May 272011

By Sam Conner–

Winslow High School will have a new cross country coach next season as Annie Watson replaces Sal Hernandez, who will become an assistant principal at the institution.

Watson is married to Lawrence Watson, the WHS wrestling coach and a graduate of the school. She is a graduate of Flagstaff High School, where she ran on state champion cross country teams all four of her years there. She was the individual cross country champion for the state of Arizona in 2003, her junior year in high school. She was a member of the 4×800 state champion relay team all four years in high school. She ran the 800 meters, 1600 meters and two-mile races, as well as the 4×800 meter relay at FHS.

After graduation from high school, Watson attended Mississippi State University in Starkville and had a highly successful collegiate career there in cross country under legendary Coach Al Schmidt. Schmidt is expected to retire soon, possibly even this year, after more than 20 years of college coaching, during which he had an impressive list of national champions.

Watson was an Academic All American at Mississippi State, and was the cross country and track team captain in 2008-09, her senior year. She was an All South Region athlete in cross country while running for the Bulldogs.

“I loved Mississippi,” Watson said, adding that she went to almost every football and basketball game possible while at Starkville. She said that Mississippi State was a great school in which to be an athlete and that it had excellent coaches in every sport.

Ron Polk, who was a highly successful baseball coach before his retirement also had an Arizona connection having played and graduated from Grand Canyon College, now Grand Canyon University.

Annie Watson’s mother is Sharon Fallor, a former WHS English teacher and softball coach. She coached the Lady Bulldogs softball team for six years, and had some notable and highly successful teams. She is currently an assistant principal at FHS. Annie noted that her mother was able to travel to many of her meets while she was competing for Mississippi State, but was glad to see her return to Arizona.

Annie Watson earned her master’s degree at Northern Arizona University and became reacquainted with, dated and eventually married Lawrence Watson, whom she had known as a child. She said that she is happy to be back in Arizona and at WHS. She is teaching sophomore English at the school and coached distance runners this past year.

She noted that she enjoys teaching and coaching, and believes that both should be fun for the students and athletes, as well as the teachers and coaches. She said that she intends to make cross country workouts as much fun as possible by turning them into games, such as scavenger hunts and other things that are more fun than just running.

Watson stated that one of the first things she intends to do to prepare athletes for next season is to have the track open from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 2 until August 4. Athletes who wish to run will be welcomed to come and work out there during the summer.

She said that she plans to eventually return to college, probably Northern Arizona University, to study administration and follow in her mother’s footsteps. She said, though, that she enjoys teaching and coaching, and wants to continue classroom teaching and coaching for at least about 16 more years.