COY farokhi

Urbana’s Forrest Farokhi — The News-Gazette’s All-Area boys’ track and field Coach of the Year — poses next to the third-place trophy the Tigers won during last month’s Class 2A state boys’ track and field meet in Charleston.

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  • Why he’s Coach of the Year:
    • Farokhi’s sixth season coaching the Tigers was the program’s most successful in several decades. Urbana captured a share of third place in the Class 2A team chase, earning a state trophy for the first time since 1942 in the process. The Tigers recorded a trio of event victories at the state meet to fuel that result, coming from senior Daniel Mboyo in the long jump, senior Jeremiah Hamilton in the 200-meter dash and the quartet of Mboyo, Hamilton, sophomore Jackson Gilbert and freshman Cedric Sabin in the 400 relay.

    Season highlights:

    • “Obviously, the accolades are there. We’ve accomplished things that haven’t happened in a long time. The three events that won the title have never happened in school history, so that’s massive. But what I’m really going to miss about the year is that the shorter school day allowed us to have a little more time to just relax at practice. And we would spend an hour after practice hanging out in the office, talking about life and post-high school plans and relationships and just general guidance. I’m going to miss that a lot because this group is like family. I care about them deeply, and just the downtime is what I’m going to miss the most. Paired with the highlights, I think that was a big deal — just the downtime and the laughs and the relationships that were built.”

    A sporting event he needs tickets to see is ...

    • the upcoming Formula 1 race in Miami. My wife and I have gotten into Formula 1 on Netflix. My brother and I grew up loving cars, and that kind of spills in to why I enjoy speed so much when it comes to track. I make a lot of parallels between engines and suspensions and your body and your aerobic engine and your speed engine with your legs. If I had the $10,000 it costs to go to one, I think that’d be my first choice.

    If he wasn’t a coach ...

    • if money was no object I would love to have a huge farm and a couple hundred dogs. When I was 6, I wanted to be a vet but didn’t want to deal with putting animals down. But I’m a big animal guy. I’ve got spare dog and cat food in my car so if I see strays or squirrels I feed them. If I could do that, I would just retire on a big farm and spend my day with the pups.

    His favorite motivational tactic is ...

    • the truth. I think that’s something that sometimes people get away from. And not harsh truth, but a kid will say, “Hey, I think I’m going to hit this time this year.” And I say, “Well, sure, goal setting is good, but it might happen a year and a half from now. So I don’t want you to be disappointed in a month if you’re not running that time in a race.” We can take baby steps to get there, but my best tactic is to just be honest and try to set realistic goals so they can continue to move forward and not get crushed when they don’t get it in a shorter timeframe.

    His favorite subjects to study in school were ...

    • anatomy and photography. I actually initially went to school for architecture and decided to change routes about halfway through. I’m a big sucker for anything that’s got a quality of design. I also like human anatomy with the coaching role behind it.

    His favorite athlete is ...

    • Yohan Blake. I feel like he always kind of was in the background when Usain Bolt was doing his thing, and I feel like he never really got the credit he deserved. But he was always in great shape and always right on (Bolt’s) heels and never got the limelight I think he deserved.

    His favorite TV shows are ...

    • “Friends” and the original “Top Gear.” I’ve watched “Friends” too many times to acknowledge. Classic. And, backing up, I watched the BBC “Top Gear” all the way back when they initially started with Jeremy Clarkson and James May.

    If he could choose any two people to have dinner with, they would be ...

    • my grandparents.

    What he enjoys most about coaching is ...

    • just relationships. Even walking into the year I said, “Hey, this is what’s possible, but we’re not going to focus on medals or trophies.” I got seven Father’s Day texts this year. That’s never happened, so I think that was a benchmark for, hey, you’re kind of making waves here and being an influence. And that’s more valuable than any (results) because they’re going to go on and graduate and have lives. But if they come back in three or four years and say, “Hey, I’ve got a good life now.” I don’t need a thank you, but just, “I’m doing well, thanks for being there, thanks for being Coach,” that’s the good stuff.

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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