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Former Clarion Area Athlete And Track And Field Coach Wins Big Award (05/31/19)

(Photo from SCAC website) TLU Assistant Coach Ben Bevevino and TLU Head Coach Darlene Holland with their awards

Texas Lutheran University assistant track coach, Ben Bevevino,s former Clarion Area athlete and Track and Field coach has been named the 2019 South/Southeast Region Men’s Track & Field Assistant Coach of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. T.L.U. Head Coach Darlene Holland was also named Coach of the Year. The awards were given at th NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships banquet on Wednesday, May 23rd.

The banquet was held in conjunction with the Division III National Championships, at the Spire Institute, near Youngstown.

Coach Bevevino, who is in his first year with the Bulldogs, had this to say about the honor, “It is a wonderful feeling to be nominated and win the Regional Assistant Coach of the Year award.”

He gives credit to his athletes, as well as the Head Coach, for the award, “I have a tremendous group of athletes here.  They are really the ones who won that award.  They are very hard working and self-motivated. I just had to keep them focused on what they wanted to achieve.  But they were the ones who week in and week out were setting personal best, breaking school records, and achieving top marks in our Region that got me the recognition.

 “It helped too, having an experienced head coach.  Coach Holland was a Regional Head Coach of the Year in 2017, as well.  Her knowing what it takes, as well as providing endless opportunities for the athletes to compete in high quality meets, allowed them to perform at a very high level.” 

This was Coach Holland’s second time to be named Regional Coach of the Year, the first being in 2017. Her assistant coach at that time also won.

Coach Bevevino shared about his days as the Bobcats mentor, “Clarion Area is where it all started for me.  Becoming Head Boys’ coach at a young age was a bit scary at first.  I have a lot of pride in that school and program as well, so I wanted to succeed. 

“I was lucky enough to have some very talented athletes.  Bryce Staffin, Liam Raeshler, and Ian Corbett were able to perform with the best athletes in the state and that gave me the confidence that I could be a good coach.  Ever since then, I’ve strived to learn more and become a better coach so that I can help young people recognize their talent and achieve their goals.”

The Bulldogs won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s team championship this season, their third consecutive crown and has been ranked as high as number one in the South/Southeast Region rankings.

Coach Holland also gives most of the credit to the athletes. “Our men’s program has only been in existence for five years. I feel truly lucky to have recruited in for our initial class a group of men who were inspired to become the best collegiate athletes that they could be, and to take the reigns as freshmen and lead one another on a path to success.

“Our first year, we finished second in our conference. That lit a bonfire under them! They wanted to win the next year. We fell just short. By year three, these men were more mature and hungrier for the win. We haven’t looked back since.”

Hard work produces results, “Three conference championships in a row. Out of this same group came a national champion, a few All-Americans and a growing number of national qualifiers each year. This is generally unheard of from a start-up program in Division III.

“Given that background, the men that we had qualify for NCAAs this year, were more seasoned, had a foundation of excellence in place from their teammates who graduated last year and a solid hard-work ethic. As coaches, we work to keep that enthusiasm, keep their heads straight and their bodies healthy!

Coach Holland sees this as being a perfect fit for Coach Bevevino. “So, that’s the atmosphere that Coach Bevevino stepped into. He had a talented group of short sprinters to work with this season, and with our top guys it really was a balance of trying to keep them healthy. Our focus in the off-season is always building strength and conditioning to prepare for the track season in the Spring.

“Our top sprinters Darren Jones and Paris Foster had already been to NCAAs as part of a 4×100 both their freshman and sophomore years. In their sophomore year, that team was the national runner-up in the 4×100. So, their experience and desire to qualify in individual events were a perfect match for Coach Bevevino this year.

“The 4×100 repeated an appearance at NCAAs, and Darren qualified in the 100 and 200, and Paris in the 100 and 110 hurdles. Darren placed eighth in the 200 meters and earned All-America designation.”

Coach Holland, just like Coach Bevevino sees the athletes as key to their winning their awards. “The number of athletes qualified for the NCAA Championships combined with him coaching five All-Region athletes, helped bolster Coach Bevevino’s bio to get voted for the Regional assistant coaching award. As a head coach, having nine All-Region athletes and seven total events qualifying for the NCAA Championships helped secure the Regional head coaching award.

“Also, winning a conference championship makes a big impact on whether coaches vote favorably for people for the awards. Since we won our third in a row, we definitely have the attention of some of the teams that don’t know us as well on the East Coast, and for the Texas teams that have come to know us over this five-year span of time.

“Whether we are the best coaches out there in our positions in our Region or not, it shows that others at least respect what we have done with the men’s team this year.”

Winning the award was bittersweet for Coach Holland, as she felt a couple key athletes should have won awards also. “I honestly felt both angry and sad that our athletes didn’t win the Regional awards. I felt that Darren Jones, who was up for the Track Regional award, and Garrett Garza, who was up for the Field Regional award, were clearly the most deserving of the awards in their respective areas. Darren qualified in three events and was ranked high in all three. Garrett was ranked third overall in the shot put event, and Regionally was ranked #1 in both the shot and discus.

“So, though it was nice that our coaches were recognized for the season with the awards, to me it didn’t feel right without the athletes being recognized. They athletes are the ones that put in the work day after day, and perform when it matters. As coaches, we sit back and hope they do what they have practiced, but it’s the athletes that make it happen.”

So congratulations to Coach Bevevino and Coach Holland. And though no Bulldog athletes won major regional awards, they can take pride in knowing that they were the impetus behind the coaches’ awards and can see how much Coach Bevevino and Holland credit them for their honor.