Coaching Legend John Coughlin Inducted into Valley Hall of Fame
Oct. 23, 2008
ST. LOUIS - In honor of his coaching achievements at Illinois State, former head track and field and cross country coach John Coughlin is one of six members of 2009 induction class for the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame, as announced by the league office Thursday. The Valley will conduct its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Louis Friday, March 6, 2009, during the State Farm MVC Men's Basketball Tournament in the Scottrade Center.
Coughlin is honored and humbled to be part of the MVC prestigious induction class, but considers himself to be just an old coach that is bless to have the opportunity to be part of a sport he loves and to be supported by a great institution like Illinois State.
"This is not just an honor for me, but it is also a testament to the track and field program we had," said Coughlin. "Illinois State is an outstanding institution. The terrific people at ISU is what has allowed the program to move forward and achieve its success. I am honored to be in the company of people such as John Griffith, who started the Drake Relays and John Wooden, a coach that all coaches strive to emulate."
Joining Coughlin in the 12th MVC Hall of Fame class are, basketball standout Junior Bridgeman of Louisville, late head basketball coach Eddie Hickey of Creighton and Saint Louis, women's hoops star Lorrie Bauan of Drake, basketball icon John Wooden of Indiana State and late coach and athletics director John L. Griffith of Drake.
Coughlin, who will be inducted into the Coaches Wing, joins the ranks of many great former Illinois State legends who have already been inducted into the Valley's Hall of Fame. That list includes: Lifetime Achievement honoree Jill Hutchison (inducted in 2008), Lifetime Achievement honoree Will Robinson (inducted in 2003), Institutional Great honoree Cathy Boswell (inducted in 2003) and Institutional Great Doug Collins (1998).
A native of Elmhurst, Ill., Coughlan is the most decorated track and field/cross country head coach in Redbird history, having guided the ISU men's program for 23 seasons and the women's squad for eight campaigns.
"When you first get into coaching earning these types of honors don't cross your mind," said Coughlin. "You coach because you love to coach and you love the sport and you want to see what you can do and how you can make a difference in the lives of your athletes."
Retiring from Illinois State following the 2000 MVC Outdoor Championship, he led the Redbirds to 25 league championships and mentored 291 MVC individual champions.
"I remember when I first started coaching," said Coughlin. "I went and talked to five or six of the great coaches at the time and spent time learning from them. Now, 40 years later, I have young coaches coming to me and asking me the same questions. It really brings you full circle.
The 24-time Valley Coach of the Year, he took district coach-of-the-year honors nine times and the 1995 national coach of the year laurel.
On the national level, he shepherded 195 student-athletes to the NCAA Championships in 18 different track events, producing 37 All-Americans. Illinois State placed in the NCAA Championship top-25 on five occasions.
"We are extremely happy for John," said Illinois State director of athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger. "When you win 25 Missouri Valley Conference championships and you are named the conference coach of the year 24 times, this day was just a matter of time for John. Being a member of the Valley Hall of Fame is a deserving honor, and we are proud of him and his accomplishments."
Coughlan served a four-year term as a member of the Executive Committee of the NCAA Division I Track Coaches Association.
He is a member of the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame (1993), the Drake Relays Hall of Fame (1997) and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2006).