Five coaches from Altus Public Schools were named District 4 Coaches of the Year by the Oklahoma Coaches Association during a meeting on April 18, 2012. Honored from Altus were Jay Benway, Assistant Coach of the Year; Robert Garrison, Junior High Coach of the Year; Randle Hawkins (not pictured), Track Coach of the Year; Linda Wiginton, Swimming Coach of the Year; and Nick Williams, Wrestling Coach of the Year.
Jay Benway started Coaching in Altus in 1993. A Watonga High School graduate, he received his degree from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Mr. Benway taught at Eugene Field for 10 years and is currently in his ninth year as the Physical Education instructor at Will Rogers Elementary School.
Mr. Benway currently coaches high school football, wrestling, and boys track. In the past, he has coached junior high football, junior high boys track, junior high wrestling, and 7th and 8th grade boys basketball. “I feel very fortunate to be coaching and to have coached with so many good people,” said Mr. Benway.
A few of his teams’ accomplishments have been winning the State Championship in track during the 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2004 seasons. He was also an assistant coach for two State Runner-Up teams in wrestling during 2010 and 2012. In 2001 he was an assistant coach for the State Runner-Up football team. In addition, Benway was named the 2004 Track Coach of the Year by the OSSAA.
He has a son (Jayden, 8th grade), and a daughter (Jordan, 5th grade), and he enjoys watching them compete in their athletic events, as well.
Robert Garrison has been coaching in Altus for 19 years. At the junior high level, he has coached football, girls basketball, baseball, and girls track. A native of Altus, Mr. Garrison was a Will Rogers Bronco, a Northeast Husky, and a proud Altus Bulldog (Class of 1985). He played football and was a three-event participant at the State Track and Field Meet in 1985.
“My track coaching philosophy comes from the fact that I was coached in high school by two Hall of Fame coaches in Bob Hart and Chuck Roberts,” said Mr. Garrison.
Mr. Garrison’s wife, Rhonda, teaches English at Altus High School. They have three children: Nick, who runs cross country and track at Wayland Baptist University (the 2012 NAIA Indoor National Champions); Chase, a sophomore who plays football for Altus; and Bethany, who goes to Will Rogers and is an award-winning dancer with Off the Wall Dance Company. “In fact, my children are my hobby,” said Mr. Garrison. Traveling to contests, being a ‘Dance Dad’ and a pageant interview coach take up much of his time.
Some of Garrison’s teams’ accomplishments include winning the Great Plains Conference Championship in football, and the Great Plains Conference Championship in girls track (four times in five years, including the last championship in conference history).
Mr. Garrison has been the assistant high school girls track coach for eight years, coaching two State Runner-Up teams, as well as the 2012 Class 5A State Champion Girls Track Team.
He has coached two hurdle State Champions, Evan Tims (100 Hurdles) and Michelle Phillips (300 Hurdles), both of whom set school records.
“I’ve been blessed to be around so many great athletes in my life. Any and all awards I’ve ever received are more a credit to them,” said Mr. Garrison. “But the best honor or award I’ve ever won was being named the Altus School District Teacher of the Year. As a coach I believe it is just as important what I do in the classroom as it is what my accomplishments are on the field.”
Linda Wiginton has coached for 29 years. This is her tenth time to be named a Region 4 Coach of the Year, and she has been named the Oklahoma Coaches Association’s Swim Coach of the Year for the state four times. In addition, Mrs. Wiginton was honored as the National Federation of High School Coaches Association’s Swim Coach of the Year for Girls in 2006.
She coached the Boys Swimming State Championship Team in 2010 and First Runner-Up Team in 2011. Her cumulative win/loss record of boys and girls teams together is 907 wins, 258 losses, and 6 ties.
In addition to her coaching honors, she was named the Altus Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2004.
Mrs. Wiginton and her husband, Larry, have been married 29 years. They have two sons: Chad, who along with his wife, Ericka, have a five-year-old son, Kade; and Dallas, who attends UCO in Edmond.
Mrs. Wiginton loves animals and enjoys reading, slalom water skiing, spending time with family and friends, and trying to make a difference in the lives of the kids she coaches.
Nick Williams is the head wrestling coach for Altus High School, a position he has held for eight years. His team has a record of 144 wins and 37 losses. Mr. Williams is a two-time recipient of the Oklahoma Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award for the state, and this is his fifth time to be named Regional Coach of the year.
Mr. Williams has coached two State Runner-Ups, three Regional Champions, five District Champions, and three State Semi-Finalists at Dual State.
Mr. Williams and his wife, Shonda, have four children: Cameron Loving, age 15; London Williams, age 12; Dawson Loving, age 11; and Mallory Williams, age 8.