The award goes to one individual, but this year's winner says it's really about a group effort.
"I take this more as a reflection on the boys than on me," said Scappoose's Kevin Pinkstaff, who was voted by his peers as Northwest Oregon Conference boys cross country coach of the year.
"The boys put in a lot of work since last season, and the addition of Gage Ekstrom strengthened them even further," Pinkstaff said of a squad that finished second to Wilsonville at the NWOC district meet. "It's such a pleasure to coach a group of guys that so bought into each other and to their team girls."
Pinkstaff's honor makes it two years in a row that a Columbia County coach has been recognized — Naomi Ready of St. Helens was the NWOC girls cross country coach of the year in 2018.
"It was well-deserved, and Naomi might deserve it even more this year, coaching with a newborn and a toddler to take care of," Pinkstaff said.
This year's girls coach of the year was Andrew Sneed, who guided Putnam to second in the league.
A big highlight for the Scappoose boys — who will run Saturday in the Class 5A championships in Eugene — was claiming the NWOC dual meet title.
"The guys are rightfully proud of that," Pinkstaff said. "It's the first trophy they/we can place in the trophy case on the guys' side since 2012."
Pinkstaff is completing his second year as head coach of Scappoose cross country; he also is in charge of the girls team.
He has been with the program since becoming an assistant under David Harley in 2011. And he started coaching at Scappoose as a student teacher in science, working under Harley in the classroom as well.
"I asked if he needed a volunteer assistant, and it went from there," Pinkstaff said. "I've learned so much from him, as well as from my dad, about coaching, and I see how respected he (Harley) is as a coach, and it's been important to me to continue the strength of the program he's run for so long."
Pinkstaff grew up in Rainier, where his father, Brad, coached cross country and track and field for about 30 years.
"So I've kind of grown up around it," Pinkstaff said. "My parents run just about every day. I'd ride my bike with them as a kid, and hang around while they raced weekend 5Ks. Every day after school as a kid, I'd go hang out at cross-country or track practice. My dad coached youth programs for both sports, so I'd participate there, too."
Pinkstaff competed in track in middle school, and ran both track and cross country at Rainier High, graduating in 2003, and then attending Portland State.
"It was a cool experience to be coached by my dad," he said. "I've got great memories of practices, races, our team camps, and my teammates, who I'm still friends with.
"When I decided I wanted to be a teacher, it seemed a natural fit to be a coach as well. Maybe that's because it was the model my dad set for me."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.