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St. John's Alumni

Richie Mercado Receives USATF Education Award

Congratulations to Coach Richie Mercado ’79 for receiving the 2021 USATF Fred Wilt Educator of the Year Award. Coach Mercado has been involved with USATF since 1990 and met the late Coach Wilt soon afterward. From volunteer to the head of the regional congress, Coach Mercado has been at the forefront of the federation’s track and field education on a global scale.
From 1991 until recently, Coach Mercado led the NACACTFCA annual congress representing North American, Central American, and the Caribbean. The majority of his education programs were taught in person. In the last two years, he also led zoom and live stream presentations which were viewed by several thousand people. 

“In 2020 a friend of mine from Minnesota invited me to speak at his pole vault series and I got the idea to make my own coaching online programs,” said Mercado.

Coach Mercado was born to teach. His parents taught at St. John’s and Coach Mercado spent 25 years as a classroom teacher to go along with his 38 years of coaching all at 2401 Claremont Lane. Even the pandemic could not keep him from sharing his knowledge and passion for the sport. 

“I’ve gotten to know some of the best coaches in the world,” said Mercado.

Arguably, Coach Mercado is right there with them. His St. John’s track & field and cross country teams have been some of the most competitive teams in the conference year in and year out. 

USATF’s Wilt Award reads:

“This award recognizes a coach who has a distinguished record marked by sustained, exceptional performance. The winning coach exemplifies passion and leadership nationally for the promotion of USATF Coaching Education.”

A fitting award for a lifelong educator.

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