By Chris Villani

Sports Reporter/Columnist

After a lengthy wait, Milford High head track and field coach Derek Rose finally received the 2020-2021 MIAA Coach of the Year award.

Rose won for last school year’s winter season, but the gathering at the Milford Doubletree was postponed until this past May.

“It was a real surprise back when I found out that I had won,” Rose said. “And it was definitely an honor.”

Over the past several years, Rose has led a Scarlet Hawks’ team that has seen an uptick in titles, with numerous athletes capturing league and state championships and even making some noise at the regional and national level. He credited the middle school program and other efforts to introduce young athletes to the sport for the program’s level of success.

“It’s been important to get kids into the sport and expose them to it,” he said. “You can have the talent in the building, but if you don’t give them the opportunity to participate in track, they won’t have any idea what it’s all about.”

Rose also noted the clinic that the team runs in the summer for grades three through eight, which allows elementary and middle school students the chance to get a taste of track and field and see some of the high school athletes perform.

“I think when you see someone else succeed you think, ‘wow, they can do it, maybe I can do it too,’” he said. “Even for other people on the high school team, when we have athletes like Kiyanni [Simas] or Kerry [O’Connor] or Emma Lawrence or Sarah Brogioli. You see them and say ‘this is how I should do it, this is how I should practice, this is how I should run my workouts.’”

The banquet itself gave Rose the chance to hear from some of the other award winning coaches, including three coaches who won National Coach of the Year in their respective sports.

“I think the best part was listening to their stories and how much of an impact they made and how much of an impact the kids have made on them,” he said. “There were some really touching stories. It just showed you how important high school athletics really are.”

While he did not give a speech, Rose said he had the chance to speak to some of his athletes.

“I thanked them for being on the team, being so great, working so hard,” he said, “and making me look good.”

Pictured is Derek Rose and his fiancé Liz Dennen at the banquet where Rose received the 2020-2021 MIAA Coach of the Year award. (Contributed photo)