Tribble, Azar Win NFHS National Coach of Year Honors


2022-23 National Coaches of the Year
Selected by NFHS Coaches Association

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 16, 2024) — Westminster cross country coach Joe Tribble, and girls basketball coach Jan Azar of Hebron Christian were among the 23 high school coaches from across the country to have been selected as 2022-23 National Coaches of the Year by the NFHS Coaches Association.

The NFHS, which has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982, honors coaches in the top 10 girls sports and top 10 boys sports (by participation numbers), and in two “other” sports – one for boys and one for girls – that are not included in the top 10 listings. The NFHS also recognizes a spirit coach as a separate award category. Winners of NFHS awards must be active coaches during the year for which they receive their award. This year’s awards recognize coaches for the 2022-23 school year.

Recipients of the 2022-23 national awards for boys sports besides Tribble are: Kim Nelson, baseball, Orem (Utah) Timpanogos High School; Steve Hall, basketball, Detroit (Michigan) Cass Technical High School; Mike Goebel, 11-player football, Evansville (Indiana) Mater Dei High School; Tim Cram, golf, Benton (Louisiana) High School; Rey Ramirez-Alvarez, soccer, Wichita (Kansas) Maize South High School; Paul Winkeler, swimming and diving, Kansas City (Missouri) Rockhurst High School; Darby Norman, tennis, Amarillo (Texas) Randall High School; Spencer Huls, track and field, Corvallis (Montana) High School; and Klel Carson, wrestling, La Grande (Oregon) High School.   

Besides Azar, the recipients of the 2022-23 national awards for girls sports are: Charles Covington, cross country, Saltillo (Mississippi) High School; Vicky Kowalski, golf, Farmington Hills (Michigan) Mercy High School; Patricia Alexander, lacrosse, Raleigh (North Carolina) Cardinal Gibbons High School; Angie Lensing, soccer, Evansville (Indiana) Reitz Memorial High School; Kelli Smith, softball, Chattanooga (Tennessee) The Baylor School; Milton “Butch” Briggs, swimming and diving, East Grand Rapids (Michigan) High School; Donna Roisom, tennis, Portland (Oregon) Grant High School; Shaun Hardt, track and field, Queen Creek (Arizona) High School; and Jessica Burke, volleyball, Lafayette (Louisiana) St. Thomas More Catholic High School.   

The recipient of the National Coach of the Year for spirit is Jennifer Marks of Raleigh (North Carolina) Cardinal Gibbons High School. Travis White, an 8-player football coach from Tipton (Oklahoma) High School, was chosen in the “Others” category for boys sports, and Gerald Harris II, girls wrestling coach at Tulsa (Oklahoma) Union High School, was chosen in the “Others” category for girls sports. 

The NFHS receives nominations from its member state associations, which often works with the state coaches’ association in its respective state. The state association then contacts the potential state award recipients to complete a coach profile form that requests information regarding the coach’s record, membership in and affiliation with coaching and other professional organizations, involvement with other school and community activities and programs, and coaching philosophy. To be approved as an award recipient and considered for sectional and national coach of the year consideration, this profile form must be completed by the coach or designee and then approved by the executive director (or designee) of the state athletic/activities association.

The next award level after state coach of the year is sectional coach of the year. The NFHS is divided into eight geographical sections. They are as follows: Section 1 – Northeast (CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT); Section 2 – Mideast (DE, DC, KY, MD, OH, PA, VA, WV); Section 3 – South (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN); Section 4 – Central (IL, IN, IA, MI, WI); Section 5 – Midwest (KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD); Section 6 – Southwest (AR, CO, NM, OK, TX); Section 7 – West (AZ, CA, HI, NV, UT); and Section 8 – Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY). 

The NFHS Coaches Association has an advisory committee composed of a chair and eight sectional representatives. The sectional committee representatives evaluate the state award recipients from the states in their respective sections and select the best candidates for the sectional award in each sport category. The NFHS Coaches Association Advisory Committee then considers the sectional candidates in each sport, ranks them according to a point system, and determines a national winner for each of the 20 sport categories, the spirit category and two “other” categories. A total of 874 coaches are being recognized this year with state, sectional and national awards.

In 40 years as the boys cross country coach at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Tribble has built a program unmatched in the state. Remarkably, his teams have never finished lower than third in a Georgia High School Association state championship across three classifications. Westminster has won 29 state championships under Tribble, including a winning streak of 10 from 1996 to 2005. In addition, nine of Tribble’s runners have claimed individual championships. He was named the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Class AAA Coach of the Year in 1987 and was twice named coach of the year for Section 3 by the NFHS Coaches Association in 1995 and 1996. He is also a member of The Westminster Schools Athletic Hall of Fame and the Track/Cross Country Coaches of Georgia Hall of Fame. Tribble’s love of coaching extends to the classroom where he has taught a summer course titled “Running Through History” combining sport and history lessons.

Azar measures her success as a girls basketball coach not by wins and losses, but by the success of her players after they leave her program. However, in 26 years as a head coach in Georgia at Wesleyan School and Hebron Christian Academy, Azar has compiled an impressive win-loss record, too. She has won 688 games to just 122 losses. That includes a perfect 32-0 season a year ago at Hebron, which culminated in a GHSA Class 3A state championship. It marked the 15th time between the two schools that Azar has led her team to a GHSA title. Her teams have also finished second six times. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has named Azar its state coach of the year 15 times, and she was the Bobby Cremins State of Georgia Girls Coach of the Year for all classifications in 2006 and 2010. Azar is also a 2012 inductee into the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame.

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