Vermillion track coach awarded top honor

Vermillion track coach awarded top honor
After 31 years of combined coaching experience, the hard work has finally paid off for Vermilllion's Jim McGuire, who was recently named the South Dakota High School Coaches Association Girls' Track Coach of the Year.

McGuire, a native of Wagner, began his love for athletics at an early age. He played almost every sport imaginable while competing for the Red Raiders, and continued his athletic career at The University of South Dakota at Springfield. McGuire played both football and baseball while in college, and carried his knowledge for those sports back home to Wagner for the summer.

"My first experience coaching was with the pee wee and legion baseball teams in Wagner while I was going through college," said McGuire. "That's where I got my first taste for coaching."

After college McGuire immediately took a coaching job in Crawford, NE, where he spent time as the head football coach and also the women's basketball coach. After a few years he started doing track and found that he really enjoyed coaching the sport.

McGuire eventually took the head track and field coaching job in Vermillion, and after 22 years there he's never looked back.

According to McGuire there's something special about coaching track and watching the kids get better each meet.

"It's really special to coach kids who really want to work and try hard. Watching their effort and watching them improve is the best part of it all," said McGuire.

While McGuire coaches both the boys and girls tracksters at Vermillion, he has seen a special bond grow with the Lady Tanagers, this years' team in particular.

"There is definitely a special bond with this group of girls because they're all great kids and great students too," said McGuire. "They're very fun to be around and they love to give me a hard time," he said.

It appears while the bond between coach and athletes was growing, so was the talent level, with the Tanagers improving at each meet. McGuire knew he had a special group of girls before the season started, but he tried to approach the track season just as he would any other year.

"We tried to look at every meet exactly the same with the emphasis put on each athlete getting better," said McGuire. "We figured that if the girls improved each meet, the whole team was bound to improve along with them."

Vermillion proved to be a force throughout the season, recording top times in the 400 relay, 800 relay and the medley relay as well. Individual performers were also starting to make a name for themselves throughout the state. Alicia Brown was one of the top sprinters in the state recording top times in the 200 and 400. Nicole Orr also got the reputation as one of the top hurdlers in the state.

Heading into the state track meet McGuire thought his girls had a great chance.

"We were hoping to finish first or second at the meet, but we didn't know St. Thomas More was quite as good as they were," said McGuire.

St. Thomas More pulled ahead of Vermillion on the final day of the meet, and Vermillion finished in second place. Although they were disappointed they didn't win state, McGuire was extremely pleased with the way his team performed.

"We felt we performed about as well as we could, and we did the best in every event we were in," he said. "We had outstanding athletes and all the girls worked so very hard to make it a very special year," said McGuire.

As for McGuire, the future looks very bright. He's got a number of the same girls from this year's squad coming back next season. Brown, the two-time champ in the 200 and 400, will be coming back for her junior season along with a number of other talented ladies.

McGuire expects to see good things from all of them and hopes they will be just as competitive next year.

When asked if he considered giving up coaching anytime in the near future his answer was simple and to the point.

"I don't see this ending for quite some time. It's in my blood."

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