Longtime Middletown track and field coach Deb Petruzzello was selected the 2016 National Coach of the Year in the sport of Girls’ Track and Field. Petruzzello received the prestigious award Wednesday night during the National Coach of the Year Awards Banquet at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s convention.
The event took place at the Galt House in Louisville, KY.
“We are so excited and proud to have the National Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year on our coaching staff,” Middletown Director of Athletics Elisha De Jesus said. “I know I speak for the whole Athletic Department when I say that no one is more deserving of this great honor.”
Petruzzello, who was nominated for this national honor by Connecticut’s high school coaches’ association, celebrated in Louisville with her family, friends, and two captains from her 1982 state championship team at Woodrow Wilson High School, Traci Higgins and Cindy Krupa Smith.
Petruzzello’s selection was based on longevity, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years, and winning percentage. The finalists are evaluated by experts in the field of coaching using a sport-specific rubrics to assign points in each category.
Petruzzello ran track for Penn State University’s inaugural team from 1971-1975. After graduation, she returned to Middletown and started the girls track and field program at Woodrow Wilson in 1977. The two local high schools, Middletown and Wilson, merged in 1984 and Petruzzello just finished her 39th season as the school’s only girls outdoor track coach.
She has also been an assistant girls’ soccer coach and the head varsity cheerleading and Drill Team coach. She has officiated track events, hosted league and invitational meets, directed coaching clinics, served on CHSCA Executive Board and has been a member of the CHSCA for over 25 years.
Petruzzello, who has coached four undefeated track teams, has received numerous coaching awards and honors over the years. She was inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame last November. She was named the 2008 Girls’ Track and Field Coach of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.
In 2014, Petruzzello was inducted into the CHSCA Hall of Fame.
“The hard work and dedication displayed in her many years at MHS is just unfathomable,” De Jesus said. “Not only is she an unbelievable coach, but she is a one-of-a-kind individual always putting the student-athletes first no matter what capacity she is in. As the AD, I have been privileged to work with such a selfless human being. She has truly been a role model for all those she comes into contact with.”