean O’Neill, U.S. Paralympics Table Tennis
2008   Dave Bennett, USA Wrestling
2009   Heidi Thibert, U.S. Figure Skating and Edora Pool and Ice Center Coach
2010   Dr. Grant Schaffner, Skeleton
2011   Neal Henderson, USA Cycling

Story by Ernest Pund, USA Judo