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North Track Coach Jessica Richards Named Texas Girls HS Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Coach Jessica Richards

McKinney, Texas – McKinney North High School Girls Track and Field and Cross-Country Coach Jessica Richards has been chosen as the 2017 Texas Girls High School Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

With back-to-back McKinney North 5A state girls track and field championships (2016, 2017) on Richards’ resume, the announcement likely came as no surprise to anyone involved with high school track in Texas. And, it was certainly no shock to McKinney ISD Athletic Director Shawn Pratt.

“Winning a team state championship in the state of Texas is extremely difficult. It’s highly competitive in every sport, and for that team to go out and win back-to-back state championships was a tremendous accomplishment. When you take the talent they have and combine it with a great coach like Jessica, those are the good things that happen,” said Pratt.

“She knows one speed, and it’s full go. You get the same thing out of her every day. She’s got a great work ethic and great relationships with the kids,” said Pratt.

2017–2018 will mark Richards’ 12th year of coaching and her sixth year with the McKinney North track and field and cross country programs.

The USTFCCCA is a non-profit professional organization representing over 9,000 cross country and track and field coaches across several competitive organizations: NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA and state high school coaches associations. Each year they choose the top high school boys and girls track and field coach from each state.

Richards is the first to deflect any praise or acclaim back to the athletes and coaching staff that she works with, to confide that she has become a better coach because the people around her complement each other’s strengths so well.

“It’s very humbling,” Richards said of the recognition. “I don’t really view any of the awards as my award. I view it as our award, for the program.”

The success of that program has been built on high expectations, open communication and transparency. And, Richards leads by example. “It’s laying the expectations…and getting everybody on the same page—including your assistants and your parents—that we are in this together. And, it’s being really honest with the kids, too. [I tell them,] ‘These are some things that went really well. These are some things that I didn’t do well, that I’m going to do better.’

“If you don’t do something well, you own up to it. And, vice versa. If [our athletes] don’t do something well, and you call them out on it, it opens up a two-way street,” she said.

Richards’ passion for the sport and for her athletes to fully realize their potential is quite relentless. “My coaching style, I would say, is intense—but it’s a fun intense,” she said with a smile. “My high school coach was that way, and my college coach was that way. It’s just kind of how I’m wired. So, it goes back to finding people [to coach with] that are not that way and balancing that out.

“I really do love what I do, and I love cross country and track. Every day of my life, there’s something going on in cross country and track in the U.S. and around the world. So, I really enjoy it, and I feel that the kids really feed off of the fact that I enjoy it as much as I do,” Richards said.

If Richards’ intensity and passion for the sport are part of the fuel that feeds the track program at McKinney North, one can be sure that they are not going to be slowing down any time soon.

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Coach Jessica Richards

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