Bigfork High School’s Sue Loeffler and Flathead’s Jeff Anderson have been named coach of the year finalists by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
Loeffler is one of eight finalists for Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year following a 2018 season in which the Valkyries won a second consecutive Class B state championship. She has been coaching at Bigfork for 44 years and has won 10 combined state championships with the Bigfork cross country and track programs in her career. Loeffler retired as a teacher and as cross country coach last year, but will begin her 45th year with the Vikings and Valkyries track and field teams this spring. Loeffler was named the Montana Coaches Association’s (MCA) Class B Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year in 2018.
A former collegiate national champion as a sprinter at Flathead Valley Community College, Loeffler arrived in Bigfork in 1974 not long after graduating from Montana State University. Were she to be named the national coach of the year, she would become only the seventh coach from the Flathead Valley, and first woman, to be so honored since 1978. Loeffler would also become the first Bigfork coach to win the award.
Anderson spent decades involved with the Flathead wrestling program before his retirement in 2018, including a stint as the program’s head coach in the 1990s. He has been chosen as a finalist for Boys Assistant Coach of the Year, a non-sport specific honor. Anderson is a Flathead alum and former undefeated state champion, and has spent years as an assistant under Jeff Thompson, the current Braves head coach. Anderson was named the National Assistant Coach of the Year by Wrestling USA magazine in 2006 and the MCA Boys Assistant Coach of the Year in 2018.
The national award winners will be announced at the NHSACA’s national convention, June 22-27 in Bismarck, North Dakota. Past recipients of the national honor include Whitefish’s Derek Schulz (boys track and field, 2017) and Terry Nelson (golf, 2006); and Flathead coaches Bob Raeth (boys assistant, 2018), Dan Hodge (boys track and field, 2013), Paul Jorgenson (girls cross country, 2010; boys cross country, 2008) and Joe McKay (girls track and field, 2000).