U.S. OLYMPIC & PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE HONORS Jacob Roberts as Volunteer Coach of the Year FOR 2022
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced its annual award recipients for eight coaches and support staff of the year for 2022. The recipients span seven different sports, including three winter and five summer coaches.
The award recipients include Bobby Kersee as Olympic Coach of the Year and David Hoff as Paralympic Coach of the Year. The winter award recipients include Mike Peplinski as Developmental Coach of the Year and Jacob Roberts as Volunteer Coach of the Year. The summer award recipients include Ryan Martin as College Coach of the Year, Jose Polanco as Service Provider of the Year, Dr. Christine Brooks as Coach Educator of the Year and Tom West as the Doc Counsilman Science & Technology Award winner.
“From building the grassroots to supporting Team USA athletes as they train and compete at the highest levels, coaches and support staff are an integral part of helping the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams achieve sustained excellence on and off the field of play,” said Rocky Harris, USOPC chief of sport performance and athlete services. “As we continue to celebrate the historic achievements in 2022, it is an honor to recognize these individuals and showcase their commitment to furthering the success of their athletes, their National Governing Bodies, and Team USA.”
National Governing Bodies nominated their 2022 coaches as part of the USOPC Coach of the Year Recognition Program, and the winners were then determined by a USOPC selection panel. The USOPC Coach of the Year Recognition Program aims to recognize and award the work of quality coaches and providers that are creating significant impact in their sport and NGB throughout the year.
Olympic Coach of the Year – Bobby Kersee (USA Track & Field)
For over a quarter of a century, Bobby Kersee has helped coach athletes to reach their full potential at the highest levels of the sport. At the 2022 World Athletics Championships, Kersee coached Allyson Felix as she closed out her historic career by sprinting through the final to win bronze in the mixed 4x400-meter and by propelling her team through the heats to later win a gold medal in the 4x400, making her America’s most successful track and field athlete with 20 World Athletics Championships medals. A hurdler himself, Kersee also notably coached dominant Sydney McLaughlin as she went undefeated in all 400-meter hurdle heats and finals ran during 2022, shattering her own world record for the event multiple times. Kersee also led McLaughlin-Levrone to anchor a golden 1600-meter relay.
Paralympic Coach of the Year – David Hoff (USA Hockey)
David Hoff’s 2022 coaching season was marked by several records, including USA Hockey’s best head coaching record — with 12 wins and only one loss throughout the sled hockey season. In addition, Hoff coached Paralympians Steve Cash and Declan Farmer this year as they set numerous goaltending records and the record for most goals/assists in Paralympic ice hockey history, respectively. Cash’s successes granted him the title in 2022 of the first player with a disability to be inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame. Hoff’s coaching style has been revered not just for the many records he has achieved but also for creating a player-first, positive team culture based on respect and accountability that motivates his athletes to achieve great success. He has an unrivaled work ethic and embraces the true meaning of sport.
Developmental Coach of the Year – Mike Peplinski (USA Curling)
As an Olympian and elementary school teacher, Mike Peplinski combined his interests of sport and education by stepping up last year to oversee the USA Curling national junior development program. He focuses on the grassroots level of growing the sport and igniting passion for competition among his athletes. With a team of over 50 athletes spread across the country, Peplinski has perfected a virtual coaching style that utilizes submission of athletes’ technique videos for feedback, monthly group webinars and in-person camps. Peplinski also emphasizes off-ice skills, teaching his athletes about overcoming challenges along with the importance of sport psychology and strong team dynamics. His inspirational coaching style recently led to one of his junior’s winning an adult mixed doubles event to qualify for an adult national championship event.
College Coach of the Year – Ryan Martin (National Wheelchair Basketball Association)
In his dual role as the director of the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNY) Adaptive Sports Program and head coach for both the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams, Ryan Martin has worked tirelessly to bring adaptive sports programming to New York City college campuses. He created the first adaptive sports team in CUNY history, which now competes nationally within the National Wheelchair Basketball Association collegiate conference and has inspired disabled athletes to return to college. Known for his exceptional work in philanthropy, Martin also founded and now leads The Ryan Martin Foundation which connects youth and adult athletes with disabilities through sports training, mentoring and education. In addition, Martin has worked with numerous colleges on the implantation of adaptive sports programs – most notably at the University of Michigan.
Volunteer Coach of the Year – Jacob Roberts (US Speedskating)
By creating the Timpanogos Speedskating Club in Utah, Jacob Roberts greatly expanded access to the sport of speed skating by introducing new skaters to the sport at the local rink. He has also grown awareness for the sport through his volunteer roles at Olympic trials events and behind-the-scenes fundraising initiatives. Now, in conjunction with the Timpanogos Speedskating Club, Roberts is focusing on growing instructional programming at the youth level by engaging with skaters of all abilities through his friendly demeanor and willingness to share his love of the sport. He is known for his playful training method, utilizing games that highlight necessary skill development into each practice session, while also fostering a dedicated team of athletes.
Service Provider of the Year – Jose Polanco (USA Boxing)
In Jose Polanco’s role as assistant director of high performance and sport performance for USA Boxing, Polanco has played a critical role in the recruitment, development and oversight of USA Boxing’s Sport Performance staff, adding four new, full-time positions to provide the team’s athletes with wholistic services. Throughout 2022, he also worked directly with the USOPC to develop innovative athlete profiles in the Athlete 360 platform, which will soon provide teams with data critical in constructing training and recovery plans specific to each athlete. Continuing to serve as USA Boxing’s head strength and conditioning coach, Polanco played a key role in 2022 in Team USA’s success of winning 13 medals at the Continental Championships — the most podium awards USA Boxing has ever achieved at the event. In addition, Polanco was an important figure in Rashida Ellis becoming the first women’s world champion in an Olympic weight since 2016.
Coach Educator of the Year – Dr. Christine Brooks (USA Track & Field)
During 2022, Dr. Christine Brooks educated over 200 coaches as a USA Track & Field level two sports science instructor, igniting their passion for and understanding of the critical elements of human performance. In addition, Brooks created a modernized instructor training course that inaugurated 16 new USATF level one instructors, including three Olympians. In a span of only four months, Brooks authored her updated curriculum that included three practicum exercises and multiple teaching assessments across a 20-hour course. Her students, ranging from those with doctorate degrees to Olympic medalists, have praised her new curriculum as the best-designed online course currently available.
Doc Counsilman Science & Technology Award – Tom West (USRowing)
Using his background as an engineer and former U.S. national team rower, Tom West has pioneered the creation of specialized equipment for Para rowers with measurable results for Team USA athletes. In his home workshop, West has fabricated different adaptations that enhanced the performance of individual Para rowers, including creating custom-molded grips for athlete with peripheral neuropathy to enhance overall connection. One of his largest successes came from adapting a cycling-based clip-in shoe system with a custom wedge for a rower with bilateral club feet who has limited range of motion and limited ability to apply pressure on the foot boards. West’s creation allowed the athlete to increase her overall stroke length which led to her successfully making the U.S. national team for the first time in the priority boat class. Most recently, West has been using instrumented oarlocks and specialized software to analyze on-water performance of different rigging configurations for para rowing boats, which will benefit the entire field of Para rowing by optimizing rower set-ups and enabling para rowers of all levels to enjoy a more efficient setup based on their specific characteristics and abilities.