Coach John Smith: A Proven Winner
For nearly a decade, the Willamette University women’s track and field squad was unquestionably the class of the Northwest Conference. Nine straight NWC crowns during the 2000s is proof of that.
But all that changed in 2011 and 2012. In back-to-back springs, the George Fox women didn’t simply edge out the Bearcats to claim league supremacy. They dominated them to the tune of 75- and 34-point victories. Coach John Smith is a big reason why.
Smith’s leadership in guiding the Bruins to consecutive league titles earned the respect of the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, who, in 2012, selected him the NCAA Division III West Region Women’s Coach of the Year – the third time he’s claimed the honor in four years.
Not surprisingly, Smith also was named the Northwest Conference Women’s Coach of the Year for a third straight season. As a team at the 2012 track and field championships, the Bruins won 25 all-NWC honors and had eight athletes finish first. Individually, Alyssa Turner was named the NWC Track Athlete of the Year, and Alexis Arnold was named the NWC Field Co-Athlete of the Year.
Smith’s success as a coach shouldn’t come as a surprise. As an athlete at George Fox in the 1990s, he was a national qualifier in the decathlon three times and twice in the pole vault, claiming NAIA All-American status in the decathlon in both 1994 and 1995. At the time of graduation, he held top-10 marks in eight events at George Fox, including a school record which still stands in the decathlon his junior year (7,138 points).