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1998 Coach of the Year
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Don -- Minor
Bonita Vista High School Chula - Vista, California

When he started playing golf at the ripe "old"? age of 12, Don Minor didn't see himself making his living in the golfing business. It's merely another classic example of how time can change things including one's career path. "My parents started me playing golf, and it was just something fun to do"? said Minor, who has guided Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista, California to prominence among San Diego area schools. It wasn't unusual to start at that age then. Today, that's a very late age for a tournament golfer to start playing.

Not only did Minor come late to playing the game of golf, he came late to coaching it as well. Retired from the U.S. Navy after serving 27 years as a fighter pilot, he has become one of golf's guiding forces in southern California. But Minor comes earlier than any other high school golf coach to national honors. The National High School Coaches Association is honoring Minor as its inaugural National High School Golf Coach of the Year for 1998.

The head coach at Bonita Vista High since 1995, Minor has continued the school's excellence in the competitive San Diego Section. Bonita Vista has won six consecutive Metro League championships, and in 1996, qualified for the state championships with a second-place section finish as a team. That team went on to finish seventh in the state tournament. This year's Bonita Vista squad went 13-1 in its first 14 dual meets. Though he started playing golf at a relatively late age, Minor showed an aptitude for the game. He played four years for his high school team, then earned three varsity letters at Oregon State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1965.

Upon graduation from college, Minor was accepted into the Navy's flight training program. For the next 27 years, he would have no formal association with the sport. Minor earned his Navy pilot wings in 1967. By the time he retired in 1992 with the rank of Captain, he had racked up 5,500 flight hours and 849 carrier landings. Oh, by the way, accompanied by many rounds of golf. "I did get to play a lot of golf at some really beautiful courses all around the world,"? Minor said. "Golf was fun. But that was the extent of my involvement with it."

Then Minor landed with the San Diego County Golf Association. In 1994, he became the tournament director of the Junior World Golf Championships, the world's oldest and largest international junior golf championship event. Last year's event, the 31st Annual, attracted about 870 participants in four age divisions ranging up to age 17, including 250 from 35 foreign countries. American participants qualify through their state, while the majority of foreign contestants are selected by their respective golf governing bodies.

"The thing that makes the Junior Worlds unique is the extensive foreign participation,"? Minor said. "We have state qualifying here, but you don't see that in many foreign countries, where they pick who they want to attend. We have our first entry from Morocco this year, and that's exciting."

"The college coaches love it, too. The Junior World is their chance to see the elite golfers compete, not just from the United States, but from all over the world. Last year, we had the girls junior champion from Taiwan come to compete in the Junior Worlds, and she earned a scholarship and is now playing at a school here in the United States." The Junior World Championships is just one of a myriad of events today available to junior-age golfers. "It's amazing how many events there are now,"? Minor said. "Even 10 years ago, there weren't that many events. Now, you can go to an event every week if you want. Some parents say they budget as much as $15,000 per year for their son or daughter's junior golf schedule. That's a lot of money, but they look at it as an investment. If their child earns a college scholarship as a result of playing that schedule, then that investment has paid off."

The effect of the enforcement of Title IX has been an increase in opportunities for girls "but not necessarily an increase in participation" and that is one of Minor's challenges in his current full-time post as executive director of the San Diego County Junior Golf Association.

"Any decent girl golfer has an excellent chance of getting a scholarship just about any place," Minor said. "There's much more competition among the boys. If you look at our membership in San Diego County, in the 15-17 age group, we've got about 350 boys who are members, but only about 20 girls. I don't know what the reason is. We've really tried hard to get the girls' membership up, but it's been tough."

"There are so many quality boy golfers out there, there's not enough room for all of them. The golf coach at Sacramento State is dividing up scholarships among the boys for 10 spots. But they can't find enough girls to fill the 10 girls' spots. They've never had 10 girls. "If I'd have been smart, I'd have had my daughter playing golf." Minor's military experience has more than compensated for his lack of teaching experience in working with high school golfers. "I had to work with many young sailors, many not much older than the high school golfers I coach now,"? he said. "In both cases, you have a lot of control over their lives, that's for sure. You have to motivate them to be mature, productive individuals. Golf is a game that teaches maturity. It's a game of failure. Sometimes you'll hit a bad drive, or three-putt a green, and you have to learn to just let it go, to concentrate on the next hole. Some kids with all the talent in the world never learn that. The ones that are successful are the ones that control their emotions through the good shots and the bad shots." Minor's actual path to the Bonita Vista position was aided by his involvement with his son Mark's golfing career. Think Don started late? Mark didn't pick up a club until he was 13, in 1990. Bu, like father like son, Mark learned the game quickly. Today Mark is the No. 1 golfer at Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz, California.

When Mark was a golfer at Bonita Vista, the team needed scorekeepers, so Don was among the volunteers. When an assistant coach was needed, Don again came to the rescue. After two years on the staff, the head coach was transferred to another campus. Though school district personnel were given preference in hiring, no staff members expressed an interest.

So Minor was hired. It's been a win-win situation all the way around. "Because of my involvement with the Junior Golf Association, it works out great for the school,"? he said. "My dad tells me I've got the best retirement job in the world." 

 

Tennis -- Jim Poston
Montgomery Bell Academy - Nashville, Tennessee
Head Tennis Coach is just one of many titles that would describe Jim Poston's lengthy and successful tenure at one of Nashville's best-known private schools, Montgomery Bell Academy.

MBA is also one of the most exclusive. Its alumni include the Frist family, one of Nashville's best-known families. Tommy Frist was one of Poston's state tennis champions, while brother Billy was a state wrestling champion for MBA in 1989. Poston is retiring this year after 41 years as a high school tennis coach, 36 of those years at MBA. Like many coaches, Poston didn't grow up with a tennis background. He was a member of Belmont University's first graduating class in 1955 (Belmont is just around the corner from Vanderbilt University) with a degree in speech and drama, and became an English teacher and assistant tennis coach at MBA in 1957 under a mentor Poston considers a legend, Jim Rule. He left MBA in 1968 to assume the head coaching position at Pine Crest High in Fort Lauderdale, but returned to Nashville to succeed Rule as head coach in 1975. He's been there ever since.

On the eve of his retirement, Poston, who has devoted over 40 years of his life to tennis and education, not necessarily in that order, is the National High School Coaches Association's inaugural National High School Tennis Coach of the Year for 1998.

"Jim Rule was the one who laid the groundwork, well before Jim Poston came along," Poston told the Nashville Tennessean. "I just carried it on."

Poston does receive the credit, however, for many other "firsts"? in the MBA community. The school didn't have a drama department when he arrived, but he filled the need by starting one in 1960. Sensing the students' need to act and to perform, he produced and directed plays. It was Poston who kept the arts alive at MBA until they became part of the curriculum several years later.

"We did our first production in the Vine Street Christian Church,"? Poston said. "We've done shows like Oliver, Grease, The Fantastiks, Godspell, Our Town, a lot of variety. We try to do shows that you can adapt to high school casts. Many times, we've recycled shows, too."

And Poston also receives the credit for going beyond the call of duty every day to be one of the beacons of the MBA community. He's not just a teacher and coach. He's a mentor and friend.

Getting back to tennis for a moment, Poston's teams at MBA have a dual-meet record of 330-59, and have won district and region titles every year Poston has been the head coach. He also has served as district chairman each of those years. The Big Red have advanced to the Final Four state tournament every year since the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) adopted the current state tournament format in 1988, winning state titles in 1987 and 1995 and also finishing second twice. His final team is heavily favored to help him finish his career with a third state title and the first in the state's newly created Division II, which includes schools that award need-based financial aid.

In 1979, 1984, and 1987, Poston was nominated by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for the National Coach of the Year award.In 1987 that organization voted him its Regional Coach of the Year, which made him one of eight finalists for National Coach of the Year honors.

At the state level, Poston was elected Tennessee Coach of the Year three times, in 1986, 1987, and 1995. He also has been active in youth tennis. He has hosted the Tennessee Tennis Association's Adult and Junior State Championships; the Southern Tennis Association's Boys and Girls age 18 championships; and the United States Tennis Association's Boys and Girls age 12 championships.

In March, Poston earned a singular honor, becoming the first tennis coach to be inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame. In addition to his coaching duties, he has served the TSSAA as director of the state tennis tournaments for the past two decades.

But Poston is the first to admit that he has had outstanding talent to work with at MBA. "It was really special, working with all the great players. I had a chance to coach,"? Poston said. "I served in an administrative capacity, coordinating things and carrying out discipline when I had to, to keep things going. You only work with a kid as a tennis player about six weeks a year as a high school coach. The really good ones have a good work ethic and put in the time year round. The kids that are willing to work hard are the kids that are most successful."

And many MBA students are. It's not uncommon for athletes to arrive at school at 6 AM. "Physical Education classes are not a part of the regular school day,"? Poston said. "You have to be involved in two out of the regular three seasons. For instance, in the fall season, there's intramural tennis, cross-country, football, and so on. There is basketball and wrestling in the winter. We have about 75 % of the student body participating. There were 86 kids on the basketball team; nobody gets cut. I've got 17 on the tennis team this year."

But tennis is just a small part of Jim Poston's years of contributions to the MBA community. In addition to starting the school's drama program, Poston also started the school's speech and debate programs and was an avid supporter of its art and music programs. "Many changes have happened at MBA over the years," Poston said. "Mr. Francis Carter, the headmaster when I came here, was a great leader and very supportive. But he was an old-school man who really concentrated on academics. Over the years, we've developed a well-rounded program of activities and we have a lot of participation. You've got to have change or you don't survive."?

Poston's music interest is based on real-life experience. A Shriner for many years, Poston is a member of the Oriental Band of Al Menah Temple, and is a past president of the Southeastern Shrine Oriental Bands Association. And there were other causes. When student safety began presenting itself as an issue, Poston organized a program for all seventh and eighth graders at MBA and also teaches a Drug and Sex Education course to junior high students. For students in their high school years, Poston works with police in the school's Belle Meade neighborhood on a DUI prevention program, and organized the acclaimed Project Graduation, a drug-free party for the seniors that has attained a 100 per cent participation rate. It is acclaimed as one of the most successful events of the senior season.

Always sought after for his advice and counsel, Poston also was the school's first guidance counselor, assuming that role on a part-time basis. When the school's growth dictated a need for professional counseling expertise, Poston returned to graduate school to obtain certification as a counselor. Previously the principal of the Junior School, he relinquished that post to concentrate full-time on his counseling duties.

Still, Poston teaches a ninth-grade English class and enjoys every minute of it. "It's a family here,"? Poston said. "It's fun now to have the sons of former students with me in my classes." The decision to retire was a difficult one, but at age 65, Poston says the time has come. "My wife taught in the Nashville public schools for 26 years, and she retired last year,"? Poston said. "I originally was going to retire at 62, but then I decided that it just wasn't the time. I'm sure a lot of memories will pass May 28, when we have graduation at MBA." But not before he tries to guide one last team over the top. 

 

Wrestling -- Wayne Branstetter
Poway High School - Poway, California
Wayne's teams have been among California's best, year after year. Despite the loss of a state place winner to a late season injury, Poway finished a strong third place in a state tournament this year and posted a #17 final national ranking, its third in seven years. 

 

Wrestling -- Scot Davis
Owatonna High School - Owatonna, Minnesota
Scot's Owatonna team won its first Class AAA dual state title this year, posting a 41-1 overall record and a final # 8 national ranking. He has led Owatonna to the state dual tournament three consecutive years. 

 

Wrestling -- Don Rohn
Northampton High School - Northampton, Pennsylvania
Rohn was named Coach of the Year for leading the Konkrete Kids to their fourth Class AAA state title of the 1990 's. The unofficial national champions in 1993, Northampton finished this season with the # 5 national ranking. 

 

Wrestling -- Greg Urbas
Saint Edward High School - Lakewood, Ohio
Urbas had big shoes to fill when he replaced the legendary coach Howard Ferguson as coach of the top wrestling program in Ohio and one of the best in the nation. Known for his tireless efforts to advance all of the wrestlers on to college, Urbas let St. Edward's to its second straight Division I state title and, with a 17-0 record, a second unofficial national championship in seven years.

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