Bigfork’s Loeffler a finalist for national coach of year award

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Longtime Bigfork High School coach Susan Loeffler is one of eight finalists for the 2019 National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s National Coach of the Year Award for girls track.

The finalists will be honored at the National Coach of the Year Awards Banquet during the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s national convention at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck, North Dakota, on June 26. The winner will be announced that evening.

Coach of the Year Awards will be given on the 26th in 19 recognized sports categories.

Loeffler was nominated for the national honor by the Montana Coaches Association.

“I feel really honored,” Loeffler said.

“I feel it’s amazing when you start looking at it and there are only eight of us who have qualified for this.

“It’s an awesome award,” she continued.

“I couldn’t have done it without the people who have helped me and the athletes.”

Loeffler began her coaching career in 1974 at Bigfork after her graduation from Montana State University. She has been the head coach at Bigfork every year since then.

Bigfork, which has competed in Class A and B, has won 13 district championships, 11 divisional titles and three state championships. Her teams finished second at state three times and third twice.

Loeffler has coached 28 athletes to individual state titles and eight relay teams.

The 2015 Bigfork team scored 110 points at state. Only one other Class B state championship team has ever scored more.

Loeffler has been a MCA coach of the year nominee 13 times, winning the award on three occasions. She was inducted into the Montana Coaches Hall of Fame in 2014.

According to the NHSACA press release, finalists are recognized for their longevity in coaching, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years and winning percentage. Finalists are then evaluated by experts in the field of coaching using a sport-specific rubrics to assign points in each category to determine the winner.

The NHSACA is the oldest coaches association in the nation formed by coaches, for coaches, and has been recognizing national coaches of the year since 1978.

Loeffler was up for national coach of the year award for cross country in 2017.

She was a state track champion and record holder in the 220-yard dash in high school in Havre and later ran on a NCAA national championship 400 relay team for Flathead Valley Community College (1970-71).

“I guess this is the next step up that has happened,” Loeffler said of her latest athletic recognition.

“Each one is different, but they are all pretty cool.”

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