Smith Gilbert Named South Region Coach of the Year

June 9, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - In just her second season at the helm of the UCF track and field program, head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert has been named the 2009 South Region Coach of the Year, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Monday. Smith Gilbert won the honor based on a vote of the region's head coaches.

"It is both exciting and humbling to be recognized by my peers as the South Region Coach of the Year, especially in a region with so many outstanding coaches and teams," said Smith Gilbert. "Awards such as this one are significant because as coaches we must always remember that coaching is not about us. Coaching is really about positively transforming the lives of our student-athletes and being great examples for those around us.

"I am blessed to have the opportunity to coach such a driven, dedicated group of young women," Smith Gilbert added. "Our athletes have worked extremely hard this season, and I am proud of their accomplishments athletically as well as away from the track."

The South Region consists of some of the nation's top women's track and field programs, including five of the current top-25. Among other teams, the region includes No. 4 Florida State, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 14 Florida, No. 17 Auburn, No. 19 Miami (Fla.), Alabama and USF.

In 2009, Smith Gilbert has guided the Knights to the program's highest finish in both the C-USA Outdoor Championships (second) and the NCAA East Regionals (ninth). In addition, Smith Gilbert will bring five student-athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships this week in Arkansas. Prior to this season, only one athlete had qualified for nationals in the program's history.

"This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of so many people," said Smith Gilbert. "I am grateful to have a terrific coaching staff that gives their all each and every day to help this program improve and excel."

Under Smith Gilbert's guidance, UCF has broken 13 school records during the 2009 outdoor season. In the indoor season, three Knights - senior Dione Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.), junior Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) and freshman Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.) - garnered All-American status at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

The NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by Arkansas, run from Wednesday to Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. The five athletes competing for UCF will be Thomas in the triple jump, James in the 100-meter hurdles, LaKendra Thames (Winter Garden, Fla.) and Kelsey Poljansek (Milton, Kan.) in the discus and Lizzie Harris (Miami, Fla.) in the high jump.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.