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USOC Names Recipients of Annual Coach of the Year Awards

April 04, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)

For Immediate Release April 4, 2008 USOC Names Recipients of Annual Coach of the Year Awards COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has announced the recipients of the National, Developmental, Volunteer and Paralympic Coach of the Year awards as well as the recipient of the "Doc" Counsilman Science Award. The awards will be presented on April 15 during the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit in Chicago, Ill. This year's honorees are an exemplary mix of coaches from five different levels of athlete development that have helped to cultivate, mentor and spur American athletes to the great heights they achieved in 2007. The 2007 awards for National, Developmental, Volunteer and Paralympic Coach of the Year went to Guy Baker (Long Beach, Calif.) of USA Water Polo, Paul Yetter (Baltimore, Md.) of USA Swimming, Sherman Nelson (Washington, D.C.) of USA Taekwondo and Adam Bleakney (Savoy, Ill.) of U.S. Paralympics respectively. Sean O'Neill (Portland, Ore.) of USA Table Tennis was honored with the 2007 "Doc" Counsilman Award. Each year, 43 Olympic and Pan American sport organizations select their nominations for the National, Developmental, Volunteer and/or Paralympic Coaches of the Year as part of the USOC Coach of the Year Recognition Program. Five finalists were selected in each of the categories with the exception of Paralympics, which included three. The first "Doc" Counsilman Science Award was given posthumously to its namesake in 2003 and five finalists were tabbed for this year's honor. This year's finalists hailed from all over the U.S. and coached a total of 16 sports with great success. While all of this year's nominees were very deserving, only one coach from each category could be named coach of the year. A panel consisting of Steve Roush, Chief of Sport Performance, Doug Ingram, Managing Director of Performance Services, Alan Ashley, Team Leader of Acrobat and Combat, Wes Barnett, Team Leader of Strength and Power, Jay T. Kearney, Team Leader of Endurance, selected the honorees for 2007. Coaches were judged based on coaching performance, the ethics and character of the coach, the attitude of athletes, service to the sport, and volunteer work within the sport. "The Coach of the Year program was initiated in 1996 with the mission of honoring the work and sacrifices that coaches make while helping athletes at all levels achieve their dreams," said Ingram. "These are America's finest coaches and we are pleased to be able to recognize their contributions to America's athletes and sporting organizations." 2007 USOC National Coach of the Year Guy Baker (Long Beach, Calif./Water Polo) led the 2006-7 USA Women's Water Polo team to a meteoric international sucess as the team went undefeated (35-0-1) in competition, grabbing gold medals at the 2007 World Championships, the 2007 World League Super Final, and the 2007 Pan American Games, where the team qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The team's triple gold performance is unprecedented in USA Water Polo history, and their FINA World Championships earned the U.S. its second title (2003, 2007), which ties the U.S. with Italy (1998, 2001) and Hungary (1994, 2005) for the most FINA World Championship titles held by a country. In service to water polo, Baker directs and oversees USA Women's Water Polo Programs for Athlete and Coaches Education (P.A.C.E.) program that has served over 4,500 athletes and coaches since its inception in 2001. In addition, he supervises the USA Women's Water Polo Olympic Development Program that encompasses three National Teams. 2007 USOC Developmental Coach of the Year Paul Yetter (Baltimore, Md./Swimming) has established himself as one of the premier club swimming coaches in the U.S. despite being one of the younger coaches in the swimming community. Most recognized for his success coaching 18-year-old world record-holder, and 2007 USOC Sports Woman of the Year Katie Hoff, Yetter currently has 13 athletes eligible for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for swimming. Since joining the coaching staff at North Baltimore Aquatics Club in 2001, Yetter has amassed himself quite a resume. Since then, he has coached eight different swimmers to 60 No. 1 National Age Group rankings. Four of those athletes and five relay teams have set 47 National Age Group records. Yetter was the only coach to place four athletes on the 2007 National Junior Team. Each athlete had at least one top-four finish at the 2007 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Maui, Hawaii where he was the head women's coach. The American women took home gold in 14 of 16 events. 2007 USOC Volunteer Coach of the Year Sherman Nelson (Washington, D.C./Taekwondo) displays boundless enthusiasm and an ability to connect with young taekwondo athletes. He teaches his athletes the importance of serving, and recognizing that they are fortunate to be able to train, travel, compete and enjoy life through taekwondo. Because of this, Sherman tries to instill a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. He volunteers his time doing any job given to him and acts as "cheer coordinator" for the various teams involved in international competitions. This gives the young athletes a sense of camaraderie and lends to the excitement of what is, for many, their first taste of being a member of a team representing the U.S. In 2007, Nelson's athletes recorded two bronze medals at the U.S. Nationals as well as two gold, one silver and a bronze medal at the U.S. Junior Olympics. His team earned three gold medals at the Junior Team Trials as well as two gold medals and a bronze medal at the Jr. Pan American Championships. 2007 USOC Paralympic Coach of the Year In 2007, Adam Bleakney (Savoy, Ill./Wheelchair Track) coached three U.S. track and field athletes to world records including Paralympian of the Year, Jessica Galli, who world broke records in the T53 200m, 400m and 800m races. Additionally, Amanda McGrory broke the T53 5000m world record, and Josh George broke the T53 800m world record. Anjali Forber-Pratt, another of Bleakney's athletes, emerged onto the international scene by winning double gold and bronze at the Parapan American Games and qualified for the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field Elite Team. Bleakney has also demonstrated the ability to develop collegiate-level athletes into world-class athletes. His collegiate program at the University of Illinois has been a model for other competitive track teams and has been called arguably the finest training 'center of excellence' for wheelchair athletes in the U.S. In service to his sport, Bleakney is actively involved in organizing the World Series of Wheelchair Track and is one of the foremost clinicians on coaching wheelchair track in the U.S. The "Doc" Counsilman Science Award for 2007 James E. "Doc" Counsilman is considered one of the greatest coaches in any sport of all time. He coached the Indiana University men's swimming team to six consecutive NCAA championships and 23 Big Ten titles over three decades. Counsilman also produced 48 Olympians and coached the 1964 Tokyo and 1976 Montreal teams, which became two of the most wining Olympic teams in history. His swimmers won a total of 46 Olympic medals, 26 of them gold. Counsilman is most known for his revolutionary contributions to swimming. Always willing to "buck the trend" Counsilman changed the accepted thought processes pertaining to stroke mechanics and exercise physiology. His book, The Science of Swimming, is still used as a reference by coaches worldwide. The "Doc" Counsilman Science Award is for a coach that utilizes scientific techniques and equipment as an integral part of his or her coaching methods, or has created innovative ways to use sport science. Out of this year's finalists, Sean O'Neill (Portland, Ore./Table Tennis), the head coach of the U.S Paralympics Table Tennis National Team, most personifies the characteristics of the legacy left by "Doc" Counsilman and the award in his namesake. Using Google's Video and Document tools, he has taken remote coaching to a new level by allowing players to get instant feedback via online forms, instant messaging, and SMS for their training and competition needs. O'Neill has uploaded over 650 videos of matches and national team players and coaches can view their performances from any web connection. Everyday training drills, tournament prep notes, training suggestions, motivational advice, competition review and sports psychology tips are provided for team members in a secure fashion that can be accessed through a web connection. Combining online video and training logs allows O'Neill to remotely coach players in any state. In the future, O'Neill hopes to utilize iPod and iPhone technology to allow the athletes to view their video feed anywhere in the world. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the sole entity in the United States whose mission involves training, entering and underwriting the full expenses for the U.S. teams in the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games. In addition to being the steward of the U.S. Olympic Movement, the USOC is the moving force for support of sports in the United States that are on the program of the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games. For more information, please contact the USOC Communications Division, (719) 866-4529.