By BOB LEDDY
RI Track & Field Foundation
Longtime Barrington High throws coach Bob Gourley was honored last Sunday at the New Balance National Track Championships in New York by receiving the annual Doug Speck Award for Excellence and Innovation. "We recognize all the hard work and dedication you put in 'all things hammer' '' said award presenters.
"When I was notified by National Scholastics Foundation executive director Jim Spier about being awarded the prestigious Speck Award I was really overwhelmed,'' said Gourley. "Knowing the number of previous recipients and the respect I have for them I was really overwhelmed. It's exciting and very much appreciated.''
For decades, Coach Gourley has been the driving force behind guiding high school hammer and weight throwers. He has coached and influenced innumerable all-state athletes, and enjoys a reputation that extends to the national stage. His weight and hammer rankings - incepted in the mid-'80s - are used by national record-keepers as templates for progress in these events. He began coaching hammer at Barrington High in 1983.
As highly regarded as he is as a statistician, Gourley's accomplishments as a coach are every bit as impressive. He has piloted the prep careers of such national champions as Adam Kelly, Mike Alvernaz and most recently Bobby Colantonio, No.1 ranked in the 25-pound (11.36k) weight throw. Coach Gourley has organized numerous clinics for the weight and hammer. One such clinic featured world record-holder Yuri Sedykh of Russia.
In 2015, Coach Gourley was named R.I. Track Association Coach of the Year - a first for an assistant. A member of the R.I. Track Coaches Hall of Fame, Coach Gourley was inducted last year into the R.I. Interscholastic League's Athletic Hall of Fame.