Women’s track and field coaches from the Southern States Athletics Conference named Brenau University’s Richard Ludwig the Southern States Athletics Conference “Coach of the Year” after he guided the Golden Tigers first-year track and field team to a decisive conference championship.
The conference, part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, announced the honor here during the annual SSAC Spring Awards ceremony.
Although the 2012-13 season was Ludwig’s first at Brenau, he is no novice to the sport. He started his coaching career as an assistant for the University of Georgia men’s team, which he had previously captained under legendary track coach Spec Towns as a four-year standout in the long jump and triple jump. During his two years as an assistant to Towns’ successor Lewis Gainey, the Bulldogs won two back-to-back Southeastern Conference championships.
Ludwig, who was a horticulturalist and educator by profession before his “retirement” in 2011, never left coaching. He piloted or assisted through the years with high school and club teams. That put him in good stead, said Brenau Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor for quickly recruiting and developing a highly competitive team at Brenau, built mostly around versatile, athletic freshmen and transfer students, in a very short time.
“Rick Ludwig not only can spot good talent,’ said Lochstampfor. ‘He also can spot talents the athletes themselves did not know they had.”
Indeed, several of the Tigers either won or placed highly in SSAC championship meet events in which they had never participated prior to Ludwig’s nudging them into it. As a result, the Golden Tigers dominated the April 26-27 meet, scoring 352.5 points – more than three times the 113 total scored by runner-up William Carey University of Hattiesburg, Miss.
Ludwig, a widely-published and nationally televised horticulturist for a decade, and professor at Gwinnett Technical College from 1985-2010, coached the Lanier Lightning and Lanier Running Club Junior Olympics. He was a volunteer coach at Brenau’s Georgia hometown Gainesville High School and coached at North Hall High School in Gainesville in the 1980s.
At Brenau, he said, he was able to pull together “a young, feisty team,” which he credits for the Golden Tigers’ success.
“These young Brenau women proved to be fierce competitors,” said Ludwig. “They scare me a little bit. They hate to lose.”