COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee today announced its annual award recipients for three supporting coaches of the year in 2018. Leandro Spina (sailing) was named Developmental Coach of the Year, Mary Hodge (Para powerlifting) was recognized as Volunteer Coach of the Year and Ingmar Jungnickel (speedskating) took home the Doc Councilman Science Award.
“It’s a privilege to honor these coaches for their tireless efforts serving athletes around the country,” said Alan Ashley, USOC chief of sport performance. “Their dedication to helping athletes strive for excellence is an inspiration to us all.”
National Governing Bodies nominated their 2018 coaches of the year as part of the USOC Coach of the Year Recognition Program. Winners were then determined by a USOC selection panel.
Developmental Coach of the Year – Leandro Spina
The Developmental Coach of the Year is presented to a coach at the youth club, high school or junior level, or a coach who is directly responsible for training athletes to reach the junior and/or elite level. After joining US Sailing in 2008 as a national team coach, Spina led the creation of the Olympic Development Program, an initiative designed to identify and support the next generation of U.S. Olympic sailors. The program has flourished under Spina’s leadership, culminating in its unprecedented success during the 2018 sailing season. For the first time in its history, US Sailing won the Nations Trophy at the Youth Sailing World Championships, one of the sport’s most prestigious awards. U.S. sailors took home five medals – four golds and one silver – the most won by a nation at a single youth world championship event. Spina currently serves as US Sailing’s Olympic development director and is focused on transitioning the Olympic Development Program into its second phase: preparing youth sailors for Olympic competition in 2024 and beyond. He also served as the US Sailing team leader at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.
Volunteer Coach of the Year – Mary Hodge
The Volunteer Coach of the Year is presented to a coach who does not receive payment in any form for their involvement in coaching at any level. Hodge is the high performance manager of Para powerlifting at Logan University, the high performance management organization for the sport in the U.S. Her coaching experience is unparalleled, serving as head coach or team leader of the U.S. Para powerlifting team in four Paralympic Games, five world championships and four Parapan American Games. In 2018, Hodge received a Power Women in Business Award and was a finalist at the sixth annual Imagine Awards. Her local team, the Nassau Thunderbolts, won two bronze medals at the national championships and she coached seven U.S. athletes to top-10 finishes at the 2018 World Championships. In addition to her work developing Para powerlifting regional hubs around the country, she volunteers internationally with soldiers with disabilities.
National Doc Counsilman Science Award – Ingmar Jungnickel
The Doc Counsilman Science Award recognizes a coach who utilizes scientific techniques and equipment as an integral part of their coaching methods or has created innovative ways to use sport science. As an aerodynamics research and development specialist, Jungnickel began working with US Speedskating in 2016. He was instrumental in improving aerodynamic testing of long track and short track skinsuits, helping create the fastest US Speedskating skinsuits to date for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Jungnickel also developed innovative solutions for replicating PyeongChang’s environmental conditions at the US Speedskating training centers in Salt Lake City, as well as at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for long track speedskating. Thanks to Jungnickel’s efforts, the U.S. long track team showed significant improvement between the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and the Games, and his work has changed the way speedskating coaches and athletes approach air friction in preparation for competition.
For a comprehensive list of previous USOC Coach of the Year Award recipients, please visit TeamUSA.org.