High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year

The High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year Award is awarded to a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS) who has demonstrated excellence the field of high school strength and conditioning.

Congratulations to the 2021 winner!

Sam Melendrez, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D

Sam Melendrez is in his 13th year as the full-time strength and conditioning coach at Discovery Canyon Campus High School in Colorado Springs, CO where he oversees the training of student-athletes from all sports in strength & conditioning classes during the day and in before and after school programs. Prior to making the decision to work in the high school setting Sam did internships at the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid, was an assistant at the United States Air Force Academy and a graduate assistant at the University of New Mexico. Sam truly loves working with his athletes at Discovery Canyon, and sees his role as great opportunity to develop not only better athletes but better people. He and his wife Joni, have been happily married for 13 years and have two sons, Sammy 10 and Zachary 7.

View Press Release

Award Eligibility

Current NSCA Member
Current CSCS Certification
Not a previous recipient
Cover letter, Resume or CV

Additional requirements listed in the General Awards Criteria, include but not limited to, the nominee must be nominated by a member in good standing and nominees will be sent a criteria sheet to fill out that must be returned before the required deadline. 

Past Award Recipients Include:

2018 - James McFarland Jr, MEd, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D Haff and McFarland 
2017 - Ryan Johnson, MEd, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D  Haff and Johnson
2016 - Micah Kurtz, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D  Haff and Kurtz
2015 - Fred Eaves, MEd, CSCS, RSCC  Eaves
2014 - Darnell Clark, MPE, CSCS, RSCC*D  Fleck and Clark
2013 - Mike Duehring, MS, CSCS, RSCC,*D, USAW  
2012 - Gary E. Schofield Jr, CSCS,*D  
2010 - Scott J. Sahli, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2009 - Adam Beard, CSCS  
2008 - Charles R. Wells, MS, CSCS,*D  
2007 - Kevin Vanderbush, MS, CSCS  
2006 - Ian Jeffreys, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT  
2005 - Patrick McHenry, MA, CSCS,*D, RSCC  
2004 - Bruce Harbach, CSCS,*D  
2003 - Larry Meadors, PhD, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2002 - Rosalin Hanna, CSCS,*D  
2001 - Stephen Nunnink  
2000 - Patrick Mediate  
1999 - Bud Bjornaraa  
1998 - Robbie Robinson  
1997 - Ron Thomson  
1996 - Mike Nitka  
1995 - Steve Kenyon  
1994 - Edwin Jones  
1993 - Dan Burk  
1992 - Mike Burgener  
1991 - John Waters  

How is the recipient selected?


  • Improve Awareness and Engagement within HS Coaching Community
  • Better align award requirements with HS Coach duties and responsibilities
  • Increase nomination activity

Revise points structure and to funnel top three point receiving candidates for vote by the Coaching (RSCC) Taskforce and HS SIG Leadership, overseen annually by the Coaching Program Manager.


  1. The NSCA will market and solicit nominees from NSCA membership.
  2. Additional award nominees may be recommended by the NSCA Coaching Program Manager based on recommendations by SPD, SIG, and other NSCA Volunteer Program Leaders.
  3. Nominees must meet the General Award Criteria requirements.
  4. Nominees must meet the Eligibility Requirements stated in the Criteria Sheet of the award to be considered.
  5. The nominee shall provide the completed criteria sheet, cover letter, resume or CV, and supporting documentation of involvement, activities and awards to the NSCA National Headquarters by the requested deadline.

Selection Process

  1. The process for selection shall be as follows:
    • Nominations must be received before the established deadline.
    • NSCA Headquarters will verify eligibility requirements and overall points for nominees have been met.
    • Qualified nominees will be notified.
      • If there are no qualifying nominees, the award will not be given.
    • Top three nominees based on points for each award will be sent to the Coaching (RSCC) Task Force and HS SIG Executive Council.
    • The Coaching (RSCC) Task Force and HS SIG Executive Council will vote for the winner.
    • The Coaching (RSCC) Task Force and HS SIG Executive Council:
      • The Coaching (RSCC) Task Force will be volunteers selected yearly by the Coaching Program Manager.
      • It will be apparent that the Task Force is impartial to the nominees.
      • The Coaching (RSCC) Task Force will be comprised of >50% non-coaching award recipients and <50% past coaching award recipients.
      • The Coaching (RSCC) Task Force will not notify the selected recipients.
      • The Coaching Program Manager will notify the Awards and Honors Committee Chair of the winners.
  2. The Awards and Honors Committee Chair will:
    • Notify the Board of Directors of the recipient.
  3. The NSCA Headquarters will:
    • Submit the recipient’s name to the Awards and Honors Committee for approval.
    • The approved recipient will be sent to the Board of Directors
    • Notify the recipients of the award.
    • Send regret notifications.
    • Create a Press Release announcement of the winners.
    • Will verify attendance at the Coaches Conference Opening Ceremony or the National Conference Awards Banquet.
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