Hokie athletes may grab headlines during the season, but as many of Tech’s sports teams move into the offseason, several coaches have been celebrated for their achievements.
Last week, the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association named softball head coach Scot Thomas and the rest of his staff as the Mid-Atlantic region’s coaching staff of the year, while the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association also focused on the Hokies, naming track and field head coach Dave Cianelli the southeast region’s coach of the year.
“Our efforts helped the team have a successful season, and I’m really proud of how we maintained our efficiency from top to bottom,” Thomas said.
This was the staff’s third time receiving the award and associate head coach Al Brauns, assistant coach Barb Sherwood, volunteer assistant Whitney Davis and student assistants Kenzie Roark, Misty Hall and Ashton Ward all received recognition for their efforts. The staff guided the team to 42-21 record this season and made the ACC title game, despite having just two seniors on the squad.
“We definitely rode a rollercoaster early on, but as we gained experience in big games, things definitely got better,” Thomas said.
Cianelli was also able to guide his team to conference success, as they claimed first place at the ACC outdoor championships, which surely influenced his coaching recognition.
“Any credit for an individual award like this has to go to our whole staff,” Cianelli said. “We really think of this as a team effort, and I’m glad to see that recognized.”
Although the team’s season is over, several track athletes are still competing with the help of coaches. Both Keith Ricks and Darrell Wesh were selected to compete in this past week’s North American, Central American, and Caribbean Under-23 Championship.
“There’s no one else out there working as hard as we are,” Wesh said. “It’s been a lot of work, but the coaches have all been so supportive."
After Ricks placed third in the 200-meter race and Wesh’s team finished first in the 4x100 meter relay in the event, Cianelli and the rest of his staff should feel confident that their methods are working.
“Between my family and the coaches, I really have a great support system,” Wesh said. “Competing at the international level like this just means so much.”
The softball team may be further removed from its season, but the results it posted were certainly had a big effect on the staff’s award. Aside from the impressive finish, the team also posted school records in home runs, sacrifice flies, double plays turned and fielding percentage.
“We try to maintain our fundamentals all year, but these players had the talents to get it done, that’s most important,” Thomas said. “It’s just a matter of us showing them the way and taking a solid approach all year long.”
The team is set to return its entire starting lineup next season and coaches hope this experience will pay off in a big way.
“We really want to win the ACC and make regionals,” Thomas said. “We want to see Oklahoma City again, and I think we’ve got the skill set to do so, as long as the stars align.”
Their situations may be very different, but one thing the honored coaches agree on is their optimism for the future.
“We’re always looking to improve, so it’s an ongoing process for us, but we’re really excited to see what we can do next year,” Cianelli said.