Smith, Harp share Coach of the Year award with Harrodsburg volleyball coach

June 13, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Is it harder to sustain a championship program or rebuild a struggling program into one that can be competitive?

While it might be easy to debate what the right answer should be, the Bill Vaught Memorial Area Coach of the Year selections show that each scenario requires its own special abilities.

That's why state championship football coaches Chuck Smith of Boyle County and Sam Harp of Danville are sharing the award with Harrodsburg volleyball coach Hallie Hammond.

This award, which is sponsored by The Kentucky Advocate and Coffman's Trophy Shop, is in memory of the long-time Advocate sports editor. Vaught, who died eight years ago, admired coaches who could sustain championship programs like Harp and Smith have done, but he also had a special admiration for a coach in a so-called minor sport who used just as much energy to have a successful program.


Hammond, a Pennsylvania native, has coached the Harrodsburg volleyball team for three years. This year her team not only won a district championship, but the Pioneers won a regional tournament game to reach the semifinals.

That feat probably was the equivalent of the fifth straight state football championship that Smith's team won or the seventh title, and third in four years, that Harp's team won.

"Hallie has done a wonderful job of building our program from scratch by getting the girls to become excited about the possibilities of the program," Harrodsburg athletics director Spencer Tatum said. "She has a great relationship with her team and her positive approach had led to successes little by little.

"For them to get to the regional semifinals was a tremendous accomplishment for the team and the school."

Harp and Smith are able to handle the pressure

He's right. But what Smith and Harp did was equally impressive. Both were expected to lead their teams to state titles - and they did. The Title Town pressure might overwhelm some coaches, or at least impact the way they coach. However, Harp and Smith handle that pressure with the same ease as they do playoff opponents.

Boyle had its fourth undefeated season in five years while dominating Class AAA. The Rebels are 73-2 over the last five years and certainly will be favored to win the championship again this year.

But Smith certainly can relate to what Hammond did this year. Remember, his second Boyle team was 2-8 back in 1993. It took him eight years to get a team to the state title game. Since then, he's made the Rebels into a dynasty.

Harp came to a more established program at Danville in 1988. However, he got his building lessons at Calloway County and Anderson County.

He is 193-32, an 86-percent winning mark, at Danville and is 62-12, an 84-percent mark, in the playoffs. Smith is 130-30 at Boyle, including a 24-5 mark in the playoffs.

The two football coaches shared the Area Coach of the Year honor in 2002 and while several other area coaches also had noteworthy years with milestone accomplishments, these two men again made Title Town shine to share the award again.

However, Hammond also earned her share of the award in voting by the selection committee for making the first step toward having a successful program.

"The best thing about Hallie is that she not only is a tremendous coach, but she is an even better person," Tatum said. "She has done everything that I could have ever asked from an athletic directors' standpoint. She is an excellent physical sciences teacher and a great asset to our school system."

Actually, all three coaches are great assets to their schools and programs, which is why it seems only right that they are sharing this year's coaching honor.

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