Karr’s Tonya Allen named coach of the year

Karr’s Tonya Allen named state track and field coach of the year
Posted on 01/21/2020

[New Orleans] — The National Federation of State High School Associations selected Edna Karr’s Tonya Allen as the 2018-2019 Louisiana Girls Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year.

The recognition comes after Allen’s team ended last season with their fifth consecutive state championship title.

“I had no clue until I received the letter that I was even nominated,” Allen said. “I had actually set the letter aside. Later when I realized what it meant, I got excited and I started crying. I never expected it. I was more shocked than anything.”

While the recognition might have caught Allen off-guard, others at InspireNOLA weren’t as surprised.

“Tonya Allen is an exceptional coach and leader to her athletes and all Karr students, both on and off the field,” said InspireNOLA CEO Jamar McKneely. “No one deserves this honor more.”

InspireNOLA Athletic Director Harold Juluke agreed.

“Coach Allen winning this award is phenomenal; she’s phenomenal,” he said. “She goes above and beyond to help shape the lives of her student athletes. We are proud of her success and the success of her team.”

Allen was specifically nominated for the honor by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.

 “This year's honorees were selected based upon their coaching performance in the 2018-19 school year, lifetime community involvement, school involvement and philosophy of coaching,” wrote Dr. Karissa Neihoff, executive director of the Federation, in a letter to the school. “Member state associations recognize those who are leading their sport, shaping their athletes, and contributing to their community.”

Karr track and field team members Alacia Myles and Del’je Keller both said that one of Allen’s biggest strengths is she makes sure the team is taken care of.

“I’m not surprised she won this award. She’s very intelligent, and she works hard at getting everything situated and drives us to do our best. She’s great,” said Myles, a senior who’s been on the team since her freshman year. Myles is currently ranked number 1 in the state for high jump and the number 2 hurdler. 

Keller, who is a junior, said that Allen is great at mentoring them on and off the track

“She motivates me by saying I can do it, even if I don’t believe it,” Keller said.

Allen has been coaching high school track since 1996. She’s been coaching at Karr since 2006, and has been head coach since 2013. Several of her athletes have gone on to compete at the collegiate level. 

She also serves as the co-athletic director at Karr. 

“Athletics in general at Karr are phenomenal. We have kids that really don’t know the talent they have. We push them to discover that talent,” she said. “It’s all about the discipline and dedication.”

Allen gives her fellow coaches credit as well.

“Across the board, we have great coaches and we all collaborate as a staff and work hand-in-hand to train our student athletes,” she said.

Though the 2019-20 season track season is just starting, the team is ready to go. 

“Our returning athletes have taken it upon themselves to continue training and conditioning all year,” Allen said. “They are dedicated to their sport and are ready for their first meet. We practice rain or shine, hot or cold.”

The first indoor meet of the season will take place at McNeese State University on Saturday. They will participate in three meets over the next few weeks in an effort to get to the state indoor track and field championship on Feb. 22.

Allen’s son said it best when he told her, “Let’s go get number 6!” 

InspireNOLA Charter Schools operates a network of seven public charter schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 2013, InspireNOLA is currently the highest performing open-admission charter management organization in New Orleans and is the only network with one A-graded school and two B-graded schools. InspireNOLA currently serves more than 5,000 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade. 
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