By Nathan Brown
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — He helped Anderson senior Jalin Beard make his way to the Indiana boys track and field state finals this season, and his son coached Pendleton Heights junior KIawna Cottrell to the girls track and field state finals this season, where she medaled in her first state appearance.
But sadly, William Patrick Coggins watched his final track meet ever this spring. The Anderson track and field coach passed away Sunday at his home.
Coggins’s death was a shock across the local track and field community. Fellow Anderson track and field coach Cary House, who Beard worked closely with this season while he made his state run, said he got the news late Sunday evening and still was trying to come to terms with the news.
“He’s going to be tough to replace,” House said. “He just had a lot of positive energy. He’s been in track and field his entire life. The man has forgotten more about track and field than I’ll ever know, and those kinds of guys are just hard to replace, and he’s certainly going to be missed.”
Beard, who made his way to the state finals this year after sitting out of track and field his junior year, said his work with Coggins during his freshman season gave him the discipline necessary to qualify for the state meet earlier this month.
“He pushed me a lot in track when I didn’t wanna run that much,” Beard said. “He pushed me to go harder and helped me every year in track. He always made me feel good about myself.”
The news and the grief extended beyond Anderson, though.
Pendleton Heights girls track and field coach Melissa Hagerman said she met Coggins while working a part-time summer job. She knocked on his door one day and started a short conversation, and she said he already knew all about her family and her son and really impressed her.
Hagerman said she got the news Sunday from an email from Coggins’ son and Pendleton Heights track and field assistant coach, Bill Coggins, and the news brought tears to her eyes.
In hearing the news, she made certain to text Cottrell and made sure she knew how special qualifying for the state meet and medaling in the 400 meters was to Bill and his dad. Watching and coaching their runners to success was a great experience for the father and son, Hagerman said.
“I told her ‘You made something really special for Bill and his dad, something that they got to share’ cause his son coached Kiawna and got her to state, and I know he’s super proud of him for that,” Hagerman said.