By David Lim and Jessica Lee
Track and Field Program Head Jonas Koolsbergen and Girls’ Soccer Head Coach Richard Simms won the California Coaches Association Coach of the Year awards in early April. Both coaches were recognized based on their achievements coaching this year. Koolsbergen was also nominated last year for the award. Koolsbergen emphasized that the award not only recognizes the coach but the program as a whole and all the athletes involved.
“[The award] honors tremendous and extremely dedicated athletes and their work and it of course also honors talented, knowledgeable and superb assistant coaches,” Koolsbergen said.
For each sport, five finalists were chosen in January from the 15 coaches that members of the CCA nominated. The CCA notified the recipients of the honor at the beginning of April.
Simms, who joined the coaching staff in 2005, helped catapult the girls’ soccer squad to their highest ranking ever at ninth in the nation.
“This year’s team did exceptionally well,” Simms said. “We relied on more ninth and 10th graders than any year previously and they far exceeded our expectations with their performance.”
In his 22nd year heading the track and field program at Harvard-Westlake, Koolsbergen said his proudest moment this year was “a tie between winning the Southern Section Team Championship and our night of truly extraordinary success at State Finals.”
The Coach of the Year awards also recognized Koolsbergen’s and Simms’ “professional contributions of time, services and dedication” outside of school, according to the award criteria. Koolsbergen also coaches Gold Medal AC, a track club run with other Harvard-Westlake coaches, and Simms leads three club teams in the Coast Soccer League.
“It’s an accomplishment that our entire school and program should take pride in,” Simms said. “From the players, parents, coaches and administrators I am very grateful for everyone’s contributions. It is a tremendous achievement.”