Teacher Diane Montgomery named 2018 Regional Coach of the Year

By Sofia Ketels and Brooklyn McWhorter

Well into her first year as an English teacher in Georgia, track and cross country coach Diane Montgomery has helped to rebuild the two teams, kicking off her career as a both a teacher and coach. After her first year teaching in 2002, she immediately began coaching, and became the boys and girls head coach in 2009 and 2017. At the end of this cross country season, Montgomery has been named 2018 Regional Coach of the Year by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

“It was pretty special,” Montgomery said. “I was excited. It’s nice to feel validated for your hard work.”

While Montgomery may have been surprised with the honor, junior Michael Kehrig said that her dedication, involvement and passion for both the track and cross country teams made the choice obvious. Through his three years on the boys cross country team, Kehrig said he has noticed how much Montgomery looks out for every student on each team.

“(I think she was named coach of the year because of) her commitment to the team and how much passion and energy she brings to the table,” Kehrig said. “That’s seen in the success that the runners have had.”

Throughout her years of coaching, Montgomery said she strives to focus on motivating cross country runners to run all year, and to get as much mileage as they can. Over time, Montgomery said she has noticed more runners dedicating themselves to this attitude towards training while inspiring other student runners to do so along the way.

“We’ve just had more and more kids buy into that philosophy of dedicating yourself year round. We’ve also tweaked our training programs over the years,” Montgomery said. “I feel like this year was finally the best combination of training for the athletes that we had.”

To Montgomery, individualized attention to the runners is what made this year stand out as a great training season. With the varsity team’s small size added to the number of athletes who had been running for three to four years, Montgomery found it easier to provide the attention to each runner and to get the feedback she believed they needed to succeed.

For example, Montgomery said that while two runners may have very similar times, one may be more adept to distance running, while the other may be better suited to running for speed, like in track. This makes it easier to evaluate how individuals are performing in their events.

“(It’s about) really knowing the runners as individuals and trying to meet their needs, because you can’t treat them all the same,” Montgomery said. “We kind of tried to doctor it so we’re not overtraining some of the kids, but also that we’re helping them to reach their full potential, so we’re not undertraining.”

This year was senior Michaela Cosgrove’s last season with the cross country team. She agrees with Montgomery, and said she believes that during her time on the team, Montgomery played a key role in their success.

Like Kehrig, Cosgrove said that Montgomery’s overall dedication to the team shows through both the team’s practices and their meets. Whether it be planning workouts, getting split times, or just being supportive, Cosgrove said Montgomery is consistent in her devotion to both teams.

“She’s an awesome coach,” Cosgrove said. “She always has the team’s best interests in mind and she knows our goals. You can always go to her and ask her for advice, and she definitely knows what she’s talking about.”

To Montgomery however, the honor is a reflection of the work that she and all of the track and cross country teams have done to have a successful year, especially since a large part of winning is based on overall performance throughout the season.

It’s nice to feel like the programs that I’ve been working on are finally reaching their pinnacle of success,” Montgomery said. “For me, it’s like a secondary reflection on me because I’ve built the program.”

As for next year, Montgomery said she has high hopes for the next varsity lineup. Five seniors will have graduated by the start of next season, and Montgomery is eager to see where this leaves the rest of the team. With the new influx of runners who have never been on varsity before, she is expecting things within scheduling and overall training to be adjusted and she is enthusiastic to see how next season’s teams end up.

“Next year I think (it) will be interesting to see who rises to the challenge, and is ready to fill in those spots,” Montgomery said. “That’s going to be exciting.”