Don Cotton to be inducted in IATCCC Track and Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame
By Justin Shockey email@example.com | Saturday, January 19, 2013
Don Cotton, future Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame inductee takes a break at practice while his team is stretching behind him.
For Don Cotton in his 44th year of coaching in the Huntington Community Schools system the reward of coaching is not materialistic. Honors and recognition go hand-in-hand with success, of which Cotton has much. But what Cotton appreciates more is the relationship he is able to build with his athletes.
“There have been kids who have come up to me and said things like, ‘I never would’ve graduated from high school if it hadn’t of been for you.’ To me that means so much more than a track meet.”
Cotton is one of thirteen Indiana coaches or athletes involved with running competively that will be inducted into the Indiana Track and Field and Cross County Hall of Fame on Feb. 1 at the IATCCC Track and Field clinic. Cotton, nominated by his peers for induction, has been coaching in Huntington for the past four decades. He started out coaching at Riverview Middle School for 13 years with the boys seventh, eighth and ninth grade cross country teams. When the freshman moved to the high school in 1982 he joined them and became an assistant boys track coach and the head coach for the girls. In 2000 after the boys failed to move on after sectionals, Cotton took the reigns and told then Athletic Director Joe Santa that if he did not have them in the semi state the following year then he could be fired. They made it there and by 2003 they were standing on the podium at the state meet with a fifth-place finish.
Cotton has coached his girls cross-country teams to seven IHSAA Sectional championships, four IHSAA Regional championships , and seven IHSAA State Final appearances. He has coached the boys’ cross-country teams to three IHSAA Sectional championships, three IHSAA Regional championships, and two IHSAA State Final appearances. On the track side of things, hey coached his girls’ track teams to 18 IHSAA Sectional championships and has had 27 IHSAA State finalists. Including two state champions. One of Don’s best coaching streaks has been his girls’ NCC finishes. Coached by Cotton, the girls’ have never lost the NCC title in cross-country or track.
With his resume it’s hard to believe coaching was never a plan for Cotton.
“When I went into teaching I had no intentions of coaching,” he said. “It was offered to me at the middle school level and I thought I would like to do it so I gave it a shot. Once you get involved you get into it and you have a lot of fun with it. When I moved from the junior high to the high school I didn’t even know if I would actually be involved or not but I received the opportunity and the rest is history.”
For Cotton however the resume additions are not awards nor are they honors. They are the various lives he’s touched in his position as head coach to his student athletes.
“I have a sign on my wall which says, ‘True success is measured by the lives you’ve changed not the trophies you’ve obtained.’ That’s so much more important and I think it’s probably true in any sport. A lot of times there are those kids who may not have graduated and may not have gone onto college but they succeeded in life because they had that avenue. To me it’s much more important to steer a kid in that direction that it is to win a track meet and I hope I’ve had that motivation over my runners.”
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