NEW ORLEANS - East Carolina Head Track and Field Coach Curt Kraft was named Southeast Region Women's Coach of the Year for the first time in his career by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) it was announced Monday.
Each of the regions honored both genders' top track athletes and field athletes as well as the top men's and women's head coaches and assistant coaches. Award winners were determined by a vote of the USTFCCCA member coaches.
"This award is a true reflection of our entire coaching staff and program," Kraft said. "I have said many times throughout my coaching career that "Coach of the Year" awards should really say "Coaches of the Year." If it weren't for the great assistants and great teams, none of this would be possible."
Kraft earned the honors after the East Carolina women's squad captured the 2014 Indoor and Outdoor Conference USA Championships. He went on to be named C-USA Women's Coach of the Year. The Pirates shattered 10 school records under Kraft's tutelage during the outdoor season and his squad sent 20 qualifiers to the NCAA East Regionals and will send a program-best 10 student-athletes to the NCAA National Championships in Eugene, Ore., this week.
This season, Kraft coached redshirt senior jumper Tynita Butts, a five-time All-America selection, as she was named the 2014 Penn Relays Field Athlete of the Meet and recorded a school-record setting mark of 1.91-meters (6'3.25") in the high jump to rank second in the nation. Additionally, Kraft helped guide junior thrower Kayla Padgett to a stellar season in which she was named Conference USA Women's Field Performer of the Meet after garnering three All-Conference nods and was named the Women's High Point Performer of the Meet following the conference championships. Padgett owns three outdoor school records (shot put, discus and hammer) and one indoor school record (weight throw).
"I am very honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award for the Southeast Region," Kraft said. "This means so much to me and the program. It gives you some idea of what your peers think of the job that we are doing here at East Carolina University.
"I am very thankful and honored to represent East Carolina as the head coach in receiving this award. I take pride in representing not only East Carolina University, but also Greenville, Pitt County, and the whole state of North Carolina."
Kraft is in his ninth year at East Carolina and has brought the Pirates three conference titles and 11 All-America selections. Under his guidance, the Pirates have set a total of 64 school records on both the men's and women's side during the indoor and outdoor seasons.
East Carolina will be back in action at the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships beginning Wednesday, June 11 and concluding Saturday, June 14.