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Tom Nolan Distinguished Coach Award

The Tom Nolan Distinguished Coach Award was established by the Louisiana Track and Field Coaches’ Association in 2018 to honor an outstanding coach from our association as well as honoring the legacy of our friend and coaching colleague, the late Tom Nolan, each year.  The Award recognizes a coach who is or has made a difference in the lives of the student-athletes under his/her tutelage.  While not excluding success in terms of winning and losing, it places greater emphasis on the positive influence he has had over his athletes, in athletics and life.

In establishing the criteria for this award, we had to look no further than the word that Tom Nolan’s coaching peers and athletes used to describe him:  Those words are:  “passion,” “dignity, excellence,”  genuine, “unselfish,”  “influence,” “integrity,” “courage,” “faithful,” and “character.”

2023 – Miguel Becerra

Miguel Becerra has been a part of the Track and Field coaching family since 1986. He started his track career helping out coaching the AAU St. Bernard Express Track Club from 1986-87 upon graduating from Chalmette Senior High in Chalmette in May of 1985. Miguel went on to run Cross Country and Track and Field at Southeast Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana until the Fall of 1990 under Coach Andy Thiel. In 1990-91 school year Miguel took a job as a P.E. Coach/Athletic Director at Trafton Academy in Hammond, Louisiana. He has been at Trafton Academy for thirty-two years and continues to work as AD and PE instructor and has added duties as Spanish Instructor as well as coaching several sports to his plate.  In 1993 Miguel coached his first High School Cross Country team and won the LHSAA Class 4A Ponchatoula High School Girls team title. This win sent him straight to St. Thomas Aquinas as an assistant cross country/track coaching position with his younger brother Jose Becerra until the winter of 2000. Miguel then took the Cross Country reigns and assistant Track coaching position at Southeastern Louisiana University under Head Coach Sean Brady. In 2004 Miguel returned to St. Thomas Aquinas as the Head Cross Country/Track coach under new principal Jose Becerra, whom wanted the position filled by a dedicated and reliable person. The return to the high school ranks has resulted in dozens of state runner-up team awards, an indoor state title, a cross country state title and several outdoor track team titles. Nineteen CC, Indoor and Outdoor State Championships and twenty-five runner-up awards. 

Miguel Becerra (St. Thomas Aquinas), Tommy Badon (Lafayette Christian), and Bill Jones (Dutchtown High School) were awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Awards at this week’s LTFCA Annual Coaching Clinic in Lafayette, Louisiana. They join the following previous awarded coaches such as; Danny Thiel(97), Leon Johnson(00), Irving “Boo” Schexnayder(02), Pete Boudreaux(05), John Boyer(05), James Simmons(07), Bob Woodworth(08) and Mike Corn(10). 

Miguel has been the Southern (Louisiana/Mississippi) AAU Athletics Sports Chair for the last twenty years which governs the Amateur Athletics Union Cross Country and Track and Field programs in Louisiana and Mississippi.  In addition to that position he has been added to the AAU National Cross Country Committee, which he chairs. Coach Miguel has been named the meet director of the 2023 AAU Club Championships to be held in Orlando, Florida this July. 

Miguel is also the NIAL (Northshore Independent Athletic League) Director, which includes eighteen Junior Highs/Middle Schools located on the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain. He has had this position for the last thirteen years and has the responsibility of hosting the Cross Country League Championships of (500-600) athletes and the League Track and Field Championships (600-700) athletes. This position also includes organization of all Sports, Rules, Championships associated within the NIAL.      

From the assistant coaching job with the St. Bernard Express AAU Track and Field Club (now known as the St. Bernard Flyers AAU Club), which started the summer of 1986-1991, to the twenty-six years of the well known Southeast Louisiana Roadrunners AAU Summer Track team that has produced many collegiate track and field athletes in our area. This is the sport that has satisfied Miguel since he was a little boy.  In the neighborhood he would gather up all of the available kids to split them up into two track teams and compete against each other in a pole to pole sprints in the middle of the street, a run around the block would be the distance race, the long jump would take place at the end of the sidewalk into a sand pit, the high jump would be a jump over a stick being held by two people and the landing pad would be a couple of mattresses, and don’t forget those shuttle relays that we did using cut broomsticks as batons. 

Having coaches that made track and field fun in the early years of my life has encouraged me to be the best that I can be and to instill my love for the sport into the minds and bodies of each and every athlete that I coach has given me the drive and motivation to become a very decorated coach. The first time that I coached for the St. Bernard Recreation Department the May of 1985, which resulted in three championships for all three girls’ teams that I coached. These teams included many girls from our neighborhood, my two younger sisters, and their friends. To the many District, Regional, and State Championships that my athletes/teams have won at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Ponchatoula High School and Trafton Academy. And finally to the Collegiate athletes that I have coached as an assistant at Southeastern Louisiana University from 2000-2004. Malia Cali(University of North Carolina), Lindsay Day(Lousiana State University), Whitney Curry(Wake Forrest University), Carmen Brothers(Mississippi State University),  Kinsey Dinnel(Louisiana Tech University), Lila Hamilton(Wellesley College), Courtney Day(USL), Kristin Troxclair(USL), Asbel Ngetich(SLU), Joey Valure(SLU), Mandy Wallace(SLU),  and Shanna Lilkas(SLU), John Ross Donnes(Lynn College), Meghan Becerra(Mississippi College), Glen Ferrill(Mississippi College) and Breanna Becerra(Jacksonville State Univ.) were some of his noted athletes coached, along with the thousands of kids coached at lower elementary, middle school, junior high, high school and collegiate runners. 

The most recent Cross Country State Championship won by the St. Thomas Aquinas girls in Division IV, put the icing on the cake for me, I was seriously considering not coaching at the high school level this year, so I wouldn’t miss any of my daughter’s events her freshman year at Jacksonville State University. However, the hard work that the kids put in last summer changed my mind, I know I have some really good kids in our area coming in the future year’s, so, I will be here for at least another eight years to put in my forty years at Trafton Academy. A special thanks to my wife for supporting me through this awesome journey and my principal Mrs. Susan Day who always supports me with all of my high school events.

2022 – Tim Lemaire

2021 – Frank Trammel

The Tom Nolan Award is presented annually and recognizes the coach that has made a positive difference in the lives of his/her student athletes and has inspired his or her athletes to achieve personal greatness. Kaitlyn Flattman 2011 Cross Country Louisiana Gatorade player and Frank Trammel’s protege had this to say about our 2020 recipient. “Most importantly, what I treasure about my relationship with Trammel was how he has loved me and so many others. In all his quirks he has pushed many to a closer dependence on the Lord and shown us how to love people without consideration for himself. He and his amazing wife will never meet a stranger, or if they do will never let them leave you feeling that way. I’ve learned a lot from Trammel in athletics and use that focus, and drive every day in my current field of work, but he sets an example to all his athletes of excellence in all things, most importantly how we love others. My life is blessed because I know him and I know countless others that say the same thing.” As a coach, Frank inspired his athletes to set their goals high and expect excellence.  At the collegiate level, Frank coached at Northeast University, Northwestern State University and Louisiana Tech. In the high school circuit, Coach Trammel produced multiple team and individual cross country and track state champions while at the helm of both Quitman and Benton High Schools.  
As a former collegiate runner, Frank was a decorated student-athlete while attending Northwestern State University.  Trammel was known for being a fearless risk-taker, among the toughest in any race.  As a Demon Deacon, Frank was an All-American in both xc and track.  After his college days, he competed for Team Adidas at the professional level, qualifying for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Buffalo, NY. One of Coach’s Athletes Sean Foster shared these thoughts about Frank, In my first year at Quitman, I can distinctly remember a run he and I were on and he asked me, “Seany, what are your goals this year?”  I was excited for the question as I had been thinking a lot about it.  I responded with, “I want to win a race this year”.  (Keep in mind, I was not a very good runner and had never placed in any race up to that point).  He stopped in his tracks and looked at me and said, “Son, if that’s all you want, then you need to go home now!!…I think you can be state champion!”  That thought had never crossed my mind and it seemed ridiculous to me at the time but I could see that he was serious and truly believed in me.  From that moment on, every run, workout or weight session was dedicated to try and be state champion…which I accomplished a year later.  Again, now later in life, it’s not the state championship I think about and tell my kids and teams at work about, it’s the lesson of setting your goals and dreams at a very high bar and to expect and work for excellence. Coach Kent Falting shared these thoughts about Frank… I have the pleasure of eating lunch with Frank a few times each year. There has not been a meal we have shared in the last 15 years that wasn’t interrupted by a former athlete sharing his stories about Coach Trammel. Coach Trammel remembers each person’s name, their family members, their occupation, and what they ran in high school. It’s almost uncanny how much he invests in his athletes’ lives. Coaching is about so much more than simple training plans, and Frank truly understands this.  Bentonville W. High School Coach Mark Hammiter sums it up best when he shared these words… We have all been gifted with Frank’s legacy of extreme selflessness, positive energy, relationship-based coaching, and an unyielding passion for helping people chase their dreams in life.  He has brought peace in rooms where nobody thought it was possible, to teach people the power of love and unity.   I dare you to try and think about Frank Trammel without smiling, laughing, or breaking down and crying.  It’s virtually impossible.   Coach Tom Nolan is smiling on his running buddy, as he receives this most-deserved award. 


Pete Boudreaux – Catholic High School –

The recipient of this year’s Tom Nolan Distinguished Coach Award certainly fits that description.  Coach Pete Boudreaux of Catholic High School of Baton Rouge has been making a difference in the lives of his students and athletes for 51 years. Proving the adage that “Nice Guys Can Finish First,”  Pete’s teams have won an amazing 50 State Championships, 18 in Cross Country, 14 in Indoor Track and Field, and 18 Outdoor State Track Championships.  In 2017, Catholic High, Pete’s Alma Mater,  honored his legacy and success by dedicating the newly renovated track and field facility in his honor, the “Pete Boudreaux Track.”  Pete has been honored by his selection to the Catholic High and Grizzly Greats Hall of Fames, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the National High School Hall of Fame, and most importantly, the LTFCA Lifetime Achievement Award.  Through it all, he has maintained a humble, Christ-like,  demeanor.  He is always available to help, be it with a struggling athlete, or even an opposing coach, seeking to garner some tidbit of wisdom, with characteristic grace and compassion.  He has been the elder statesman for our track and cross country profession in Louisiana, representing us wisely, be it with LSU or the LHSAA.  When we don’t know what to do, the obvious solution is “Call Pete!”  His calm, wise counsel has helped guide our sports, particularly cross country from its infancy to the position it maintains today. His sphere of influence spreads beyond even his athletes, to the coaches who have coached with him, the coaches who have coached against him, and the athletes that these coaches have influenced.  As Gene Tullier, Catholic High President said, “ Pete has set the standard for coaches through humble service, personal attention, and genuine love of his students.  Thousands of student athletes and literally hundreds of coaches are much better for it.”  Pete’s Principal, Lisa Harvey said, “His contributions to the sport of Track and Field throughout Louisiana and the country are legendary.” 

Passion, Dignity, Excellence, Genuine, Unselfish, Influence, Integrity, Courage, Faithful, Character, Christian.    I know that Tom Nolan is smiling down on us today!  Coach Pete Boudreaux. 


Eddie Cole – Episcopal High School –Coach Eddie Cole has had a long and varied career in Cross Country and Track and Field in the State of Louisiana.  After competing as a distance runner for LSU and 2 years of military service in the U.S. Army, he began his coaching career as a Graduate Assistant Track Coach at LSU from 1973-1976. During that time, he started the Cross Country program at University High School.  His Boys’ Teams won 3 Class A State Championships and his Girls’ team finished as State Runner Up in all classes in the inaugural Girls State Cross Country Meet in 1975. After completing his Master’s Degree at LSU, he accepted a position at E.D. White Catholic High School in Thibodaux and started his second cross country program. During his 32 year tenure there, the E.D. White boys and girls’ teams won  numerous State Championships in Cross Country. In 1978, he authored the LHSAA proposal which allowed Girls’ Track athletes to compete in the same events as Boys Track athletes.  In 2008, he accepted a position as Girls Track and Cross Country coach at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge where he coached championship teams until his retirement in 2018. Eddie served as President of the LTFCA in 1995 and 1996 and began the Academic All State programs for Track and Cross Country  in 1996. The LTFCA recognized  over 2,500 athletes for their academic excellence until the LHSAA began their own Academic All State Cross Country and Track Programs. Coach Cole served as the Awards Chairman for the LTFCA from 2005 until his retirement in 2018. 


Tom Nolan – Comeaux High School –
It is fitting that when the Louisiana Track and Field Coaches’ Association established the Tom Nolan Distinguished Coach Award in 2018, it decided to honor Tom Nolan as one of the Award’s first recipients. Tom was a fixture on the track and cross country scenes in southwest Louisiana for almost 30 years.  Sadly, Tom passed away in October 2007, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Although Tom is no longer with us, the legacy he established as a coach who made a difference in the lives of countless young people will continue for perpetuity. Some of Tom’s colleagues remembered Tom this way: “Everyone in life  has someone that touches them, that inspires them to be whatever it is they dream to be; every aspect of  his life was inspirational.”  Another recalled, “He lived for the kids  he taught and coached, he lived for his sport, he lived for God, and most of all, he lived………..” Towards the end of his illness, Tom wrote one last message to his friends and colleagues which maybe says it all.  “ I’ve run the good race, I’ve given my all. I’ve tried to be a good son, a good husband, a good teacher, friend, and coach. I’ve tried hard to follow Jesus through the gates. I hope I did all He wanted me to do. Thanks for everything everyone is doing and has done for me.”  The words that Tom’s coaching peers and athletes used to describe him became the criteria for the award established in his honor.  Those words are passion, dignity, excellence, genuine, unselfish, influence, integrity, courage, faithful, and character.  Those of us who were fortunate enough to know Tom were truly blessed and will never forget him.

Wally Smith – Holy Savior Menard High School –Coach Wally Smith turned to coaching as a 2nd career when he began coaching Boys and Girls Cross Country at Holy Savior Menard High School in 1985. The central Louisiana region and the state of Louisiana in general are better for it. Wally’s love of the sports of Cross Country and Track and Field are only surpassed by his love for his athletes, a love they reciprocate as shown by the way they have compete for him year and year out. Wally’s interest in his athletes beyond the playing field is  evident. He and his wife Becky have hosted a weekly Youth Prayer Meeting in their home since 1992.  Wally has truly “made a difference” in the lives of all the young people he has worked with. Here’s what some of Wally’s athletes had to say about him. “He is the most joyful, caring, and passionate person that I’ve ever met, and he’s inspired me on countless occasions when I’ve faced obstacles in my life.” Another recalled, “Coach Smith shaped me as a person, challenged me to push myself to be the best that I can be. He shaped my faith by sharing his whole life with our team of runner.”  “He cared about our personal success and development both in running and life. He took time to learn and know each one of us.”  Clearly Coach Wally Smith is a “difference  maker!”  When Coach Tom Nolan, who this award is named for, was near the end of his battle with cancer, Coach Smith’s Menard team designed a “Menard Loves Tom” shirt in Tom’s school’s colors, Comeaux High School, which they wore in the Comeaux Race.  After the race, the Menard runners gave their t shirts to the Comeaux runners in tribute to their coach.  It was a special moment for all who were there and is indicative of the “distinguished” career and impact of Coach Wally Smith.