Carbondale native Jim Cerra has had quite the run as head track coach at Vestal High School outside Binghamton, New York, crowning 11 state champions in the last half dozen years.
That success did not go unnoticed.
Cerra, who was a darned good running back and track performer at Carbondale Area High School in the mid 1970s, recently was notified he is the Northeast Section Girls outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year as selected by the National Federation of State High School coaches.
Only eight coaches nationwide received the award, which for Cerra’s area includes New York, New Jersey and the six New England states.
The award comes on the heels of Cerra winning the New York state Coach of the Year laurels for 2019. Over the past six seasons, Cerra’s athletes have won 11 individual state championships (think big school division in Pennsylvania), seven on the girls side, and six New York Federation titles, which includes all schools, including New York City.
“I’ve had a very good run,” said Cerra, 62, who is headed into his 40th season, the last 21 as head coach. “We’ve had very large numbers, like my girls team alone is usually in the 50 to 60 range of girls. Between the boys and girls we usually have about 100 to 120 kids. So it gives me a lot to choose from and the nice thing is that we’ve never had to make cuts and all of the athletes are able to compete.”
Some very good ones have been under Cerra’s tutelage, including Chris Coleman, who was the USA I 4-man bobsled brakeman for the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics.
“He was my first true stud,” Cerra said of the five-time NCAA track all-American.
With the regional honor came a chance to be named the national coach of the year. While he didn’t win that, the honor was more than Cerra thought possible.
“Just getting nominated for New York was great. I never thought I’d win that one,” Cerra said. “And, again, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought … because there’s just so many great coaches that I’ve met, because I’ve been to Penn Relays and a lot of the national meets, so I’ve met a lot of coaches from the northeast and they’ve all got quality programs. To kind of represent everything that I’ve done, and they’ve done, really is something.”
Marty Myers began his career as a sports writer at The Wayne Independent in Honesdale, where he served as sports editor and later managing editor. After 10 years there, he joined The Times-Tribune in 1994 and has spent the ensuing years reporting on high school sports, local and professional golf. An award-winning journalist, he also enjoys his duties as a copy editor for The Times-Tribune, editing stories and designing pages. A native of Williamsport, Marty resides in Clarks Summit. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9100 x5437 or @mmyersTT.