Six coaches have been selected into ITCCCA’s Coaches Hall-of-Fame Class of 2021. The coaches were voted into the Hall-of-Fame at the recent Committee meeting. When they will be inducted is a big question now, thanks to Covid-19 and all the rules currently in place. But ITCCCA thought it was very important to recognize these individuals at this time. The selection meeting usually takes place in October each year, but to allow for social distancing the meeting needed to be held outside before it was too cold. This year there were 40 coaches nominated. The committee consists of 16 Hall-of-Fame coaches through Illinois. Each region of the State is represented. Each of the candidates was discussed at length with concern focusing on the three C’s – coaching record, contribution to the sports outside of coaching, and character. The committee was faced with a tough task of selecting these inductees. Each of the members placed a secret ballot where they were allowed to vote for up to seven coaches. The votes were cast and counted.
The following coaches, who have won over 40 IHSA State trophies and coached over 60 individual Illinois State Champions, have been selected for this year:
Janet Erb (Winnebago High School) Janet has coached at Winnebago High School for 20 years. She returned to the school where she was #1 runner on two State Championship teams. Janet has served as co-head coach, with her husband Joe, of both boys and girls cross country and head coach of girls track & field. She has, also, been head middle school track & field coached . Janet has coached cross country teams to 8 IHSA State Championships, including 5 consecutive Girls titles from 2005-2009. In 2019, she had the pleasure of coaching her daughters to All-State honors and a team State Championship. In all, she has coached teams to 16 IHSA State trophies and over 40 individual medals. At the middle school level, she developed a two-time State Champ in the high jump and produced 34 IESA State track & field medalists. “Janet is a very intelligent, hard-working, successful coach.” “She is highly respected by her peers, not just for her coaching ability and success, but, also, because of the way she treats everyone as a close friend.”
Joe Erb (Winnebago High School) Joe has coached at Winnebago High School for 22 years. He returned to the school where he first ran to assist Hall-of-Fame coach, Roger Fredrickson. In 2004 Joe became co-head coach, with his wife, Janet, of both boys and girls cross country and head coach of boys track & field. Joe has coached cross country teams to 8 IHSA State Championships, including 5 consecutive Girls titles from 2005-2009. In 2019, he had the pleasure of coaching his daughters to All-State honors and a team State Championship. In all, Joe has coached teams to 21 IHSA State trophies and over70 individual medals. His boys track & field teams have earned 3 IHSA State trophies. He, and wife, coached both Jeremy Stevens and Sean Smith to individual State Cross Country Championships and 3200 m. State Championships. Joe “is an exceptional coach with a resume few can match, yet he is very approachable. All who listen to him speak passionately about family, athletes, and profession become better versions of themselves.”
Rob Harvey (Wheaton-Warrenville South High School) Rob began coaching at WWS in 1999. Prior to that he coached some at Sycamore and St. Charles. Having anchored a IHSA State Champion 3200 m. relay for Moline and running on 2 D3 NCAA Champion teams at North Central, he learned from two Hall-of-Fame coaches. He has developed a very successful program at WWS. His girls teams have won 3 IHSA State Cross Country trophies and set a Illinois State Meet record of 8:59.03 in the 3200 m. relay. In all his athletes have earned 34 State medals. Rob’s 2010 CC team qualified for the Nike National Meet and finished 18th in the nation. Rob has done much to promote TF and CC in Illinois. He develop the original webpage for ITCCCA and organized it for years. He has served on the IHSA Advisory Board for Track & Field and was a major driving force behind the addition of a 5th Sectional in CC. He hosts a major track invite, runs a prominent timing company, and has been instrumental in founding Distance Night in Palatine. “The most important attribute a coach can have is heart, and Rob has it in spades.”
Sandra Jenkins (Chicago Calumet & Vocational High Schools) Sandra has a coaching career that spans 37 years in Chicago, at Graves Elementary, Calumet and Vocational High Schools, and Chicago State. She coached athletes to a remarkable 27IHSA State Championship medals, including 21 first place relays. She has coached athletes to 54 individual State medals. In 1976, her girls Calumet TF team won the IHSA State Championship, after placing runner-up the previous year. At Vocational, Sandra coached Chris Ellis and Aaron Rodgers to back-to-back State titles in the 800 m. She has twice been awarded Illinois Coach of the Year honors. She has, also, had an outstanding career as an IHSA official and working the State Meet for over 40 years. She has always taken the time to provide others with invaluable guidance, knowledge, and advice. “Sandra has shown an unbridled love for the sport of track & field, a passion to help young people and a willingness to give back.”
Don Samford (Eureka High School) Don coached Track & Field and/or Cross Country for 33 years, primarily at Eureka with the girls programs. He served as head track & field coach from 1982-88 and 1995-2012, and as head cross country coach from 1987-98. He retired in 2012. During his tenure, his teams won 5 IHSA State trophies, including a State Championship in 2002. His teams earned two runner-up trophies and two 3rds. Don coached athletes to Individual State Championships on 18 occasions, including 8 relays. His teams won 15 Sectional titles. Athletes he coached earned All-State medals 79 times, with 75 in TF and 4 in CC. A speaker at numerous clinics, he,. also, helped start the Eureka Invitational in 1983. This meet later became co-ed and featured up to 20 schools. “Don had such a passion for creating excitement around the sport and success as individuals and a team.” “The knowledge Coach Samford had as a coach and his ability to relay that to his athletes was undeniable.”
Mike Schmidt (Burlington Central High School) Mike began coaching track & field in 1991. He became head Boys Track & Field Coach at Burlington Central in 1996. Mike coached his teams to runner-up trophies in the 2001 and 2015 IHSA State Meets. In 2014, the team placed 3rd. Athletes of Mike have won individual State Championships on seven occasions., including 3 relays. His athletes have earned All-State medals 66 times. Coach Schmidt’s teams have won seven Sectional titles and 16 outdoor conference titles. In 2015, he was named ITCCCA North 2A Track & Field Coach-of-the-Year. Having been a speaker at the ITCCCA Clinic, Mike, also, served on the IHSA Advisory for Track & Field. He has been a leader in fund-raising for the community. “He is stern but fair, caring and compassionate” as a coach .He has “changed his coaching style based on each athlete and changes the way he coaches based on each athlete’s needs.”