July 25, 2012
NEW ORLEANS, La. -
University of Alabama track and field assistant coach Dick Booth has been named to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame in recognition of a career that has spanned nearly 40 years and produced countless honors and accomplishments. Booth and the other five members of the 2012 Hall of Fame class will be enshrined during the organization’s annual convention in December.
“An honor like this doesn’t sink in for a while,” Booth said. “But I’ve been extremely blessed in my career to work with tremendous athletes that possess great work ethic. That’s what my career has been, coaching great athletes who are willing to work hard. I’ve always aimed to build a culture where athletes are willing to work hard, whether it be at Alabama or during my time at Arkansas and Florida. You obviously can’t coach talent, but it’s a nice combination when you have exceptional talent and exceptional work ethic. That makes coaches look good.”
Booth has coached 49 individual NCAA Champions and 153 All-Americans during his illustrious career while earning a reputation as one of the top jumps coaches in the world.
He recently wrapped up his first season on the staff at the University of Alabama and coached three student-athletes to All-America honors and an NCAA Indoor Championships runner-up performance. Before joining Alabama, Booth had two successful years at Florida where his pupils helped the Gators to two NCAA indoor team titles and prior to that, spent 27 years at the University of Arkansas where he helped the Razorbacks become the NCAA’s winningest men’s program.
Booth started his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Arkansas in 1978 and was there for six years before venturing to Louisiana-Lafayette for his lone head-coaching position in 1985.
During his four-year tenure at ULL, he guided high jumper Hollis Conway to two NCAA titles and spectacular heights that included the current indoor and outdoor collegiate records of over 7-9. Conway went on to win a silver medal in the high jump at the 1988 Olympics and a bronze medal in 1992, becoming one of two Americans to medal twice in the event.
Booth then returned to Arkansas where he would stay for another 21 years. During his second stint at Arkansas, the Razorbacks captured 14 NCAA indoor track & field titles, adding a string of eight consecutive outdoor championships between 1992 and 1999 and another championship streak from 2003 to 2006.
Booth coached 11 Olympians, 45 individual national champions, and 137 athletes who gained All-America honors while at Arkansas. His list of former athletes includes icons such as Mike Conley, Erick Walder, Robert Howard, Edrick Floreal, Brian Wellman, Jerome Romain, Ray Doakes, Matt Hemingway, Melvin Lister and Kenny Evans.
A two-time Olympic medalist, Conley won the gold medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympic Games with the third-longest, wind-aided jump in history.
While at Florida in 2011, Booth guided Christian Taylor and Will Claye to first- and second-place triple jump finishes at both the NCAA Championships and U.S. Championships. The NCAA title was Taylor's second-straight outdoor championship and third overall under Booth. Claye was also named the USTFCCCA’s National Field Athlete of the Year during the outdoor season as he added a runner-up showing in the long jump at the NCAA outdoor meet.
A native of Blue Mound, Kan., Booth competed collegiately as a quartermiler at Ottawa University. He began his coaching career in the Kansas high school ranks with positions at Wellington, Fort Scott, and Shawnee Mission South High Schools. He gained a reputation as one of the premier prep field events coaches in the country while working with four state record holders in seven seasons at Shawnee Mission South.
He earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Ottawa in 1966 and a master's degree in physical education from Kansas State in 1970.
Booth and his wife, Merry Lee, have a son, Marc, and a daughter, Reagan Russell. The family has a proud athletic tradition as Marc was a punter for Arkansas' football team, while Reagan was a member of the women's track and field team at Louisiana-Lafayette. Booth also has six grandchildren.
Booth is joined in the Hall of Fame Class by Dick Hill, Oregon head coach Vin Lananna, former Clemson head coach Bob Pollock, former Emporia State head coach Fran Welch, and Wisconson-Oshkosh head coach John Zupanc.