By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON – Former Rice legendary track and field head coach Victor Lopez will be among four honorees to be presented the Laureates Awards Program Meritorious Service Award at a dinner on May 14.
Those wishing to attend the dinner can register at alumni.rice.edu/laureates with a registration deadline set for Wednesday, May 4.
The Laureates Awards Program was created by the Association of Rice Alumni in 1937 to recognize highly distinguished individuals for extraordinary achievements and contributions to their professions, local communities and Rice University. Every year, three major awards celebrate outstanding Rice alumni and friends of the university, including the Meritorious Service Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Gold Medal.
The Meritorious Service Award recognizes those who have made significant, sustained and voluntary contributions of energy, time and creativity toward the advancement of the university. Alumni, active or retired faculty, staff, administrators and friends of Rice who are living at the time of their selection are eligible.
Lopez is regarded as one of the most respected teachers in the sports of cross country and track & field. Lopez, who started the Rice University women’s cross country and track & field program and brought it to prominence, is a USTFCCCA Hall of Fame member and also a Rice Hall of Fame member.
He began his career with the Owls in 1980 and led the Owls to top-10 NCAA finishes five times as head coach. Furthermore, Lopez’s Rice athletes garnered over 150 All-American honors and collected 17 individual national championship titles.
Lopez-led teams won 10 conference crowns. In addition to the 1994 cross country title, Rice won the 1999 and 2002 Western Athletic Conference cross country championships. The Owls also won three consecutive WAC indoor titles from 2000-2002 and won back-to-back WAC outdoor titles in 2000-2001 and 2003-2004.
He also coached his native Puerto Rican track and field team at the 2004 Athens Olympics and was the national coach for the Olympic teams that competed in Barcelona in ‘92 and Sydney in 2000.
In 1990, Lopez received the IAAF’s 75th Anniversary Commemorative medal for his efforts in developing track & field coaching and coaching education in Central America and the Caribbean, becoming the first North or Central American to be presented with the honor.
Lopez played a key role in the formation of the IAAF’s Coaches Commission as well as the North America, Central America and Caribbean Track & Field Coaches Association.
Lopez retired from Rice at the conclusion of the 2005 season and each season the Owls honor him by hosting the Victor Lopez Classic, which will take place this Thursday-Saturday at Wendel D. Ley Track.