Sept. 20, 2013
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. -- Scott Irving, the associate head coach of the Air Force track and field team for the past 14 years, will retire on September 30. As the event coach of the Falcons' throwing team since 1999, Irving has been instrumental in the team's rise at both the conference and national levels.
"I absolutely loved coaching at the Academy," Irving said. "No other place holds a candle to USAFA ... it's not even close. Everyone ... from the coaches and administrators to the custodians and facility crew ... has helped make this program what it is today. It has been an incredible honor to coach with the likes of Ralph Lindeman, Juli Benson, Scott Steffan, Allen Johnson, Mark Stanforth, Bob Graf and Ron White, as well as all of volunteer coaches. Of course, the cadets have been a real blessing and I will miss them all dearly."
During his tenure at Air Force, Irving has taught numerous classes in the Academy's physical education department (2000-13), while coaching the pole vault (2000-03), horizontal jumps (2004-06) and throwing events (2000-13). In addition, he coordinated the strength and conditioning program for the entire track and field program from 2000 to 2001.
Irving has also coordinated the officials that volunteer their time to assist with all Air Force home competitions, as well as other meets held at the Academy facilities, noting that "they constantly epitomize the ideal of going above and beyond."
"Scott's been invaluable to this coaching staff for the past 14 seasons," Air Force head coach Ralph Lindeman said. "He began his coaching day right after lunch, every day, by scheduling cadets to come down to work with him individually, and then was one of the last to leave the field most every evening. Scott truly gave all his throwers the gift of individualized instruction, coaching and caring."
Under Irving's direction, Dana Pounds won back-to-back NCAA national titles in the javelin throw (2005, 2006), while setting the Mountain West record of 195'8"
The success of Pounds continued after her graduation, as Irving served as her personal coach while she took part in the Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). The champion of the 2007 U.S. National Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Pounds was a member of the Team USA squad that competed at the world championships that year and finished second at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
He coached seven of the 10 NCAA Division I All-Americans for all women's sports at the Academy, including Pounds (2004, 2005, 2006 javelin), Olivia Korte (2006 discus) and Sara Neubauer (2009, 2010 discus; 2009 shot put), while leading Neubauer to the shot put title at the U.S. Junior National Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2007.
Irving coached 12 of the Academy's female Mountain West champions (all sports), highlighted by six individuals who combined for 11 throwing titles (Dominique Boivin - 2003 discus; Pounds - 2004, 2005, 2006 javelin; Korte - 2007 discus; Neubauer - 2010 indoor shot put, 2010 outdoor shot put, 2010 weight throw, 2010 discus; Katie Weber - 2010 javelin; Paige Blackburn - 2012 javelin). In addition, he was the event coach for Ana-Maria Ortega when she won the conference title in the pole vault during the 2001 season.
On the men's side, Irving-coached athletes accounted for nine Mountain West titles. Three Falcons combined for four javelin titles, including Joe Bonner (2000), Tim Fritz (2002, 2003) and Matt Schwandt (2007), while Robert Drye claimed back-to-back first-place finishes in the hammer throw (2011, 2012) and Anthony Park swept the long jump titles at the 2004 indoor and outdoor conference championship meets. In addition, David Lissy won the shot put at the 2008 MW Indoor Championships.
The throwers on the men's team have outscored all other teams at the Mountain West Championships on three occasions (2008 indoors, 2001 outdoors, 2013 outdoors). The men tallied a record 55 points in the throwing events at the MW Outdoor Championships, highlighted by seven all-MW selections (Brian Ford - hammer, discus; James Chambers - discus, shot put; Garrett Griffin - javelin; Grant Hamilton - shot put).
In 2011, Cole became the first member of the men's throwing program to garner All-America recognition, receiving Honorable Mention status after advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the discus throw.
Irving has coached countless Academy record holders. In addition to the throwing marks in the indoor and outdoor shot put (men: Shawn Johnson, women: Neubauer), discus throw (men: James Cole, women: Korte), javelin throw (men: Bonner, women: Pounds), weight throw (men: William Kent, women: Blackburn) and hammer throw (men: Drye; women: Neubauer), Irving also coached Park and Chris Banks in 2004 when they respectively set the Academy records in the indoor and outdoor triple jump.
Irving's influence on the Academy has not gone unnoticed by others, especially those coaches in the Mountain West that have coached alongside him.
"Scott has truly left a lasting legacy at Air Force," Colorado State head coach Brian Bedard said when he heard of Irving's impending retirement. "He should be proud of his work and the relationships he's made with the student-athletes. It has been a pleasure to coach against him, and with him. I've always appreciated the encouragement and support he has given to me and the CSU athletes ... those efforts have not gone unnoticed. He has been a gentleman and mentor to his team and to the sport of track and field."
During his tenure, 12 athletes have earned All-Academic Team honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), with Ford (2013) being the most recent honoree for student-athletes that boast a strong GPA and advanced to the NCAA Championship meet. In addition, Pounds was recognized as the Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and Kent was awarded the Mountain West and NCAA Sportsmanship Awards in 2013.
Irving was twice recognized as the NCAA Division I Women's Assistant Coach of the Year (2009, 2010) by the USTFCCCA. The members of his 2007 and 2010 women's throwing teams were recognized by Sportswomen of Colorado, Inc., while Irving received a Career Achievement Award from the organization in 2013. In addition, he was honored as the Lifetime Instructor of the Semester for Physical Education (fall 2003, fall 2012).
"Personally, I'll miss Scott as a friend, colleague, collaborator and confidant," Lindeman added. "He's someone that I've shared values with, as well as countless conversations through the years in our efforts to not only optimize our athletes' results on the field, but to develop leaders of character for the Air Force and our country. While he can be proud of the accomplishments of his many athletes, I think he can be most proud of that fact."
Irving voiced the same sentiment, when he stated that "winning and records are tremendous, but the bottom line is helping develop officers of character, who will protect and defend our great nation."
Following his retirement, Irving and his wife, Allyn, will split their time between Fort Garland, Colo., and Tucson, Ariz. The recipient of an art history master's from Northwestern, Irving looks forward to pursuing his love of art by creating bronze sculptures with a track and field emphasis.