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Coaches Bernier, Cohen and Gee Finalists for 2017 NHSACA Coach of the Year Honors

Created at 1/23/2017 10:35 AM  by Ron Knapp 
Last modified at 1/23/2017 10:35 AM  by Ron Knapp 

The National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) has announced the advancement of Corey Bernier (Tolland HS), Michael Cohen (Simsbury HS), and Jeff Gee (Wilton HS) as finalists for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association national coach of the year in the sports of Girls’ Track and Field, Boys Cross Country and Girls Cross Country respectively. Eight finalists from across the nation will be honored during The National Coach of the Year Awards Banquet, which will take place at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s national convention at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria, IL on the evening of June 21, 2017. The highlight of the banquet will be the naming of the NHSACA national coach of the year in nineteen recognized sports categories. Connecticut coaches who have recently received NHSACA Coach of the Year honors include Deborah Petruzzello (Middletown HS, 2016, Girls' Track and Field), Robert Orgovan (Amity HS, 2014, Boys' Cross Country), Carl Reichard (East Lyme HS, 2014, Girls' Track and Field), James Ford (Guilford HS, 2013, Girls’ Cross Country), Mark Logan (RHAM HS, 2005, Girls’ Track and Field), Gary Makowicki (Norwich Free Academy, 2003, Girls’ Track and Field) and James Ford (Guilford HS, 2001, Boys’ Cross Country).

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Corey Bernier  It is with great pleasure that the National High School Athletic Coaches Association announces the advancement of Corey Bernier from Tolland High School as a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association national coach of the year in the sport of Girls’ Track and Field. Eight finalists from across the nation will be honored during The National Coach of the Year Awards Banquet which will take place at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s national convention at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria, IL on the evening of June 21, 2017. The highlight of the banquet will be the naming of the NHSACA national coach of the year in nineteen recognized sports categories.

Coach Corey Bernier was selected for this national honor by their state’s high school coaches’ association. This selection was based on longevity, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years, and winning percentage. The nominees and finalists are evaluated by experts in the field of coaching using a sport-specific rubrics to assign points in each category. The National High School Athletic Coaches Association is the oldest coaches association in the nation formed by coaches, for coaches, and has been recognizing national coaches of the year since 1978.

Coach Bernier has enjoyed a successful career at Tolland High School over the past thirteen years as the Head Girls’ Track and Field Coach where he led Tolland to a 216-win and 10-loss record that included 7 undefeated seasons. While serving as the head coach, Tolland has won 7 state championship and 10 division championship while finishing as runner-up 3 times. The state track and field championships included 1 Indoor Open title (2015), 3 Indoor Class M titles (2014, ‘15, ‘16), 1 Outdoor Open title (2015) and 7 Outdoor Class M titles (2007, ‘09, ‘12, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16). In 2015, Tolland was the first high school in state history to win the State Open Championships in Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field.

Coach Bernier has been instrumental in the success of many individuals, as Tolland has garnered 126 All Conference athletes, 42 All-State athletes, 17 All New England athletes and 12 All-Americans. His athletes currently hold or have set state outdoor records in the 300m Hurdles, 400m Hurdles, 4x800m relay and 4xmile relay.

Coach Bernier has also volunteered his time and experience to several state committees including the CIAC Indoor Track Committee as the CTHSCA representative (2011-2016), the CIAC Outdoor Track Committee as the CTHSCA representative (2013-2016) and the CT High School Coaches Association as an organizer for the Indoor Track and Field All-State Banquet (2011-2016). On the local level, Coach Bernier has served as liaison to Athletic Directors for the Central Connecticut Conference (2010-2016), the Central Connecticut Conference meet director (2011, ‘13, ‘15, ‘16), the North Central Connecticut Conference meet director (2007) and the CREC Regional Athletic League meet director (2014).

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Mike Cohen  It is with great pleasure that the National High School Athletic Coaches Association announces the advancement of Michael Cohen from Simsbury High School, Simsbury, CT as a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association national coach of the year in the sport of Boys Cross Country. Coach Cohen is one of eight finalists from across the nation and will be honored during The National Coach of the Year Awards Banquet which will take place at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s national convention at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria, IL on the evening of June 21, 2017. The highlight of the banquet will be the naming of the NHSACA national coach of the year in nineteen recognized sports categories.

Coach Cohen was selected for this national honor by his state’s high school coaches’ association. He was then selected as the nominee from District I comprised of the New England states and New York. This selection was based on longevity, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years, and winning percentage. The nominees and finalists are evaluated by experts in the field of coaching using a sport-specific rubric to assign points in each category. The National High School Athletic Coaches Association is the oldest coaches association in the nation formed by coaches, for coaches, and has been recognizing national coaches of the year since 1978.

Coach Cohen has coached both boys and girls Cross Country, coed Cross Country Ski, coed Indoor Track and Field as well as Outdoor Track and Field at Simsbury High School. He has been coaching for over 30 years. Presently, he is the Head Coach of the Boys Cross Country, the Coed Indoor Track and Field team and the Boys Outdoor Track and Field team. His Cross Country teams have won 4 state championships and amassed a record of 1056 wins and 255 loses. Presently, he serves as the State Chair of the CT High School Coaches Association Boys Cross Country Committee and has just completed 24 years as the Chair of Boys Cross Country for the Central CT Conference. Coach Cohen taught biological sciences at Simsbury High School for 35 years before retiring from the classroom. Additionally, Coach Cohen serves as the Director of the Green Mountain Running Camp, a NIKE Sports Camp, located in Meriden, NH. This camp is designed for high school boys and girls to educate and help prepare them to participate in their school's cross country programs.

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Jeff Gee  It is with great pleasure that the National High School Athletic Coaches Association announces the advancement of Jeff Gee from Wilton High School, Wilton, CT as a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association national coach of the year in the sport of Girls Cross Country. Coach Gee is one of eight finalists from across the nation and will be honored during The National Coach of the Year Awards Banquet which will take place at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s national convention at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria, IL on the evening of June 21, 2017. The highlight of the banquet will be the naming of the NHSACA national coach of the year in nineteen recognized sports categories.

Coach Gee was selected for this national honor by his state’s high school coaches’ association. He was then selected as the nominee from District I comprised of the New England states and New York. This selection was based on longevity, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years, and winning percentage. The nominees and finalists are evaluated by experts in the field of coaching using a sport-specific rubric to assign points in each category. The National High School Athletic Coaches Association is the oldest coaches association in the nation formed by coaches, for coaches, and has been recognizing national coaches of the year since 1978.

Coach Gee is the second longest serving coach at Wilton High School after completing his 29th season as head coach of the girls’ cross-country team. While Coach Gee has coached the boys’ and girls’ teams since 1988, the girls’ teams has been the most successful.

The Wilton girls have placed top three at the FCIAC championships in 23 of the past 27 seasons, including eight FCIAC titles (1990-94, 2002, ‘08, and ’10) and seven FCIAC second-place finishes.

Since the 1989 season, Wilton teams under Coach Gee have earned a 372-48 record in dual meets, averaging close to 14 wins and less than 2 losses per season, including 9 undefeated seasons and 14 FCIAC East Division titles.

On the state level, the Wilton cross country girls have finished first or second at the class meet 19 times in 27 years with four Class MM titles (1991, ’93, ’94, ’02) and four Class L titles (2009, 2011-13).

There are also three State Open titles (1990, 1991 and 1992) and two State Open second-place finishes, and two second-place finishes at the New England Cross-Country championships.

Coach Gee has also served as the FCIAC Girls XC Chairman for the past 10 years, as FCIAC Indoor Chairman during the past 8 years and 4 years on the CIAC XC committee. Coach Gee was also the FCIAC Outdoor Track and Field meet director for 18 years from 1984 through 2001.

Coach Gee’s dedication to the sport and Wilton cross country was evidenced by his leadership to move the cross country course from the Rolling Hills Country Club to a self-designed course through Allen’s Meadow Park in Wilton. The teams enjoyed training and racing on one of the only true cross-country courses in the state. Coach Gee also started the first Wilton XC Invitational in 1989 with co-director Jim Gerweck that recently celebrated its 28th edition last September.

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Further information about the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) is available at their website (http://www.hscoaches.org/ ).