USATT Announces 2017 National Coaches of the Year Awards

By USATT | Jan. 09, 2018, 10:29 p.m. (ET)



Colorado Springs, CO (January 8, 2018) – USA Table Tennis (USATT) announced today the recipients of its 2017 USATT Coaches of the Year:

Coach of the Year: Jörg Bitzigeio (Colorado Springs, CA)
- Mark Nordby Developmental Coach of the Year: Pieke Franssen (Alameda, CA)
Paralympic Coach of the Year: Mitch Seidenfeld (Lakeville, MN)
Doc Counsilman Technology Coach of the Year: Samson Dubina (Akron, OH)
Volunteer Coach of the Year: (No nominations)

Selection Committee for the 2017 Coaches of the Year were:

  • Jörg Bitzigeio, USATT High Performance Director

  • Carl Danner, Chair, USATT High Performance Committee

  • Larry Hodges, Chair, USATT Coaching Committee

  • Tara Profitt, Chair, Athletes Advisory Council

(Note – during discussions regarding Coach of the Year, Bitzigeio left the phone conference and did not participate in the decision.)

“These were some of the toughest selections ever,” said Hodges. “There were many deserving coaches. We even considered having joint winners before finally getting it down to one for each category. In the end, we had four fantastic selections.”

Jörg Bitzigeio (Coach of the Year) was honored for his role in coaching USATT teams internationally at the World Championships, Pan Am Cup, Pan Am Adult & Junior Championships, and World Junior Championships.
Some results:

  • World Championships: Lily Zhang and Wu Yue reached the quarterfinals of Women’s Doubles.

  • Pan Am Cup: Lily Zhang won Women’s Singles.

  • Pan Am Junior Championships: Team USA won both Boys’ and Girls’ Teams, Kanak Jha won Junior Singles, and Kanak Jha/ Sharon Alguetti won Junior Boys’ Doubles.

  • World Junior Championships: Team USA made the quarterfinals of Boys’ and Girls’ Teams.

Pieke Franssen (Developmental Coach of the Year) was honored for his coaching at the Alameda club in California. His experience with high level international table tennis has helped to bring a higher level of professionalism and play to the US. His development of a complete “Elite Development Program” in Alameda is helping players achieving new heights. He also coached at the USATT Super Camp in North Carolina. Some of his students include:

  • Aziz Zarehbin, National Minicadet Boys’ Champion (12 and under) and member of Hopes Team.

  • Victor Xie, US Under 10 Boys’ Singles Silver Medalist.

  • Jayden Diep, US Under 10 Boys’ Bronze Medalist.

  • Kai Zarehbin, Avery Chan, and many others.

Mitch Seidenfeld (Paralympic Coach of the Year) was honored for his coaching of US Para athletes in the US and overseas.

  • Mingyu Zu, singles gold medalist at the German, Korea, and US Para Opens and a silver in Chinese Taipei.

  • Ian Seidenfeld, gold medalist in Singles and Teams at the Spanish Para Opens, gold medalist in Singles and silver medalist in Teams at the German Para Open.

  • Tahl Leibovitz, singles gold medalist at the US Open (class 9), bronze in Teams.

  • Jenson Van Emburgh, singles silver medalist at the US Open (class 3), silver medal singles and teams at ParaPanAm Championships.

Samson Dubina (Doc Counsilman Science Coach of the Year) was honored for his innovative coaching techniques, including:

  • Creating new drills for use with table tennis robots

  • Skype coaching

  • TT-Flex (full body strengthening system)

  • Numerous online articles

The coaches are selected annually in five categories:

About USA Table Tennis

USA Table Tennis is organized under the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of table tennis in the United States. As a member service organization it promotes table tennis by creating opportunities for athletes and coaches of all backgrounds to participate in the sport through more than 250 clubs and over 350 tournaments across the nation annually. USA Table Tennis is a member of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), and is responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Pan American and Olympic Games.