The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Goldman earns girls coach of the year

  • Heber Springs Coach Johnette Goldman pours her heart and soul into the Heber Springs track and cross country programs, many days working from dusk to dawn to prepare her teams for championship seasons.
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  • Heber Springs Coach Johnette Goldman pours her heart and soul into the Heber Springs track and cross country programs, many days working from dusk to dawn to prepare her teams for championship seasons.
    The hard work has paid off for Goldman, who has helped construct a dynasty renowned throughout the state. Under her direction, the Lady Panthers have won six state championships in cross country (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2013).
    Goldman received recognition for her program’s incredible run last Thursday at the Arkansas High School All-Star basketball game at the Farris Center in Conway, where she was called to center court to accept her plaque as the Outstanding Coach of the Year for girls cross country.
    Goldman said the award is a reflection of a group effort.
    “The AAA honored the Heber Springs XC Panthers program by providing me a plaque that, in my opinion, represents decades of ladies and gentlemen who sacrificed, in many ways, to start a tradition here at Heber Springs.”
    Judge Steve Choate and former coaches Harold Wilson and Jerry Hutchison should be commended for starting the program, said Goldman.
    “Names of awesome kids come to mind, but there are too many to list from over three decades. Judge Steve Choate was very instrumental in helping us get girls cross country started with his encouragement and support of our kids.
    “As I recall, a few seasons prior, Coach Harold Wilson had already been taking some of his boys to Saturday morning races, after Friday night football games, to help them be better prepared for spring track. He was very helpful, of course, as I consider him the father of the Heber Springs' running program. Coach Jerry Hutchison taught me a great deal during his time here,” added Goldman.
    The Lady Panthers captured the state championship this past fall at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. Goldman said the kids, parents, school and community deserve credit.
    “Mary Simmons, Madi Fires, Amanda Matthews, Korl Cusick, Grace Lehfeldt, Ashley Patchell, Adrianna Simmons, Erin Holland, Sarah Archer and Hannah Mangum determined to continue the tradition,” said Goldman.
    “Of course, Coach Dale Cresswell, two-time boys triple crown coach and three-time AAA Coach of the Year for track and once AAA Coach of the Year for cross country, is a huge part of our program, with his charismatic fatherly coaching style. I am trying to say, in no way did I get this on my own merit. I humbly accept it for what it represents: years of great kids, great parents, great fellow coaches and a supportive school and community,” added Goldman.
    Cross country is a sport that athletes can use to their benefit in various other sporting endeavors.
    “I find cross country to be a wonderful sport,” said Goldman. “If you have a kid willing to work hard, most of the time, he or she can find self-fulfillment and the benefits of the comradeship found in a team. Each runner can find his or her own level of achievement, be it a state champion or distance/time progress. I also learned how much it can contribute to the stamina for other sports. The Lord has truly been blessed me through cross country.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Goldman’s success is certainly not limited to cross country.
    The Heber girls’ track and field program has finished as outdoor state runner-up three times (1989, 1990, 2013) and indoor state runner-up seven times (1992, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014). The Lady Panthers won the indoor state title in 2001.
    Since her arrival in 1980, Goldman has steered the Lady Panthers to 27 outdoor conference championships over the past 28 years, including 16 consecutive dating back to 1999.
    “To me, I see one year round effort that competes during three seasons (cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track), not twelve teams (XC/TF: 7th girls and boys, junior girls and boys, senior girls & boys). Coach Cresswell and I can accomplish more for more by coaching all the kids,” added Goldman.
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