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Mr. Dick Booth
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Head Track Coach at UL, 1984-88.
2010-2011 Assistant Track Coach, University of Florida
In his 22nd season and his 23rd year as an assistant at the University of Arkansas over two different coaching stints, Dick Booth helped head coach John McDonnell jump-start the nationï¿½s top program by consistently producing the nationï¿½s finest jumpers and other field event athletes.
Booth has built and maintained one of the top field programs in the country, which has helped the Razorbacks win many of their numerous national championships and led to Olympic glory for several of his top athletes.
Booth has been with McDonnell for 22 years, first from 1978-83 and since 1988 in his most recent stint.
The former head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette knows what it takes to win a national title and he knows how to produce All-America and national champion-caliber athletes. Heï¿½s recruited, developed and worked with top talent at Arkansas, which has helped Booth build a collection of national championship rings that only McDonnell can rival.
McDonnell laid the foundation for UAï¿½s success, and a key piece to that foundation was the addition of Booth, who took charge of the field events in 1978.
Not only has Booth done an incredible job in recruiting outstanding high school talent, but he has turned them into incredible collegiate performers. His athletes are all over the schoolï¿½s record book. He has coached or recruited every UA school record holder in field events.
It all started when Booth and McDonnell convinced Mike Conley to come to Arkansas from Chicago. Under Boothï¿½s watchful eye, Conley helped lead the Hogs to their first ever top 10 finishes at the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
With aspirations of being a head coach, Booth then left for ULL to take over the Rajun Cajun program. While Booth was away, Conley led the Razorbacks to their first national title at the 1984 indoor meet.
After producing four successful seasons, two national champions, five All-Americans and 19 school record holders at ULL, Booth returned to Fayetteville following the 1988 campaign, again as field events coach.
Booth and McDonnell formed a wonderful team their first time together. During this second stretch, theyï¿½ve been remarkable.
In fact, the first three years Booth was back, Arkansas won the NCAA indoor crown and in the fourth year, the Hogs began a remarkable run of three consecutive national triple crowns.
Since Boothï¿½s return, Arkansas has won 12 NCAA indoor track titles in 15 tries with eight consecutive NCAA outdoor track championships between 1992 and 1999. Thus, in his entire 22-year tenure, Arkansas is averaging over one national championship per year. No coach, other than McDonnell, in the history of collegiate athletics can make such a claim.
While team success always comes first, the accomplishments of the athletes Booth has coached individually are stunning. During his time at Arkansas, he has worked with 38 national champions, 121 All-Americans and 10 Olympians.
The jumpers heï¿½s worked with could compile a Whoï¿½s Who list of collegiate track. Theyï¿½ve included Conley, Erick Walder, Robert Howard, Edrick Floreal, Brian Wellman, Jerome Romain, Ray Doakes, Matt Hemingway, Melvin Lister and Kenny Evans.
Heï¿½s also coached pole vaulter Mark Klee and shot put-discus standouts Marty Kobza and Scott Lofquist, among others. At ULL he has standouts Hollis Conway and Neil Guidry.
The international success of Boothï¿½s pupils gave him an inside track for the U.S. Olympic coaching position but prior to the Sydney Games, Booth was no stranger to the Olympic Games.
At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, Boothï¿½s most successful jumper, Conley, captured a gold medal in the triple jump with the second longest wind-aided distance in the history of the event. Conley had previously won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics.
Conway, the American indoor record holder in the high jump, earned a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics and a bronze at the 1992 games.
In 1995, Wellman won the World Indoor triple jump and finished second at the World Outdoor Championships. Romain was third at the World Outdoors.
At the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games at Atlanta, the triple jump finals were loaded with ex-Razorbacks who had been coached by Booth, including Conley, Howard, Wellman and Romain.
Booth has developed many jumpers into Olympic caliber athletes and has seen his fair share of talent come through the door of the Arkansas track and field program.
His efforts in the collegiate ranks paid off when he was selected by his peers to serve as the jumps coach for the United States Track and Field team that competed at the Sydney games.
As the coach for the Olympic team, Boothï¿½s responsibilities were similar to his Razorback duties as he oversaw the long jumpers, high jumpers, triple jumpers and pole vaulters.
Luckily for Booth, familiar faces made the squad as he once again has the opportunity to coach high jumper Kenny Evans, a member of the 2001 Razorback squad, triple jumpers Robert Howard and long jumper Melvin Lister. Other Booth products in the Olympics included former Olympians Romain and Wellman.
Even though none of the Razorback jumpers medaled in the 2000 Olympic Games, the experience speaks volumes for how Boothï¿½s peers feel about him. The coaches for the Olympic Games are selected by a committee of athletes and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
A superb technician, Booth believes in establishing a close bond with his athletes and believes positive reinforcement is the most important aspect of successful coaching. He stresses the importance of the athlete understanding his event and the training he needs to reach the highest level of his potential.
A native of Blue Mound, Kansas, Booth was a standout quarter miler at Ottawa University. He began his coaching career at Wellington (Kan.) High School, then moved to Fort Scott (Kan.) High School and Shawnee Mission South. He gained a reputation as one of the premier prep field events coach in the country while working with four state record holders in seven seasons at Shawnee Mission South.
He earned his bachelorï¿½s degree in physical education from Ottawa in 1966 and a masterï¿½s degree in physical education from Kansas State in 1970.
He and his wife, Merry Lee, have a son, Marc, and a daughter, Reagan Russell. Marc was a punter for the Razorback football team and Reagan was a member of the womenï¿½s track team at ULL. They also have six grandchildren