Cozby’s track history one for the record books

Coach Lynn Cozby with plaques commemorating his 20th and 21st District championships.

Lynn Cozby became the Warhorse Head Track Coach upon his arrival to Devine ISD in 1994. His first team, the 1995 squad, won the District Championship. Since that first time 23 years ago, Cozby’s boy’s teams have increased that number of district championships to 20.
If that number sounds like an amazing feat, it’s because it is. Cozby has taken a sport that relies heavily on individual achievements and turned it into a team-oriented sport. He has accomplished this not only for the Warhorses but also for the Arabians who won their first District Championship since 2009, which bumped Cozby’s championships to 21.
“Winning both of the championships this season represents hard work paying dividends for both the athlete and their coaches,” stated Cozby. “I am especially proud of the girl’s team since it has been some time since they accomplished that goal.”
Devine has fielded a Warhorse track team for 67 seasons and has a total of 33 District Championships. Eighteen coaches have led the Warhorse program, but only 5 in addition to Cozby have brought home the championship hardware (Doyle Parker, Ronnie Conner, Bobby Peschel, Victor Flores, Bob Botone). Previous to Cozby, Marvin Gustafson was Devine’s longest tenured Head Track Coach with 10 years and 3 championships under his belt from 1956 to 1965.
“I am in great company to say the least,” stated Cozby regarding the previous track head coaches for DISD. He deferred much of the credit for the championships that have been won under his guidance, “None of those teams’ accomplishments could have been possible without the great coaching staff that I have working with me and the athletes that are in the track program.”
One of the coaches that has had the privilege to work with Cozby shares the same last name…and blood-lines. Lon Cozby, Lynn’s son and a 1999 Devine graduate, came back to Devine as a teacher and coach before the 2011 school year.
Lon was asked what it meant for him to have the opportunity to coach alongside his father, “What the track program has now evolved into started off as my Dad’s vision. Devine’s track success has a direct link to his dedication to the sport. It was my honor to run for him and Coach Rick Stewart back in the day. Amazingly, they ran the boy’s program efficiently with only the 2 of them. Their determination to be the best coach day in and day out is what drove me to become a State Qualifier. We have been around track our whole lives as my grandpa coached a world class hurdler. My dad learned from him. The ol’ man’s knowledge and wisdom of track and field has been evident over the years. It has never been about him, but always about the kids. I am proud of him as a dad and as a colleague. Track is a tough sport; all you do is run. He has provided an energetic atmosphere with the opportunity to succeed, and these athletes will do whatever is needed to be a part of his legacy.”
In return, ‘Papa Coz’ stated that “it has been a great opportunity to coach with my son. Lon grew up in a track household and his college experience as a track athlete made his coaching more effective for the kids in Devine.”
Cozby gives his assistants leeway to coach their kids in their events, understanding that kids need to trust their coaches in order to be successful. Assistants that helped record District Championships #20 and #21 are as follows: Rene Muniz-pole vault, sprints, 4X200 relay; Lon Cozby-long jump, triple jump, 4X100 relay; Devin Rotramel-shot put, discus; Quenton Sanders-high jump; Holly Muniz-middle distance, 4X400 relay; and Khera Vay-hurdles. Vay does double duty for Cozby as a high school and a middle school track coach and is one of the Cozby’s most valuable assistants.
“I’m very proud to be a part of a track program with such a dedicated leader,” said Vay. “When I look back on my last five years working for Coach Cozby I cannot thank him enough for everything he has taught me and for his constant encouragement. When you look at Coach Cozby and the track program you see similar features; dedication, determination, high expectations, selflessness, but most importantly love for the sport. I feel like it is these characteristics that contribute to the success of the program as a whole. I always tell my athletes that their performance, behavior, and attitude is a direct reflection of the coach and I don’t think there is a more fitting statement for the successes of the track program in the last 23 years. It was an awesome feeling watching those kids compete on Wednesday and Thursday during the District Meet and hearing the announcement that not only the boys but the girls were District Champions. As Cozby held the plaques and had his picture taken, a huge sense of accomplishment was on his face. He also had that little smirk that said we aren’t finished yet. It is that constant desire he instills in those around him to be better and compete at a higher level that drives not only me as a coach, but the athletes of the track program. I’m very excited for him and his track program as this is a huge milestone in any coaching career.”
Rick Stewart assisted Cozby from 1994 until 2011, helping the Warhorses claim 15 of those District Championships. “It was a great privilege to work with Coz. He set the bar pretty high, and then went to work to reach it. His record speaks for itself. The goal was always to win the district title, and he has done it so often that it’s become traditional,” stated Stewart.
Coach Cozby also gave praise to people outside of the school environment. “The support of the city of Devine and the community has helped with the success of the program. With the community’s involvement, we continually host one of the best track meets in South Texas.”
One member from the community that has watched numerous Warhorse track events over the years is Louis Stroud. Among many other duties Stroud performs for DISD, he announces the Warhorse Invitational and the District Meet when it is held in Devine. From his perch in the press box, he takes notice of interactions going on down below on the infield grass of Warhorse Stadium.
“One thing I have noticed is how well-respected Lynn is as not only a track coach but as a person,” said Stroud. “Coaches from other towns constantly approach him about advice on one thing or another. Cozby is very organized and that shows in his teams. He gets the most out of each of his athletes. What he has accomplished is impressive.”
Coach Cozby is a man of few words, but when he does speak, student/athletes listen. Commanding a sport where a majority of the participant’s time is running and racing against a clock, Cozby makes runners, throwers, and jumpers believe that each person on the team is just as valuable as the next, regardless of place or finish. He’s exactly right in that assumption but sometimes not every kid believes in themselves enough to push their body and mind to a level that they did not know that they were able to achieve. Pushing those to do their best in every practice and each competition has been a consistent basis in every one of Cozby’s astounding 21 District Championships.
As the Warhorses and Arabians enter the Area Meet in Poteet this week with a Regional birth on the line, the athletes will be ready and willing to compete at a high level. Several will stand on the medalist stand after the conclusion of the Area meet; those athletes and their coaches will then begin to shift their focus to Kingsville. Cozby’s smirk will undoubtedly tell everyone we aren’t finished yet.
Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer