Nicaraguan House of Hope -- Photo Ministry

MaryJo McCloskey was named the Northwest Conference 2011 Women’s Golf Coach of the Year after guiding her team to a second straight conference championship. The Bruins have put together four straight winning seasons and have competed in the national championship tournament two years in a row. That’s a pretty good start for a program that’s only five years old.

“It’s been a great journey so far, and we have certainly become the team to beat in the Northwest Conference,” McCloskey said. “Now we want to take it a step further and become the team to beat in the nation.”

McCloskey’s team has risen to each new challenge while beating top-ranked schools, including Amherst and St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind.

“It’s been a total team effort, and I’m extremely proud of all that we have accomplished in a short amount of time,” McCloskey said. “We are blessed at George Fox to have such great support and a community that cares about our student-athletes. We plan on continuing our exciting journey.”

Go online: Follow the Bruin golfers each season at bit.ly/kLQeJ3 or visit their Facebook page at on.fb.me/lq91uc

John Smith, now in his fifth year as the head coach of the track and field team, has once again received top coaching honors. Smith earned the Northwest Conference Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year honor for the second straight year.

“It’s a team accomplishment,” Smith quickly pointed out, giving most of the credit to his athletes and assistant coaches.

After graduating from George Fox in 1996, Smith continued to compete as a decathlete, but a cycling accident derailed his athletic career. He finished his masters in exercise sports science and came back to his alma mater as an assistant coach.

“I’ve always enjoyed coaching people and helping them achieve their goals,” Smith said. “You’re out of the classroom setting, and you’re with the students a lot. You can go a bit deeper with the relationships.”

Smith said the most rewarding part of his job are the Bible studies he has with his athletes. “The relationship with Jesus is the most important thing I can strengthen in them,” he said. “That’s hands down the coolest part of the job.”

Go online: follow our track and field team by visiting bit.ly/jQlOfE