The coaching power of running

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UVU cross-country coach is happy with career achievements
Jessica Allen | Assistant Sports Editor | @Jessdaleallen

Coming from a town of less than 2,000 people, UVU cross-country head coach Scott Houle had a lot of opportunities to play many different sports in high school. He attended a school that was so small the students were allowed to play on multiple different teams just to ensure the teams were big enough to actually qualify as a team. Houle spent his high school days participating in football, basketball, tennis and track. However, when it came to picking a sport to dedicate his career to, it was always running.DSC_8599bw

“I really liked the cross country side a little bit more–just the nature of the sport, you’re outside all the time, you’re in the mountains running. I really gravitated to the cross country/track and field side,” Houle said. “In cross country/track and field everything has to be prepared during practice. Once the race starts there are no adjustments. It’s a pretty fun sport; you can never get bored. If you get bored you’re not coaching right.”

Most of Houle’s brothers have chosen the career path of being a coach. His brother Mark is the head cross-country coach in Minnesota; brother Eric is the head cross-country coach for Southern Utah University and brother Dave is a retired coach with 68 state championships, seven National Championships and is a member of the National High School Hall of Fame. His nephew is the head cross country coach at Idaho State and his niece is an assistant at Eastern Washington.

Education is very important to Coach Houle. He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and special education, as well as his master’s degree in education administration that he received from BYU.

“I was diagnosed as a Special Education student in first grade,” Houle said. “Growing up there was always learning challenges…I always knew I was going to be a teacher so as I went into college I gravitated toward that because I wanted to help people like me. UVU does not have that degree. That would be one thing I’d love to see our university pick up.”

Houle has been recognized for his efforts by his peers by being named both the men’s and women’s Independent (4), Great West (21) and Western Athletic (4) Conference cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field Coach of the Year 29 times. He has had 20 athletes named to the NCAA All-American Academic Team (9 men, 11 women).

“One of those awards that is fun to receive but it’s a collective award,” Houle said. “It’s great to have the schools we’ve competed against to really recognize how successful athletes are and also my assistant coaches who have really helped pull the weight of this program forward. It’s been quite an honor to have our program recognized.”DSC_8568

Houle has led the UVU cross-country team for 12 seasons. His most recent success includes back-to-back WAC Championships in 2013 and 2014. During a span of five years in the Great West Conference, Houle guided the Wolverines to 21 of a possible 30 conference titles. He has helped produce 25 track & field NCAA qualifiers. He has also led the cross-country teams to the NCAA Mountain Regional every season since 2009.

“I would honestly have to say one of my biggest achievements to be able to receive is to be the coach at UVU,” Houle said. “I’ve always really watched this program and always said I’d really like to be the coach here. Being able to come here to coach and help this program to grow is one of my biggest achievements.”