Last week, Poland softball head coach Reid Lamport was recognized as the National Federation of State High School Associations 2011 Mideast Sectional Coach of the Year in the sport of softball. The recognition comes after the Poland girls earned their first state championship game last spring.
The NFHS annually recognizes coaches across the United States in their respective sports. The awards program began in 1982.
Last week, 407 coaches were recognized and Lamport joined that elite group. It was a just reward for someone who had devoted so many years to coaching.
Photo by Mike Capps, Town Crier correspondent
Poland girls head softball coach Reid Lamport, center, proudly displays the 2011 state championship trophy his girls earned at the end of a fantastic season. Last week, Lamport was recognized as the 2011 NFHS Mideast Sectional Coach of the Year.
Lamport started in the 1970s and coached football at schools such as Reserve High School in Warren and Mathews High School in Largo, Fla., and before coming to Poland, served as a coach at Jefferson High School in Ashtabula County. In 1986, he moved to Poland where he was hired as the new head football coach, a position he held for seven years. It was in 1990 that his focus began to turn to softball.
"I really hadn't planned to switch from football to softball," Lamport said. "To bring in a little extra income, I started umpiring."
Lamport said the high school principal approached him about filling a vacancy in softball.
"The next thing I knew, I was coaching softball," he said.
Lamport continued to coach both football and softball until 1993 when he dropped football to focus on the girls' diamond. It took time to build the program and in 2001 the Poland girls got their first taste of state competition, ending up runners up that year. The season was repeated in 2010 with the same outcome. The third time was a charm in 2011 with the girls taking it all at state.
As for his recent award, he said, "It's always nice to be recognized by your peers. To keep it in perspective though, it is really all about the parents, the assistant coaches, a good wife, and a talented group of girls. All those contribute. This award is really for all of us."
He said the key is talent and Poland has a lot of that. The younger girls watch the older girls play as a team and they get the desire to play softball, so when they reach Lamport's team, they have already developed some skills. The talent is a key that makes Lamport's job easier, he said.
"The Poland community has always turned out good softball players," he said. "It all starts with talent. From there on I have to blend the talent and make them all work together."
In a letter to Lamport from NFHS Coaches Association Chair Jeff Arbogast wrote, "Congratulations on being selected to represent all of those deserving coaches in your area... You contributions to high school athletics are truly deserving of our recognition and thanks."