GREAT FALLS — The Montana Coaches Association put on its 56th annual coaching clinic and held its award ceremony Thursday morning.
Awards were given out to coaches of the year in their respective sports, coaching longevity awards, and scholarships to incoming college freshmen. But the four special tributes were to those being inducted into the hall of fame.
Lon Carter has coached for over 60 years with 50 of them being at Helena Capital. He has coached basketball, football, track and field, and led the strength and conditioning program. In his 21 years and counting as the track coach, he has won 10 state trophies and just added another coach of the year award from this past season.
“It’s totally amazing. When you talk about this award, you’re talking about hundreds of coaches that I’ve had the great honor to work with,” said Carter. “I’m getting the award but all those hundreds of coaches put their effort into what we got done.
“I am very humbled by the fact that I get to take this award back to the coaches that we have at Capital High School.”
Ed McNamee has spent the last 20 years being the head swimming coach for both Great Falls High and CMR. In his time with those teams he has won 28 state trophies and been named a finalist for the NHSACA national swimming coach of the year on three separate occasions.
McNamee said he was “nervous” prior to being inducted into the hall of fame because during swim meets the attention is on the kids, but this was his moment and now he is in the spotlight. With his induction, there was one word that he could use to explain his feelings.
“Overwhelming. You start looking at the names that you’re going to be placed with and its a little bit intimidating on some levels because they are a lot of people I’ve looked up to, that I had the pleasure of being coached by, or coaching along side,” said McNamee. “To be in that the of circle is truly amazing.”
Steve Komac has been in the game for 29 years after getting his start in Browning before moving to Great Falls High. He led the Bison to three state wrestling championships and coached 39 individual state champions. The last four years he has been with the University of Providence where he has already made his mark in.
With all the success he has seen so far, he only takes credit for a small chunk of it and gives the majority to the coaches who paved the way for him.
“All the coaches that I really looked upon to and respected, those were mentors for me,” said Komac. “A lot of them that were doing things right and working really hard were landing here. They definitely set an example for me and I kind of followed in their footsteps as far as what it takes to be successful. Just by following those people is kind of what landed me here in this position.”
The last but not least addition to the MCA hall of fame is 27-year Whitefish coach Derek Schulz. Schulz led the Bulldogs' track teams to a combined nine state titles and was named the NHSACA national boys track and field coach of the year in 2017. Shchulz retired after winning the state title with his girls team in 2019.
“I just love track and field so much and the coaches association has helped me along the way. I’ve met so many people here so it’s a little bit bittersweet. I feel like there’s a lot of people deserving of things like this and I don’t know if I’m one of them or not but it’s a pleasure to be here.”