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HIGH SCHOOL TRACK

Stevens’ Paul Hendry wins national coach of the year award

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Paul Hendry COY

Rapid City Stevens track and field head coach Paul Hendry, center, poses with his sons after winning the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year for girls track and field at the organization’s annual convention Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Rapid City Stevens athletic director Jared Vasquez noted that with the high turnover rate of coaches these days, Paul Hendry’s tenure at the school is an accomplishment in and of itself.

And for his years of service, as well as his commitment and success, Hendry was honored as the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year for girls track and field at the organization’s annual convention Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Sitting there in the audience, I was there with my two sons and my youngest one’s like, ‘You’re going to win, you’re going to win,’” Hendry said. “I know the more times you get there, and the more years of experience and wins and working in your association, you get better chances to hear your name called, so I knew there was a chance, but it’s still a surprise when you hear your name called.”

Hendry, who has coached both the Raiders girls and boys track and field teams since 1998 and has spent the last 21 years as head coach, was named a finalist for the award earlier this month and was among seven other coaches from Iowa, Montana, Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, North Dakota and New Mexico contending for the award.

“I’m very happy for Paul, just because of his dedication and involvement with making the sport better, not just at Stevens, not just in Rapid City, but statewide,” Vasquez said. “To see him finally be recognized in a day and age where coaching longevity is starting to become the exception instead of the norm, at least from what I’ve been observing, I’m really happy for Paul.”

Hendry said the award speaks to the accomplishments of Stevens track and field as a whole, and that the recognition is shared within the program.

“It’s not me as an individual winning this, but it represents our coaching staff, the awesome athletes I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years,” he said. “Plus the support we get from the parents and school and the community is what this award means.”

Vasquez said Hendry has fostered a team atmosphere out of a highly individual sport, and that his success as a program leader has been shown through strong showings at state meets, many college signings and high quality student-athletes.

“It’s always very gratifying to see that someone who you support and try to get them what they need to do the best job that they can get recognized, especially when they’re getting recognized by their peers,” he said. “You’re just happy and excited for them, and feel good for them that all their hard work and commitment to a sport and to a craft and their involvement in that sport, not just locally but statewide, is recognized.”

Contact Matt Case at matt.case@rapidcityjournal.com

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