Schulz named national coach of the year

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Whitefish head track coach Derek Schulz, right, with assistant coach Kelliann Blackburn.

Whitefish High School track and field coach Derek Schulz received the 2017 national boys track and field coach of the year award by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association last week.

Schulz has coached the Bulldogs for the last 22 years and led the boys to seven state titles.

He was one of eight finalists for the award around the country and has been nominated for the award in 2011 and 2014.

The award is based on longevity, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years and winning percentages.

“It’s a neat thing, but mostly I kind of feel a little embarrassed and humbled,” Schulz said. “It’s not really about me, we’ve had such an amazing run of kids and the coaches that have worked with me have been fantastic, and that’s really where I learned everything, is from them.”

Schulz looked back to the 1997 track team as the team that jump started the Bulldog track program and got the ball rolling for his successful career.

“Those kids we had on that team did something special,” he said. “That’s the team that really put Whitefish track on the map, and we’ve ridden that ever since. I hope Whitefish track will ride that forever.”

“It was just the idea that you get your best athletes in the school on the team and let it happen. That’s what they did then, and they won and proved themselves,” he added. “It really was about the kids though, the coaches were just the vehicles, the people encouraging them and promoting them.”

The award, he said modestly, is less about him than what the school and community has done.

“I just feel like this whole thing should be downplayed. Really it’s credit to those kids and the community that has rallied behind them. We all believe the same thing, let’s just do this for the kids and have fun. There’s no magical philosophy. Just compete,” he said.

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