Award of Merit

About Award of Merit

This award will be presented annually to recognize one individual who has exemplified passion and leadership locally, statewide and/or nationally for the promotion of coach education. Instructors of coach education, administrators and coaches who have worked to mandate coach training in their state should be considered for this national recognition.

Award of Merit

  • Dr. Michael Koester (Oregon)

    Award of Merit 2013
    Coach Educator

    Michael Koester, M.D., ATC, one of the nation’s leading experts in the area of concussions in sports, is the 2013 recipient of the Award of Merit from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

    Koester, a physician on staff at the Slocum Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Eugene, Oregon, where he also directs the Slocum Sports Concussion Program, received the prestigious award June 25 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

                A nonsurgical sports medicine specialist, Koester specializes in the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. He is trained in both pediatric and adult sports medicine, but has a special interest in the evaluation and care of injuries in young children and adolescents.

                Koester earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 1992, and his doctorate from the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno in 1996. He did his pediatric residency at the University of Washington School of Medicine and his primary care sports medicine fellowship at Vanderbilt University.

                A native of Stanfield, Oregon, Koester has devoted many hours to the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) and the NFHS – particularly in the area of concussions in sports.

                Koester recently completed five years on the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), including three years as chair. During that time, he led the committee’s work with regard to concussions and was the spokesperson for the NFHS at meetings across the country.

                Among his accomplishments, Koester played a large role in the revised fourth edition of the NFHS Sports Medicine Handbook. He also led the SMAC in adopting a Position Statement on Concussions that was placed in all NFHS rules books beginning with the 2010-11 school year.

                In addition, through his direction of the SMAC, the NFHS adopted new rules language regarding the procedures to follow when an athlete is suspected of having a concussion. The guidelines for the management of a student exhibiting signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion were placed in all NFHS rules books beginning with the 2010-11 school year.

    Koester also played a key role in the development of the NFHS Coach Education Program online course, “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know.” He is the host of this online course, which has been taken by about 900,000 individuals since its launch on in 2010.

    Koester also authored three articles for High School Today, the NFHS’ national magazine that is distributed to the superintendent, principal, athletic director and school board president at every high school in the United States. His articles were on the topics of H1N1 virus, pre-participation exams and the academic effects of concussions.

    Koester also has served as chair of the OSAA Medical Aspects of Sports Committee, as well as team physician for several high schools in the Eugene area.

  • Fred Mueller (North Carolina)

    Award of Merit 2012
    Coach Educator

    Fred Mueller, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research (NCCSIR) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has been chosen as the recipient of the 2012 Award of Merit from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

    Mueller, a coach and professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) since 1966, received the prestigious award July 9 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

    As director of the NCCSIR since 1982, Mueller has become the country’s leading authority on catastrophic injury research. Mueller has worked closely with the NFHS, NCAA and other national sports organizations in studying injuries and helping to minimize risk for student-athletes.

    Mueller collects data from the various sports organizations throughout the year and produces the annual Catastrophic Injury Report, which is used in an effort to prevent serious injuries at the high school level.

    “Dr. Mueller’s work on behalf of student-athletes in collecting and studying data on catastrophic injuries has proved valuable to the NFHS and the millions of athletes who have participated in high school sports,” said NFHS Executive Director Bob Gardner. “We are pleased to be able to recognize Dr. Mueller’s invaluable service through the presentation of our Award of Merit.”

    Mueller began his association with the University of North Carolina 56 years ago when he enrolled as a student. After graduating in 1961 and then serving two years as a high school coach in Florida and two years as a professor at Montclair State College in New Jersey, Mueller returned to the Chapel Hill campus for good in 1966.

    Mueller has served as freshman football coach (1966-67), physical education instructor (1968-70), head lacrosse coach (1968-71), assistant professor (1970-74), associate professor (1974-80) and professor (1980-present). From 1995 to 2005, Mueller was chairman of the Department of Physical Education, Exercise and Sport Science at UNC.

    Mueller has been a member (and chair the past two years) of the Medical and Safety Advisory Committee for USA Baseball since 1989. He also has served on the Medical and Safety Committees for US Lacrosse and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Mueller has been chairman of the American Football Coaches Association Committee on Football Injuries since 1980 and research director for the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment since 2006.

    The NFHS has previously honored Mueller on two other occasions – in 1984 with the NFHS Service Award and in 2002 with the NFHS Citation. Other awards include the Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award from the U.S. Sports Academy in 1997, the Citation Award from the American College of Sports Medicine in 2003 and the Chairman’s Special Citation for service to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1978. Mueller is also a two-time recipient (1980, 1982) of the Cramer Award for Service to Athletic Training presented by Cramer Products, Inc. Later this year, he will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UNC.

    Mueller has received many research grants to study injuries, including grants from the American Football Coaches Association, NCAA, USA Baseball, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and Major League Baseball.

    In addition to receiving his bachelor’s degree from UNC in 1961, Mueller also earned his master’s in physical education (1964) and his doctorate in education (1970) from North Carolina.

  • Myles Brand (NCAA)

    Award of Merit 2010
    Coach Educator

    Former NCAA President Dr. Myles Brand, who passed away in 2009, has been chosen as the 2010 recipient of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Award of Merit.

    Brand, who championed academic reform during his seven years as president of the NCAA, passed away September 16, 2009, after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer. His wife, Dr. Peg Brand, accepted the Award of Merit on his behalf July 9 during the luncheon at the 91st annual NFHS Summer Meeting in San Diego, California.

    After serving as president of the University of Oregon for five years and Indiana University for eight years, Brand began his seven-year tenure as NCAA president in January 2003. In doing so, he changed the landscape of intercollegiate athletics. He was not intimidated by long-standing institutions, nor was he afraid to challenge the status quo in his relentless pursuit to foster different attitudes about the role of intercollegiate athletics within higher education.

    Brand was the first academician selected as president of the NCAA and was revered for his ability to stress the educational component of intercollegiate athletics. In his first five years as NCAA president, Brand implemented the most comprehensive academic reform package for intercollegiate athletics in recent history. He was passionate about directing the attention of student-athletes, coaches and administrators on education. He wanted not only those involved in intercollegiate athletics, but also college sports fans en masse, to understand the role of intercollegiate athletics within the academic mission of higher education.

    Under Brand, the NCAA adopted two new measures – the Academic Progress Report and the Graduation Success Rate – to determine how student-athletes are performing in the classroom. For Brand, how student-athletes were performing in the classroom was more important than their successes on the field. He believed that intercollegiate athletics should contribute to and enhance education, not take precedence over it.

    Brand understood the fine line between utilizing revenue generated from intercollegiate athletics to support academic experiences and exploiting student-athletes for profit. His expectations that student-athletes should never be used for commercial gain were clear and unwavering because, as Brand best said in his 2003 State of the Association speech, “In the end, it is all about the student-athlete.”

  • Jerry McGee (North Carolina)

    Award of Merit 2007
    Coach Educator

    North Carolina’s Jerry McGee, CAA, one of the nation’s top athletic directors who founded the National Executive Directors Council (NEDC), has been chosen as the 2007 recipient of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Award of Merit.

    McGee, currently executive director of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association, received the Award of Merit July 3 during the luncheon at the 88th annual NFHS Summer Meeting in Palm Desert, California.

    McGee’s service and accolades in athletic administration are extensive. However, his greatest contribution to the profession may be the creation and leadership of the NEDC. McGee’s vision of a leadership organization for state athletic directors associations has led to many states creating an executive director position. Taking his idea from concept to reality, McGee hosted the first-ever NEDC Summer Summit in 2002 and has helped organize, plan and direct the summits each year.

    At the national level, McGee has been very involved in the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). He spent a number of years as the North Carolina liaison to the NIAAA and served on the NIAAA Certification Committee from 1994 to 2001. He has been a presenter at several National Conferences of High School Directors of Athletics and has been published in IAA Magazine. McGee also served a term on the NFHS/NIAAA Athletic Directors Advisory Committee from 2000 to 2004.

    Among his national honors, McGee was awarded the NFHS Citation in 1997, the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and the NIAAA Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence in 2003. He was also honored with a Distinguished American Award by the North Carolina Triangle Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2006.

    McGee has been a member of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Board of Directors since 1991 and currently serves on the NCHSAA Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He has also served terms on the NCHSAA Realignment and Presidents Advisory Committees. McGee currently serves as executive director of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association, a position he has held since 1991.

    In 1995, McGee was named athletic director of the year by both the NCHSAA and the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NCAAHPERD). In 1996, he earned the NCAAHPERD President’s Award and in 1999, was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame.

    McGee’s involvement and leadership throughout North Carolina and the nation has earned him the recognition of a leader in the profession, to whom so many look to for guidance and encouragement of what an athletic administrator ought to be.

    2009 Dr. Vito Perriello (Virginia)

  • Wilbur Braithwaite (Utah)

    Award of Merit 2006
    Coach Educator

    Wilbur Braithwaite, a former highly successful high school boys basketball coach in Utah for 37 years and one of the leading contributors to the success of the NFHS Coaches’ Quarterly magazine, is the 2006 recipient of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Award of Merit.

    Braithwaite, a 1989 inductee in the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame, received the Award of Merit June 28 during the luncheon at the 87th annual NFHS Summer Meeting at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida.

    Braithwaite, 79, retired in 1988 after 37 years as basketball coach at Manti (Utah) High School. He continued to coach tennis through the 2004-05 season, representing a 53-year career coaching in that sport. During his 37 years at the basketball helm, Braithwaite’s teams compiled a 534-267 record. His 1966 team won the Utah Class B state title, and his teams finished second in the Class 2A tournament three other times – 1977, 1981 and 1983. His tennis teams won 11 state championships and finished second nine times and third on five other occasions.

    More important than victories to Braithwaite was his commitment to teaching young people. After receiving his master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1951, Braithwaite was offered a teaching and coaching position at Utah State University, his alma mater. However, he turned down that offer to fulfill a promise to the Manti superintendent to return to his birthplace, hometown and high school to coach the school’s basketball team. Amazingly, in 37 years as a high school basketball coach, Braithwaite never received a technical foul.

    Braithwaite was named coach of the year in 1966 and was president of the Utah High School Basketball Coaches Association in 1983-84. He received a coaching award in 1987-88 from the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) and was honored by the Utah High School Athletic Directors Association in 1982 with its distinguished service award. In 1988, he was inducted into the Utah Summer Games Hall of Honor and was named 2A Coach of the Year by the UHSAA. In February 2002, Braithwaite had the honor of carrying the torch as it made its way through Manti en route to Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics.

    Braithwaite was a frequent clinic speaker and writer, with many of his articles focusing on sportsmanship and sports philosophy. Because of his background as an accomplished writer and poet, the NFHS selected Braithwaite as a charter member of the NFHS Coaches’ Quarterly Publications Committee in 1996. From that time until his retirement from the committee last year, Braithwaite contributed approximately 30 articles to the magazine.

    “The success of the NFHS Coaches’ Quarterly during the past 10 years is due in large part to the contributions of Wilbur Braithwaite,” said Bruce Howard, NFHS publications and communications director and editor of the NFHS Coaches’ Quarterly. “His articles always show his profound wisdom about the coaching profession and have always been geared to help high school coaches improve not only as coaches, but as human beings. He is the ultimate gentleman, and the life lessons that he taught to hundreds and hundreds of student-athletes will be remembered even more than the victories.”

  • Jim Haugen (Montana)

    Award of Merit 2005
    Coach Educator

    When his teaching career began at his high school alma mater of Sidney (Montana) High School in 1958, Jim Haugen was fresh out of Seattle (Washington) University. Forty-seven years later, Haugen received the NFHS Award of Merit, an award that has now been presented to 35 individuals through the years.

    "It's an understatement to say that it's a surprise," Haugen said. "I always enjoyed association work and especially the relationships with other association staff people, and of course, with the National Federation staff. To receive the award is humbling to say the least."

    Haugen, who retired in 2004 as executive director of the Montana High School Association, made countless contributions to the NFHS during his years of involvement, including serving as NFHS president during the 2003-04 year, capping off his four-year term on the NFHS Board of Directors. Haugen also served on the National Debate Topic Selection Committee, NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, NFHS Competition Committee and NFHS Football Rules Committee.

    At Sidney High School, Haugen was a standout member of the track and field, football and basketball teams, and he also was a four-year member of the American Legion baseball team. After high school, Haugen attended Montana State University-Billings, where he majored in English and speech, and earned 11 letters in track and field, football and basketball. He later earned his master's degree from Seattle University and Washington State University, and was inducted into the MSU-B Hall of Fame.

    With his athletic background, Haugen began teaching and coaching at Sidney High School, where he led the boys basketball team to a 1962 state championship. He served as athletic director from 1967 to 1976, after which he joined the MHSA. He spent 14 years as an assistant director before being promoted to associate director. In 1996, he was again promoted, that time to executive director, a position he held until retirement after the 2003-04 year.

  • Mario J. Donnangelo (Pennsylvania)

    Award of Merit 2002
    Coach Educator

    Mario Donnangelo, whose secondary education and officiating career began more than 40 years ago, is the 2002 recipient of the NFHS Award of Merit.

     Among Donnangelo's many contributions to the NFHS is his service on the National Federation Officials Association (NFOA) Board of Directors, culminating with a term as its president in 1995. Since 1996, he has been a charter member of the NFOA Publications Committee, which oversees the editorial content of the NFHS Officials Quarterly. In addition, Donnangelo has been a member of the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee, a clinician at annual rules interpreters meetings and various state association clinics, and has served as a clinician at NFOA annual conferences since 1987.

    Donnangelo, who has officiated at the high school and college levels since 1960, has been a certified United States Soccer Federation referee since 1961. He has been instrumental in the development and training of soccer officials through his involvement with the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) and the NFHS. An active member of NISOA for more than 40 years, Donnangelo has served as a clinician since 1975. In addition, Donnagelo worked as managing editor of the NISOA newsletter for 17 years, and served as the NISOA president in 1983-84.

    Since 1965, Donnangelo has officiated Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association

    (PIAA) soccer and basketball playoff games, and he has been the PIAA soccer rules interpreter for the past 30 years.

    In recognition of his efforts, Donnangelo was inducted into the NISOA Hall of Fame in 1985 and the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992, and in 1988, he was selected as principal of the year in Pennsylvania. In 1999, Donnangelo received the NFHS Citation for officials, and he was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.