Coach of the Year Award
Nominations for Coach of the Year are open year-round at this form. A final list of nominees for each year is compiled in January.
The Coach of the Year award program was established in 2018 to recognize the ongoing success of Illinois coaches. The award has its roots in a gift from the estate of David Riley, a coach whose own efforts to grow his team and to advise and steward coaches across the state and country were limitless. The IHSSBCA has elected to honor three coaches with our annual Coach of the Year awards, and to name these awards for three coaches who best exemplify these qualities. The Coaches of the Year are honored each year at the IHSSBCA Awards Banquet. Download the Coach of the Year policies page for award guidelines.
Karen Niemeier Award (Class A): One coach from a Class A school will be honored with the Karen Niemeier Coach of the Year Award. In her nearly three decades of coaching at Winnebago, Coach Niemeier built a premier program, hosting several tournaments annually and setting the standard for quizbowl in Northern Illinois.
Tom Durbin Award (Class AA): One coach from a Class AA school will be honored with the Tom Durbin Coach of the Year Award. Tom was the founder of Scholastic Bowl at Decatur MacArthur during the 1980s and the program became one of the most successful teams and helpful programs in Central Illinois in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Beth Young Award (At-Large): One coach from any school will be honored with the Beth Young Coach of the Year Award. Coach Young’s tenure at Quincy High School included over two decades of stellar performances and tireless mentoring of new coaches across the state.
These three Hall of Fame coaches combined for 28 appearances, 14 trophies, and 5 state championships at IHSA State, but their legacies go far beyond their records. So much of what we enjoy in Illinois Scholastic Bowl today is, either directly or indirectly, the work of these three coaches. They built alumni lists, moderator networks, and coaching trees that continue to grow and sustain the game today.
The IHSSBCA Coach of the Year awards honor their legacies by recognizing excellence in coaching in all its many forms. In-game success is important, but building a program, taking teams to many tournaments, hosting tournaments, being involved in both the broad quizbowl community and their local community, and upholding the high standards of sportsmanship and camaraderie that make Scholastic Bowl special are the things that make a coach truly excellent, and these are the primary qualities that the award committee considers in selecting the Coaches of the Year.
While the award is given annually, the award committee considers work done in previous years, especially as it relates to the long-term efforts of building a program and working in the community.
Coaches who win a Coach of the Year award are ineligible to win an award again for a period of at least five years.
2021 Coaches of the Year
In recognition of the uneven opportunities afforded to coaches and teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Coaches of the Year were not awarded in 2021.
2020 Coaches of the Year
Karen Niemeier Class A Award Winner: Kristin Burns, Keith Country Day School
Tom Durbin Class AA Award Winner: Matthew Jordan, Lincoln-Way East High School
Beth Young At-Large Award Winner: Josh Bartels, Lincoln High School
2019 Coaches of the Year
Karen Niemeier Class A Award Winner: Brant Trimpe, Williamsville
Tom Durbin Class AA Award Winner: Mike Sorice, Centennial (Champaign)
Beth Young At-Large Award Winner: Erin Limestall, New Berlin
2018 Coaches of the Year
Matt Hasquin, Southwestern High School (Piasa)
Karen Niemeier Class A Award Winner
Matt Hasquin’s teams at Southwestern have proven that Class A teams can build the depth that the top Class AA teams have, and that it’s not always about finding the talented “wonderkid;” it’s about building team balance and sharing the work it takes to become a top-tier team. Under Matt Hasquin’s leadership, Southwestern has become a perennial challenger at state tournaments and at NAQT’s Small School National Championship Tournament. Outside of his work for his own team, Haquin hosts frequent tournaments, is active in the IHSSBCA, freely advises other coaches, and works to build his local circuit.
Mike Woolley, Carl Sandburg High School (Orland Park)
Tom Durbin Class AA Award Winner
Mike Woolley became the head coach of Carl Sandburg High SChool in 2013-14, and immediately developed a drive to discover how his team could be better. In pursuit of this goal, he established an executive board of players who have helped create a mentorship program that extends to Sandburg’s grade school feeders, and who participate in the team’s decisions about attending more tournaments and working together to improve as players.
Mike Laudermith, Fenton High School
Beth Young At-Large Award Winner
Mike Laudermith built the Fenton program from scratch into one of the most respected teams in the state. Fenton has made the top half of the PACE NSC field and the playoffs at HSNCT, and has produced multiple IHSSBCA All-State players. One of the hallmarks of a good coach is having players who, regardless of in-game skill, understand what’s going on at a tournament, what they want to accomplish at that tournament, and what they need to do to make that happen. Mike’s teams are always well prepared in this regard. He has been a frequent mentor to other coaches, both personally and as a presenter at SchoBowlFest, national seminars, and podcasts for players and coaches.