E.A. Sports Today

Another high honor

PV cross country coach Hood recognized as state girls Coach of the Year by NFHS; 3 area runners named to July all-star race

UPDATE: Ohatchee officials said Thursday the state granted them hosting right to cross-country sectionals; details pending. Alexandria’s Nunnelly added to all-star race.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – There hasn’t been any congratulatory letters from Division I head coaches like last year yet, but that doesn’t lessen the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with being recognized by your peers.

For the second year in a row Pleasant Valley cross country coach Brad Hood has been recognized as the state’s top coach in his sport by a national organization.

Earlier this month, Hood was named the Alabama girls cross country Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations. He was nominated for the honor directly by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

He also was just confirmed as the head coach of the North squad for the Alabama All-Sports Week race in July (more on that below).

Last January, Hood was named state coach of the year by the national track and cross country coaches association.

“That’s pretty cool that that Montgomery’s noticed our small program,” Hood said Wednesday as he was returning from state cross country committee meeting. “You’d think (the larger schools) would be always in the running, but (to recognize) a little 3A school in Calhoun County, that’s pretty big. I think it’s more an award (about) our community and our program than me. I see it as our program.”

Over the last three years, the Lady Raiders have won back-to-back state championships and finished second this past fall. Hood’s boys teams also have taken their game to a higher level under his watch.

“We have brought home five state maps in three years,” Hood said, referring to the trophies awarded to the state champions and runner-ups. “That’s all work the kids have done, nothing I’ve done. I’ve got a good coaching staff. We’ve got four adults invested in these kids; it’s not just me. We’ve got a crazy coaching staff for a 3A cross country team.”

Last year’s coaching award brought him a personal letter of congratulations from the Wake Forest head coach in the mail. Speaking of the mail, the NFHS letter recognizing the award stayed in Hood’s mailbox a while because the holiday schedule and weather prevented him from getting to the mailbox until just recently.

“We are proud of the work Coach Hood has put in with our cross country team,” Pleasant Valley principal Mark Proper said. “He has been a great example to our student athletes. We are very proud of him and the team’s accomplishments over the last few years. This is a well deserved award that speaks volumes about him and our team members.”

As mentioned above, Hood has been named the coach of the North team of the second annual high school all-star race. The North teams include four area runners – Ohatchee’s Blake Noah and Southside’s Taylor Nails in the boys race and PV’s Juliana Bellew in the girls race.

Meanwhile, the coaches committee has recommended expanding the state championship meet to 16 teams in each classification (four per section) and one of the Class 1A-2A and Class 3A sectionals be staged at Choccolocco Park. Both proposals have traction.

“The coaches have said it’s time to expand,” Hood said. “There wasn’t enough to fill 16 team before, but now there are good teams being left home.”

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