Carla Coffey, retired track and field coach, was recently recognized at the Annual USATF Meeting in Reno, NV.
Coffey, a Somerset High School Hall of Fame inductee, was recognized with the prestigious Joseph Robichaux Award. This award is given by USATF Women's Track and Field Committee and with her exemplary career and the lasting influence Carla has had on so many of her athletes and the profession of track and field.
Coffey was the team captain and MVP multiple times for the Women's track-and-field, volleyball, and basketball teams at Murray State, eventually being the first female elected into the Murray State University Hall-of-Fame in 1981. She was also the first woman elected into Western Kentucky University's Hall-of-Fame. She was a National Champion and two-time collegiate All-American in the 100 meter hurdles, and National Runner-Up in the 200 meters. She was the first alternate for the 1972 United States Olympic Team in the 100 meter hurdles. And she was a member of the First USA Olympic Team Handball Squad in 1974-75, eventually being an alternate when the Olympics rolled around in 1976.
As amazing as her athletic career was, it is just the tip of the iceberg with this extraordinary woman. She has excelled on a state and national level as both a coach and a pioneer. Her first job out of college was as the Head Coach of the Louisville Iroquois High School Girls' and Boys' Track and Cross-Country teams, as well as the Girls' Basketball team. It marked the first time in the history of Jefferson County schools that an African-American female was named Head Coach of an all-male, all-white varsity team. At a time when racial bigotry and sexism was still rampant and unchecked in hiring practices, Carla Coffey was able to break through both barriers because she was simply too good at what she did to be passed over.
After Iroquois she went on to coach at Bowling Green High School before moving to the collegiate ranks. There she coached at Western Kentucky, Cal-Davis, Kansas, Dartmouth, and ultimately Smith College. She was named the New England Women's Track and Field Coach of the Year in 2004. She has also had much involvement with the US Olympic Teams and as a member of the board on many athletic councils and organizations. She also works as a lecturer, mentor, motivational speaker, and physical trainer.
Joseph Robichaux Award
Each year, in remembrance of the many years of dedicated service Joseph Robichaux contributed to Women's Track and Field and to the youth of our country, an award is given in his name to one who has made outstanding contributions to the Women's Track and Field program in the United States.