TROY MILLS — North Linn cross country coach Bob Mudd has been nominated for National Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
Mudd has coached 36 years at North Linn, taking 29 teams to state. The Lynx won a state championship in 1999 and were runners-up on seven occasions.
In all, he has coached 14 teams to top-four finishes at state and has coached elite runners like Jacinda Grishaber, Jessie Henderson, Ellen Ries and Nicole Miller.
A runner at Ames High School and Wartburg College before taking the job at North Linn in 1975, Mudd is now one of eight finalists for the award, based on career accomplishments in coaching. The winner of the National Coach of the Year Award will be announced at a banquet in Des Moines in June.
A story written on Mudd in 2009:
TROY MILLS — Bob Mudd cares.
That’s why he drives to Cedar Rapids three times a week to volunteer as a patient visitor at St. Luke’s Hospital. To hand out magazines, crossword puzzles and lunch tickets. To interact.
“I hit every floor I can,” he said. “I really, really enjoy it. It fills a big void for me.”
And that’s why he continues to coach, even though he retired as a middle-school science teacher in 2008.
“He’s so good about knowing everybody on a personal level,” said Brandy Zumbach, a senior cross country runner at North Linn High School. “You know he genuinely cares about you.”
“I think kids just need to know that you have an interest in them,” said Mudd, 57, who will take a girls’ team to the state meet — today at Lakeside Golf Course near Fort Dodge — for the 26th time.
Twenty-six times, including 20 in the last 22 years. That’s sustained excellence, something difficult to attain at a small school.
“We’ve had a lot of good kids,” he said. “And you know, it really comes down to talent.”
Mudd has had the advantage of seeing the seventh- and eighth-graders, encouraging them to run.
“That has helped a lot,” he said.
This year’s team has 20 girls (only five boys are on the roster). It’s not one of Mudd’s best teams — “a decent team,” he called it — but certainly solid enough to reach Fort Dodge.
The Lynx didn’t have a top-10 runner at the Wapello regional but still finished second behind Bellevue Marquette. No. 2 runner Brenna Winn probably will miss today’s competition with a stress fracture.
Zumbach had been a varsity runner for Mudd before injuring a knee last basketball season. Now she’s running mostly for rehab and to get in shape for basketball.
“He supports that. He understands that,” Zumbach said. “He’s always positive. Since I’ve been hurt, he’s always asking how I’m doing.”
Mudd was a runner at Ames High School and Wartburg College before taking the job at North Linn in 1975. He has coached stars like Jacinda Grishaber, Jessie Henderson and Ellen Ries. The Lynx won a state title in 1999 and finished second seven times.
“The championship was very exciting, and I’d like to have it happen again before I bite the dust,” he said.
There’s talent in the middle-school ranks again. But Mudd isn’t only after the elite runners.
“They don’t have to be talented,” he said. “It’s important for kids to have something to do, to be part of something.”
Fast or slow, Bob Mudd cares.