Former South Girard basketball player and Portland Trail Blazer Claude English has been named the American Midwest Conference Athletic Director of the Year for his efforts at Park University in Parkville, Mo. The accolade comes in English’s 22nd year as athletic director.
“It is an absolute honor to be recognized by your peers, and to be honest, I’m overwhelmed,” English said. “Anytime you’re recognized with an award like this, though, it goes back to your staff and your student-athletes. I always say we have the best coaching staff any AD could ask for, and things like this prove it. This is their award. I’m proud of the year we had at Park.”
During the 2016-2017 school year, Park University participated in eight of the possible 15 NAIA National Championship events. The athletic program took fourth in the conference’s President’s Cup, improving 10 spots from 2015-2016.
Park has captured 68 conference championships during English’s tenure as athletic director. Over that span of time, more than 150 student-athletes earned All-American status, and nearly 350 student-athletes were chosen as Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
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The Pirates have also won five NAIA men’s volleyball tournament championships, six individual track and field championships and one NAIA women’s volleyball national championship during that time.
After winning the 1966 Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA state title at South Girard, English played collegiately at Christian College of the Southwest and Rhode Island. He was drafted by the Trail Blazers in the seventh round of the 1970 NBA Draft and played one season with the team.
English returned to Rhode Island as an assistant basketball coach shortly after his NBA career ended and served as the head coach of his alma mater from 1980 to 1984. He became Park’s men’s basketball coach in 1992 and maintained that role through the 2005 season. Between his two head coaching stints, he racked up more than 200 career victories.
English is a member of two Halls of Fame: The John McLendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame and the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame. English was elected to the local Hall of Fame in 2011.
“I’m just a coach who coaches the coaches,” English told the Ledger-Enquirer in 2011. “That’s the way I always see my job. I want to motivate other people the way I’m motivated.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports