#TBT: Pioneer Mourns Champion Coach

July 9, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Ann Arbor Pioneer this week mourned longtime girls track & field and cross country coach Bryan Westfield, who died Sunday at the age of 72 and led Pioneers teams to a combined 19 MHSAA team championships over a career spanning more than three decades.

The Pioneers won their first girls track & field title under Westfield in 1985, edging Detroit Cass Tech 56-50 in Lower Peninsula Class A at Flint’s Houston Stadium. Pioneer went on to win the next six LP Class A titles, then strung together four more straight wins from 1996-99. His track & field teams won five more titles during the first decade of the 2000s, most recently in 2008, and the program holds the record for Lower Peninsula Finals championships with 16, six more than Detroit Renaissance.

Westfield’s girls cross country teams won back-to-back LP Class A titles in 1987 and 1988, and then won again in 1997.

Westfield graduated from Ann Arbor High School – the predecessor to Pioneer – in 1960 having lettered in football and track & field. He competed in both at Cornell University and eventually returned to Pioneer as a teacher. He also had a brief stint with the New York Giants’ developmental squad and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1964.

He began coaching Pioneer’s girls track & field and cross country teams in 1978 and coached both during the 2014-15 school year. He was inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014, among a number of accolades earned over the years.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. The school’s track was dedicated in 2012 to Westfield and former boys track & field coach Don Sleeman.

Click for Westfield’s obituary and coverage of his passing from AnnArbor.com.

PHOTO: Coach Bryan Westfield stands with his 1990 team after it won the Lower Peninsula Class A track & field championship. 

Kent City's Evers Selected for NFHS National 'Coach of the Year' Honor

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

January 11, 2023

Kent City cross country coach Jill Evers has been named the 2021-22 National Coach of the Year for girls cross country by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.

Evers was selected by a committee including representatives from all eight NFHS sections – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The following brief bio includes an excerpt from Evers’ coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.

Jill EversJill Evers joined the Kent City athletic staff as an assistant cross country coach in 1991 after previously coaching a season each at Allegan High School and Allegan Middle School. She took over Kent City’s girls and boys varsity cross country programs in 1993 and also has served as head girls track & field coach since 1993. She led Kent City’s girls cross country team to a Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final runner-up finish in 2021, the program’s second runner-up finish under her leadership, and she’s also guided Kent City’s girls program to 15 league and seven Regional titles and nine total top-eight Finals finishes. She previously was named an NFHS Section Coach of the Year for girls track & field in 2006 after leading Kent City’s girls track & field team to its first MHSAA Finals championship in that sport, and inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012. Evers also is a longtime science teacher at Kent City and advisor and mentor for a variety of school activities in addition to coaching.

“I know people say, ‘Athletics is an extension of the classroom,’ but I believe it's so much more than that. While participating in sports, young people can learn about themselves and others, challenge themselves and grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Athletics is where we learn life lessons, such as how to lose with grace, cheer for teammates and even opponents, win with humility, deal with adversity, empathize with others, respect all those involved, be grateful for healthy bodies and opportunities to compete and push ourselves beyond what was originally thought possible. Success is different for each person, but I believe cross country lends itself to individual success. Everyone can improve and learn lifelong healthy habits. Everyone can set and achieve goals. Those who aren't as fast often earn the respect of the more gifted runners because of their perseverance. It is my job as a coach to encourage, motivate, and challenge all students who want to participate, and then congratulate them for a job well done.”

Three more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Mark Posey was honored in boys golf after leading Big Rapids to a 10th-place finish in Lower Peninsula Division 3 in 2022 after four straight Finals runner-up finishes. (There was no LP boys golf season in 2020 due to COVID-19.) Lake Orion boys lacrosse coach Ronald Hebert was honored after guiding his team to the Division 1 Quarterfinals last spring after taking the Dragons to the Semifinals in 2021. Scott Werner was honored in girls track & field after leading Pewamo-Westphalia to a runner-up finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. P-W shared the LPD3 Finals championship in 2021 and has won titles four of the last nine seasons (not counting 2020).

The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982.