Column: The ones who got it done

As I was finishing my end of the All-County winter season, I scribbled down of all the Coach of the Season winners since we introduced it in my first year at the Daily News in 2003-04.

Some interesting names I came across. It’s like a Putnam County Who’s Who of coaching, some who continue to thrive after all these years and some who sadly are no longer with us, like Al Wisnoski, the Coach of the Fall recipient in 2007 for Crescent City football, who passed away in 2011, and Bobby Stevens, the coach of the 2005 Peniel Baptist Academy’s 18-0 baseball team, who passed away last August.

When we first introduced this award, we had a “male sports” coach of the season and a “female sports” coach of the season. Of the six winners of those awards in the 2003-04 prep season, amazingly, the only coach still with their team is the venerable Al Carter of Crescent City, who has gone on to win the winter season honor three more times as the boys basketball coach.

It got me thinking about trivia. So I’ve devised a little bit of a quiz. I’ve got six questions involving Daily News prep coach of season. Let’s see how good you are at this:

A) Name the two boys basketball coaches who have won the Coach of the Winter season two straight years. One is currently coaching his team, the other isn’t.

B) Who is the only coach to win a coach of the season in two different sports? (Hint: She’s earned this honor in the fall and winter seasons.)

C) Two of the four current Putnam athletic directors have won a coach of the season. Who are they?

D) Two people – one male, one female – won coach of the season at their alma maters, where they also earned county player of the year honors. Who are they?

E) Who is the only coach of the season honoree to guide their team to a state championship?

F) Who is the most recent first-year head coach with that team to win a coach of the season?

The answers will appear at the bottom of this column ... and I promise they won’t be upside down.

n One last quick note about the state track and field competition held May 6-7 in Bradenton, a memorable day for Putnam County, most notably state champions Eron Carter and Ka’Tia Seymour.

The FHSAA handed the reins of hosting to the IMG Academy, and everyone who worked within the event did a sensational job. With all four classifications in the sport competing for medals, it might have tended to get a bit sloppy. But truth be told, they kept that meet going without much trouble. That’s a high mark for the FHSAA.

But while they did a tremendous job on the track and field, they did an awful job when it came to the outside matters, the biggest one being traffic. It was a nightmare to get into the complex that Friday afternoon. I got to within a mile of the academy at 2:45. I didn’t park until 4:20.

It was THAT bad. Part of the problem fell solely on IMG itself. There was no police presence to move traffic along and on a busy Friday afternoon, it was very bad without direction from the people who get paid to do that stuff. The funny thing is that when most everybody left the complex before the final event Friday night, the 3,200-meter run, there were Manatee County officers there to direct traffic. From the hour and 35 minutes it took to get into the stadium, it took all of five minutes to get out!

Seriously. The FHSAA works out the kinks of the traffic and the IMG parking lot situation (people were walking nearly a mile from the lot to the stadium), this is not a bad little site for the meet.

n The answers to the quiz:

A) Crescent City’s Al Carter won the Coach of the Winter in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and former Palatka High coach Lamar Purifoy captured the same honors in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

B) Crescent City’s Holly Pickens has been named twice as Coach of the Fall in volleyball (2006 and ‘11) and once for Coach of the Winter in girls basketball (2006-07).

C) Peniel Baptist Academy’s Terry Goodwin was Coach of the Fall in volleyball in 2013 at Peniel and Palatka AD Bobby Humphries earned Coach of the Fall in football with Interlachen High in 2004.

D) Matt McCool was the county’s baseball player of the year for Palatka High in 1988, then earned Coach of the Spring for Palatka baseball in the 2008 and ‘10 seasons. And in 2015, Interlachen volleyball coach Tonya Hays, a two-time player of the year in softball at IHS in 2004 and ‘05, captured Coach of the Fall honors.

E) The only coach to earn the award for a state championship team is Gordon Roberts, Palatka’s state 2A boys weightlifting championship mentor, who won Coach of the Spring in the 2007 season.

F) The most recent first-year coach to win is Crescent City’s Al Smith, who took over as the football coach in the 2012 season and earned the Coach of the Fall for being district runnersup.

Mark Blumenthal is a writer for the Palatka Daily News. You can reach him at or on Twitter @diabolicalmarky.