In her second season at the helm of the UCF track and field program, head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert has been named the 2009 South Region Coach of the Year, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced Monday. Smith Gilbert won the honor based on a vote of the region’s head coaches.
“It is both exciting and humbling to be recognized by my peers as the South Region Coach of the Year, especially in a region with so many outstanding coaches and teams,” said Gilbert. “Awards such as this one are significant because as coaches we must always remember that coaching is not about us. Coaching is really about positively transforming the lives of our student-athletes and being great examples for those around us.”
The South Region includes five of the current top-25 women’s track and field programs. Among other teams, the region includes No. 4 Florida State, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 14 Florida, No. 17 Auburn, No. 19 Miami (Fla.), Alabama and USF.
In 2009, Smith Gilbert guided the Knights to the program’s highest finish in both the C-USA Outdoor Championships (second) and the NCAA East Regionals (ninth). In addition, Smith Gilbert will bring five student-athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships this week in Arkansas. Prior to this season, only one athlete had qualified for nationals in the program’s history.
UCF broke 13 school records during the outdoor season. In the indoor season, three Knights – senior Dione Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.), junior Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) and freshman Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.) – garnered All-American status at the NCAA Indoor Championships.