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Vote now for your favorite Montgomery County coach!

Click the button below a coach's photo to cast your ballot(s). Everyone is eligible to vote, and may vote as often as they wish, in as many categories as they wish, now through Tuesday, November 20.

Winners will be based on the number of votes received, and there will be only one winner at each level, so tell your friends, family and neighbors to vote as well to help lead your favorite coach to victory.

Each of the winning coaches will receive no less than a prize(s) to be announced!

See official rules.

High School Boys Varsity Finalists


Jonathan Eising
Co-ed Varsity Golf
James Hubert Blake High School

“I love the sport of golf and I love to inspire young adults to go further than they think they can,” says Jonathan Eising, co-ed varsity golf coach at James Hubert Blake High School in Siver Spring about why he coaches. If he weren’t coaching, the school’s director of bands would be “spending more time with my wife, 3-and-a-half year old and 6-month old.”

Eising’s favorite moment as a coach comes each year “at our end-of-season banquet when I present awards and speak about each golfer's individual achievements publically to parents, students and friends of the James H. Blake golf program.”

College football is the sport Eising most likes to watch live. “I got my undergraduate degree in music education at the University of Oklahoma and was in the band, where I had the chance to travel all across the country and be at nearly every game, both home and away. This was enough to get me hooked for life!” His favorite sport to watch on TV golf “because I know how difficult it is to do the things the pros are able to do and it is amazing to watch.”

When it comes to advice, the best Eising has been given as a coach came from his first athletic director, who “told me to focus on the fundamentals with my students and the rest will sort itself out.” The advice he gives to student athletes is to “work hard and learn from your mistakes.”

It was Gene "Coach" Thrailkill, the now retired director of bands, who taught for 30 years at the University of Oklahoma, who most influenced Eising. “When I left home in Laytonsville, Maryland for college at OU, I didn't know a soul, but coach created a family away from home for me to connect to. Over the course of his career he mentored thousands of students and is to this day one of the most genuine, giving and loving people I know.”

The person Eising most admires is Richmond Sparks - director of athletic bands at the University of Maryland. “He led the entire Mighty Sound of Maryland Marching Band, and me as a graduate assistant, to New Orleans to team up with Habitat for Humanity after Hurricane Katrina. We spent a week rebuilding houses on the ‘Musicians’ Village’ project conceived by New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis.

Ibrahim Nhabay | Nomination essay

Todd Garner
Varsity Swimming and Diving Coach
Quince Orchard High School

Why does Todd Garner coach? “I want to give back to the sport. I was an avid swimmer growing up in this area. I feel a strong connection to the sport and community.” If Garner wasn’t coaching, he’d be better rested. “As a father of three boys under the age of 7, I hope I would be able to get more sleep. I should also spend some of my free time doing whatever my wife told me to do!”

The varsity swimming and diving coach at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Garner is a 6th-grade social studies teacher at nearby Ridgeview Middle School. While Garner agrees that “winning is great,” his motivation comes from “being witness to the growth and development of the athletes I work with…I celebrate personal goal achievement with the athletes, I am as excited as they are when they achieve a new personal best time.”

Garner’s favorite sport to watch live is “Capitals ice hockey. It's the coolest sport on earth. Really, it goes back to growing up, we've always been fans, my friends and family.” Among televised sports, he most enjoys “Redskins football...the environment, the food, being a Redskins fan means something around here; we're all friends, even if we've never met.”

The best advice Garner has received as a coach is to “be yourself. If you try to coach or be like someone else, kids will see right through you. They have to respect you.” His advice to student athletes is to “be patient! Consistently work hard any enjoy the sport; when you are able to do that you'll reap the benefits of your hard work.”

All of Garner's coaches influenced him to some degree while he was “growing up. I was often not the easiest child to deal with, but they showed me patience and gentle prodding when necessary. Hopefully, I have been able to borrow a little of each of their personalities to help shape my coaching style today.”

Garner admires his fellow Montgomery County teacher-coaches. “We work so hard all day and extend our days for practices and weekends for games and meets. The fact that this award exists and that I have been nominated really means a lot, because we all deserve recognition.”

Jeremy Liu | Nomination essay

Rebekah Harrison-Dietz
Varsity Track and Field Coach
James Hubert Blake High School

“I coach to try to help inspire others, to inspire them to love the game and to grow and learn through playing sports,” says Rebekah Harrison-Dietz. “I have had so many wonderful experiences playing sports, and have made so many amazing friends and relationships and I want to pass that on to the next generation. I want to help students and athletes to learn all of the many life lessons gained through playing sports; to work hard, have integrity, overcome challenges, and to never give up.”

Harrison-Dietz is the varsity track and field coach at James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring. She also coaches girls’ JV field hockey at Springbrook High School, where she is a science teacher. If she wasn’t coaching, she’d be “bored.”

When it comes to her favorite moment as a coach, Harrison-Dietz notes that “every day that I can go out and coach and teach athletes to play the game is a highlight for me.” Her favorite sport to watch on TV is track and field but when it comes to attending a live sporting event most any sport will do.

The best advice she’s been given as a coach is “to be patient.” Her advice to student athletes is “a phrase that I have passed on from my high school track coach, Gary Frace: ‘Go home, eat a good dinner, get your homework done, and go to bed.’”

Harrison-Dietz has had “so many amazing coaches throughout my athletic career and have been very lucky to have their support and guidance. Two coaches I truly admire are Kierny Blandamere and Lesley Stroot who were my high school field hockey coaches at Springbrook High School and were an inspiration for me during my athletic career and have continued to be a huge support and inspiration throughout my coaching career.”

Dallas Wilson | Nomination essay

Larry A. Hurd, Jr.
Varsity Football Coach
Clarksburg High School

“I coach because of the feeling you get when a group of players and coaches come together and strive to achieve the same goal. I coach to see the development of the players in the program as players, students, and young men,” says Larry A. Hurd Jr., varsity football coach at Clarksburg High School.

Passionate about coaching, Hurd, an alternative education teacher at the school, has “no idea” what he’d be doing if he weren’t coaching. “Anyone that knows me knows my life revolves around the next game.” Hurd’s favorite moment as a coach “is when former players come back to visit and tell stories of their success. Every time that happens, it makes me proud to have played a role in their lives.”

Hurd’s favorite sport to watch live is football. “The atmosphere is second to none.” The same holds true for televised sports. “Football is the most exciting sport to me on television.”

The best advice he’s been given as a coach “is just to work hard every day to prepare your athletes for success not only on the field or court, but in life. As a coach, you should try to put your athletes in the best position for them to be successful.”

“Never be afraid to fail” is the advice Hurd gives student athletes. “Every challenge should be taken on with the best of their ability and if they do that, they won't have to look back and ask themselves why they didn't give their all or what would have happened if they had given their all.”

There are two coaches who influenced Hurd. “My father, Larry Hurd, Sr., instilled the work ethic and drive that keeps me going every day. Paul Foringer, head basketball coach and JV football coach at Quince Orchard High School, instills a great discipline in his players. He teaches you to be mentally tough. He teaches you how to be a winner.”

Hurd greatly admires two other coaches. “Fred Swick, head girls basketball coach at Poolesville High School is the man. He is a winner. He is totally dedicated to his sport and his athletes. He is a tireless work. Anyone that knows Fred knows that he is just a role model to everyone. Mike Riley, former Clarksburg High School athletic director taught me what it meant to be a true professional in my job. He hired me as a very young coach and taught me step by step what it took to be a high school coach.”

Joseph Nacci | Nomination essay

Greg Jolles
Varsity Boys Lacrosse
Paint Branch High School

“The reason I coach lacrosse is because I love the sport. I have played lacrosse since I was in 4th grade. Once I graduated from Paint Branch, I decided to come back and become an assistant coach instead of play in college. I always wanted to keep lacrosse in my life after I was finished playing and what better way than to coach at the school where I played,” says Greg Jolles, varsity boys lacrosse coach at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.

Jolles currently works in catering and does bartending at Cava Restaurant. If he weren’t coaching, “I'm not actually sure what I would be doing but it definitely would have something to do with the sport, perhaps running a youth league or a camp. I always wanted to be a teacher and a high school coach once I graduated college.”

As for favorite moments as a coach, Jolles can think of two. “My first one being when Paint Branch's athletic director, Heather Podosek, notified me and told me I got the job. It was just a great feeling to know that I was able to fulfill my dream of coaching. Another moment that means a lot to me as a coach was while attending graduation, a couple players came up to me after and thanked me for everything I did for them. It keeps reminding you why we actually get into coaching.”

Jolles’ favorite sport to watch live is college lacrosse. “I enjoy going to college games because of the speed and skill of the game. It’s during the spring, so it’s always nice weather to go out and see a game. During the season, we take the Paint Branch team to Maryland games whenever we can. It’s also enjoyable to go to because of the passion of college sports. As a lacrosse coach, I also try to take ideas that I see during the game.”

When it comes to televised sports, football is Jolles’ favorite. “As a lifetime Miami Dolphins fan living in Maryland, it’s hard to see the Dolphins live so I usually watch it on TV. Football is always enjoyable to watch on TV when you’re just relaxing on Sunday with a group of friends.”

The best advice he’s been given as a coach is “never do it for a paycheck. It’s true, if you are just in coaching for a paycheck, you are in it for the wrong reason. The best coaches are the ones who have a passion for the game and are able to pass it on to their players. My passion for the game and coaching is visible to my team through my actions and emotions, no matter the outcome of the game. Whether it’s a win or a loss, it’s always a learning experience.”

Jolles’ advice to student athletes is that “school is always priority number one. The title is the best explanation. You are a student first, athlete second. The role of student comes before the role of athlete because in order to perform on the field, you need to perform in the classroom first. At some point in life, you are going to be done playing the game. You will never be done being a student. Whether you are a student of the game as an athlete or a student of life, you never stop learning.”

Kevin Eagan is the coach who most influenced Jolles and who he most admires. “Kevin Eagan was the lacrosse coach while I was at Paint Branch. When I was a freshman, I was first introduced to Coach Eagan during football practice when he was an assistant to the football team. During lacrosse season, it was easy to see which sport he had more of a passion for. As I went through Paint Branch as a student each lacrosse season, I learned more and more from Coach Eagan. He kept the team laughing everyday but when it was time to be serious, the team knew. He showed that it can be fun but serious at the same time. As I goalie for him, I could see how much coaching meant to him. Every day he would come with his iconic coffee cup that everyone knew him for. You could tell he was tired from breaking down game film in to the late hours of the night after games so we could fix what we needed to in practice. He always put so much into his teams. As I saw this every day, I knew that I wanted to become a coach and once I graduated Paint Branch, I become his assistant. In the three years I assisted him, I was able to take so much from him that I could use and be successful the day I became a head coach. I admire him because he was not a teacher so it was always hard come March when he needed to get out of work early for practice. Most days he would have to go back to work after practice. He put everything he had into coaching and his passion was evident. He showed me how much someone can take from coaching and how big of an impact you could have on some kids’ lives. He left me with so much to make sure I can be successful coaching this sport. I still have a close relationship with him and it’s nice to have him if I ever needed anything.

Bakary Boujang | Nomination essay

David Mencarini
Varsity Football Coach
Quince Orchard High School

David Mencarini coaches in order to “help take young men and build them into young adults by the time they leave high school while building life-long relationships.” If he weren’t coaching, Mencarini would be “miserable,” says the varsity football coach at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg.

A teacher at Quince Orchard as well, Mencarini’s favorite moment as a coach was “winning the 2007 State Championship.” The sport he most enjoys seeing live is hockey, for its “non-stop action” and watching on TV is football, as it “gives me a different perspective than the sidelines.”

The best advice he’s been given as a coach: “Don't be afraid to make the hard decisions.” His advice to student athletes is “to always be humble and hungry in the pursuit of your goals.”

Mencarini’s dad is the coach who was most influential in his life. “He has been coaching for 43 years. I used to be the water boy, ball boy, etc. for his teams when I was kid. I grew up on the sidelines. He is one of my assistant coaches now at Quince Orchard.”

There are many coaches who Mencarini admires. “I try to take bits and pieces that I learn about of each and apply them to my coaching philosophy. I really admire Nick Saban for his competitive drive. I also admire former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen for how big his heart was towards his players.”

Tyrell Williams | Nomination essay

Dan Reeks
Varsity Cross Country, Indoor/Outdoor Track and Fi
Sherwood High School

The reason Dan Reeks coaches is for “the joy of teaching student-athletes the sports of cross country and track and field; helping student-athletes like Robel Kebede learn and enjoy the sports of cross country and track and field and then use it, like I was able to, to go to university. It’s great to see young people grow, to set goals and meet them, to know they are responsible for their own efforts and results,” says the Sherwood High School cross country and indoor/outdoor track and field coach.

A retired high school social studies teacher, Reeks taught and coached in MCPS for 39 years, first at Northwood, then at Wheaton, James Hubert Blake, Winston Churchill and Sherwood. He coached cross country at Montgomery College from 1983-1998.

If Reeks wasn't coaching, he’d be “traveling, seeing our grandchildren and children - my son lives in Brazil and is a documentary filmmaker; my daughter lives in Maine, is a nurse in the neuro ICU - seeing new places. And, perhaps, reading a bit more.”

Reeks has experienced too many wonderful moments as a coach to identify a single favorite moment. But, one that springs to mind is “the first state cross country championship in 1975 at Northwood. The favorite moments are when former student athletes come by to see the team, and when they send notes or tell me in person, ‘Thank You for helping me grow and teaching me the value of persistence.’”

His favorite sports to watch on TV? “Track and field first. There’s so much involved in a meet. Then, cross country meets - seeing the mental chess games. Football for the action. Soccer and basketball for teamwork and constant movement. Volleyball because I learned and played doubles on beaches in California where I grew up.”

“A well directed and produced track and field meet,” is Reeks’ top choice among televised sports. “Then, football because of action and athleticism, and because so many of the upper-level players, like Robert Griffin III, were track and field athletes.”

The best advice Reeks been given as a coach is to be patient, follow our plan, it will work out. His advice to student athletes is to “learn to advocate for yourself. You're becoming an adult, so you need to be responsible for your actions. And, the old adage, ‘Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win.’”

It was Tom Mason, a freelance coach in Los Angeles, “who taught me consistency and pacing I still use today. Next, my high school coach, William O'Rourke of Palos Verdes High School in Palos Verdes, California. Then, Kerry Ward, who coached at B-CC and Whitman high schools. He was a fountain of well-developed ideas and change. I still use his workouts.”

The coach Reeks most admires is “Greg Dunston, now at Georgetown Prep - so innovative, always trying to get kids involved, trying to keep the sport alive and interesting.”

Robel Kebede | Nomination essay

Melissa Trusty
Boys and Girls Varsity Cross Country
James Hubert Blake High School

“I absolutely love cross country and distance running. I wanted to give back to the younger generation and share my knowledge and passion of the sport with them, like my great coaches did for me. I want to give my athletes the knowledge of the sport in addition to learning the value of preparation, hard work, discipline, perseverance and commitment,” says Melissa Trusty, the boys and girls varsity cross country coach at James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring. If Trusty weren’t coaching, she’d be “running.”

Her favorite moment as a coach was “seeing my girl’s team go undefeated this season in their division and becoming the MCPS Division IV Cross Country Champions. This was the first time for Blake High School since 2006!”

Long distance running and distance track events are her favorite sport to watch live and on TV “because I love seeing other athletes pushing themselves to the extreme to achieve a goal. It inspires me to do the same and continue to train hard.”

The best advice she’s been given as a coach is “to have fun and that the team may need me to believe they can do certain things even when they don't believe in themselves. As a coach you are their number one supporter."

Trusty’s advice to student athletes is a quote from William James, a late 19th-century philosopher and psychologist: Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction. “I wanted the athletes to believe and know that they are capable of pushing themselves and achieving a level of greatness way beyond what their mind or body may be telling them they can achieve. If the athletes can learn how to bust through the obstruction they could be a completely different athlete.”

It was Mr. Irvan, “who was not my high school cross-country coach but who graciously took me under his wing and trained and mentored me throughout my high school and college running career,” who was influential in Trusty’s development. “He inspired me to be the best runner I could possibly be and pushed me to a level of training that I wasn’t aware I was capable of achieving. Going through high school as the only girl on an all-boys cross country team and racing in boys’ races because my school did not have a girl’s team; he helped me grow as an athlete to compete against the boys!”

The coach Trusty most admires is Mr. Simmons, “who passed away while I was in college. He challenged me in every way possible to be the best athlete I can be and push through my obstructions. He was not my high school coach, but was a coach of another local school that saw my talent and took me under his wing and mentored me in distance running.”

Grayson Boone | Nomination essay

Joe Vukovich
Varsity Wrestling Coach
Northwest High School

Why does Joe Vukovich coach? To create “a connection with my students beyond the classroom. Also, watching the kids grow from being a part of the sport of wrestling is extremely rewarding,” says the varsity wrestling coach at Northwest High School in Germantown. Vukovich currently teaches social studies at Northwest. Were he not coaching, he would be “a personal trainer or fitness guru.”

Vukovich’s favorite moment as a coach comes from “watching any wrestler of mine getting their hand raised after winning a match. To me this symbolizes hard work paying off.”

His favorite sport to watch live is Major League Baseball. “I like the slower pace of play. It makes for a nice mix of a social gathering rapped up inside of a competitive environment. When it comes to televised sports, he turns to the National Football League. “I play fantasy football. It is addictive. This makes watch games each week much more interesting.”

The best advice Vukovich, now in his 15th season as a coach, has been given is that “you can learn lessons from losing just as much as you can from winning.” His advice to others is that “coaches can get overly involved with accomplishments such as winning championships and winning the ‘big match.’ Take the time to enjoy the small accomplishments because they very much can go unnoticed and they happen every day.”

The coach Vukovich most admires and who greatly influenced him is Ed Heincelman. “He was my high school wrestling coach at Rockville High School. I also had the pleasure of coaching along aside of Ed at Northwest for nine years. Ed taught me how to be a winner. He taught me what winning was all about. He taught me that being a winner was not only about your win-lose record, but about a mentality that you carry and exhibit on a daily basis. The best thing about Ed was the he never taught me through explanations; he taught me through his actions and how he carried himself.”

Jeff Moreno | Nomination essay

R. Youngblood
Varsity Cross Country, Indoor/Outdoor Track Coach
Northwest High School

“I coach because I want to help educate and get students ready to make it in the next phase of their lives, the world after graduation. The ‘Man Upstairs’ put me here for a reason and I want the students to know there is so much they can do with their lives. Though I never push my faith or religion on anyone, I want them to know life is incredible if you at least believe in your faith, yourself... and never give up,” says R. Youngblood, varsity cross country and indoor/outdoor track coach at Northwest High School.

Known affectionately as “Blood,” “Y-B” or “Coach Blood,” Youngblood was named coach of the year in the county and All-Met coach of the year in 2009 while coaching at Damascus High School. He previously has coached at John F. Kennedy and Frederick high schools. Youngblood also teaches “basketball to students who don't have the opportunity to go to camp.” His chess team “is the largest in Maryland and has won several state and national titles here at Northwest.

An art instructor and “instructor of life” at Northwest, Youngblood says if he weren’t coaching he might well be “riding my road bike across the U.S. I've ridden to North Carolina, Hershey Park, and well I just love it.”

His favorite moment as a coach “had to be seeing a kid who was physically challenged run her first and only 5K race for me at Damascus. I, and my team, worked with her daily ’til she was able to make two miles before I let her do a race.” This is a young woman, who on the “first day could only run approximately 50 meters that were painful. It was incredible as all of my runners who had finished went back to run behind her, encouraging her with each step - it was such a great thing to see - ’til she came within the final 100 meters and ran across the finish line by herself into my arms! It took over an hour and other teams had left...but we knew she could do it. I've had others who ‘won’ state titles and more... but to see her ‘win’... this was the best. This was incredible.”

Soccer is Youngblood’s favorite sport to watch live. “No idea why but to see the skill set of an individual blend in with others and to play matches that long for hardly a score but yet waiting for that one defining moment when they do score or lead to a score or do something amazing is just a thrill.”

The best advice he’s been given as a coach is, “‘Coach the way you believe and live, because you have something that others can’t see.’ I never knew what this person meant but it's so cool to see so many in later life and say, ‘Remember that book you had me read when you first met me?’ ‘Can you come to my wedding?’ ‘Do you know I still have that drawing you had me do back in high school?’”

The best advice he’s offered a student athlete? “Don't ever tell me ‘I can't’ because can’t is for losers and you are not a loser. You may not be the best at it but you can do it! I stress this with kids who are less fortunate or limited for some reason who would die for the chance to just compete. Whenever a kid says ‘I can’t,’ the entire team does pushups right then and the one who said it stands and calls them out. The team must look up at this person as they are doing the pushups. We will not accept this ‘I can’t’ attitude in anything in life.”

Coach H. Tolbert of Gaithersburg, and Coach/Teacher R. Surrette and Coach Colbert of Eleanor Roosevelt High School are the coaches who most influenced Youngblood. “Coach Colbert got me into running when I was a kid and to believe that I could do anything. When I started coaching in Montgomery County, I watched the coach of Gaithersburg who seemed like such an incredible role model. The way he put kids’ lives before running was the way it's supposed to be. And Mr. Surrette was just an inspiration as I was just into teaching and saw the way he smiled and laughed but yet got his point across to everyone.”

As for the coach Youngblood most admires? “This might sound corny but it would be Christ, the ‘Man Upstairs.’ I know there are coaches here on earth who have done so much, but to lend a hand and give of oneself is what it's all about. To see a person pick themselves up and do more from within starts with the belief in oneself and that was shown to me throughout my life as I know ‘He’ is always there for everyone.”

Donnie Gaines | Nomination essay


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