Nov. 30, 2005
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bobby Kersee, who this year guided two of his athletes to World Outdoor Championship gold medals, on Tuesday was named 2005 Nike Coach of the Year by USA Track & Field. Kersee will receive his award Thursday evening at the 2005 Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in conjunction with the USATF Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida.
During a remarkable career that has spanned nearly three decades, Kersee has earned his reputation as one of the world's premier track and field coaches. The list of all-time greats coached by Kersee includes Olympic gold medalist and UCLA great Gail Devers and National Track & Field Hall of Famers and Bruin great Greg Foster, Valerie Brisco and his wife, UCLA great Jackie Joyner-Kersee. From 1985-93 he was the UCLA women's head coach and since 1993, Kersee has been a volunteer assistant on Jeanette Bolden's UCLA staff.
Kersee added to his legacy this year when 2000 Olympic women's 200m silver medalist Allyson Felix won the gold medal in that event at the World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki, Finland. With her victory, Felix became the first teenager (19) ever to win a world sprint title. She joined Inger Miller (1999) and Marion Jones (2001) as the only American women ever to win a 200m world outdoor crown.
In addition to winning the USA Outdoor title and the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2005, Felix posted the three-fastest women's 200m times in the world of 22.13, 22.14 and 22.16. She also set new personal bests in the 100 meters (11.05) and 400 meters (51.12).
Under Kersee's tutelage, 2004 Olympic heptathlete and Bruin great Michelle Perry made the switch to the 100m hurdles and was the best in the world at that event all season, culminating with her gold medal winning performance on a cold and windy evening at the 2005 World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki. Perry won the gold medal decisively in 12.66 seconds.
Perry, who posted six of the top seven times in the world this season in the 100m hurdles, ran the fastest time globally this year of 12.43 seconds in the semifinals at the USA Outdoor Championships in June. She won the USA Outdoor title by running 12.66 in the final.
Another one of Kersee's pupils, 2004 Olympic gold medalist and UCLA great Joanna Hayes, was poised to win a medal in the 100m hurdles women's final in Helsinki until she hit the ninth hurdle. Hayes' runner-up finish to Perry at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City in 12.47 seconds was the fourth-fastest time in the world this season.
"I am grateful to everyone at USA Track & Field and Nike for this high honor," said Kersee. "I've always believed in winning medals, and it's the responsibility of coaches to keep raising the bar with our athletes to take them to a higher level. It all began with Jackie (Joyner-Kersee) Valerie Brisco and Gail Devers, and it's continuing now with Allyson Felix, Michelle Perry, Joanna Hayes and Sheena Johnson. With our success this year it feels that everything has come back around full circle."
The President of the Board of Directors of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Boys & Girls Club in East St. Louis, Ill., Kersee served as the Women's Sprints/Hurdles coach for Team USA at the 2005 World Outdoor Championships.
"Bobby Kersee has proven that he is one of the greatest coaches in our sport's history," said USAT F CEO Craig Masback. "Thanks in large part to Kersee's guidance, Allyson and Michelle were the best in the world at their respective events this year. Kersee's contributions to the unrivaled success of Team USA are legendary, and he is richly deserving of this honor."