The 1986 Aztec High School graduate was named the National Collegiate Pole Vault Coach of the Year by USA Track and Field at the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev., on Jan. 18.
“It’s a really high honor and one of the highlights of my career,” Steffan said. “It was a big gathering — all the Olympians and national champions were there. It totally caught me off guard. All of the pole vault coaches are friends, so to be recognized in front of them and to get some high fives was pretty cool.”
Steffan, an assistant coach at the Air Force Academy, also earned the Mountain Region Outdoor Men’s Field Event Coach of the Year award from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in 2012.
Steffan’s pole vaulters took five of the top eight places during the Mountain West Conference indoor championships and six of the top eight places in the MWC outdoor championship, helping the Falcons claim their first-ever conference team track and field title during the 2012 season.
“This is richly deserved,” Air Force head coach Ralph Lindeman said about Steffan in a statement released by the Falcons’ athletic department. “What I find even more important than the achievement of his vaulters is how much he cares for our cadet-athletes, their education and careers. His enthusiasm and energy impact our entire program.
Since his hiring by Air Force in 2008, Steffan has coached 17 all-conference selections, six All-Americans and four conference champions.
Steffan gave a lot of credit for the award to the athletes he coaches.
“A great deal goes to the guys,” Steffan said. “We’ve got incredible athletes here. For the athletes, practice is a bit of an oasis from the military lifestyle. We joke around, but we do work hard. That’s why we pole vault — it’s a blast. I’m lucky to be where I’m at. They work hard for me.”
The Falcon pole vaulters appear poised to duplicate their 2012 success this season under Steffan with Air Force topping the MWC in the event.
“Right now, I have the top five on the men’s side, and three have jumped 17 feet,” Steffan said.
With all his success, Steffan feels at home at the Academy and is thankful for everyone who has been there for him along the way.
“It’s the highest honor I’ve gotten, and to have some of my mentors vote on it was special,” he said. “A lot of people helped me to get to where I am today. I’m lucky. I go to work every day and do what I love. We just bought a house here in Colorado Springs, so it looks like we’ll be here for awhile.”