Hall of Fame Class of 2010
When you think of the sport of track and field in Kelso, Washington, you will end up hearing the name Joe Stewart. If you ask about Coach Stewart, you will hear about the positive influence he had on the student athletes he coached before you hear about his outstanding coaching achievements. Coach Stewart is described as being a fatherly figure that told his athletes what they needed to hear not necessarily what they always wanted to hear, as a friend that cared about you not only within the sport he coached but in every aspect of your life and as a guidance counselor who paved the way for you to further develop by guiding you toward college. His athletes said that Coach Stewart taught his athletes to strive to do their best no matter what their ability and his focus was always on improving. By improving, winning would take care of itself. His influence was so great that the community named the Kelso High School track after him in 2004. Quite a recognition for a Kelso alum from the class of 1972.
Joe Stewart attended Highline Community College after graduating from Kelso High School. In 1975, he was selected as the Highline CC team captain for both cross country and track and field. He was also voted most inspirational. He attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas becoming the school record holder for the 3 mile race. Again, he was selected as the team captain for both the cross country and track and field teams. He was also voted most inspirational. He began teaching at Coweeman Junior High School in Kelso in 1977. He was named the head track and field coach at Coweeman in 1978 and held that position through the 1982 season. His junior high boys and girls teams compiled a 49 – 10 dual meet record and won six district team titles – 3 boys and 3 girls. In 1983, Coach Stewart became an assistant coach at Kelso High School primarily working with the distance athletes. Together, with head coach John Hunt, Kelso won the state AA Team Championship. For the 1988 season, he served as the interim head coach. The girls team went 7 – 1 that season. He stepped aside during the 1989 season assuming his role as assistant coach while coach Hunt returned to coach his final season. In January of 1990, Coach Stewart was named the head coach of Kelso High School. His 1990 girls team went undefeated winning a league championship and his boys team went 6 – 1 in league and won the district title. Coach Stewart served as head coach through the 2003 season. Combined, his boys and girls teams earned a 182 – 23 – 1 dual meet record. That included a streak of 80 consecutive wins between the 1992 and 2003 seasons for his boys teams. His teams won 20 league championships – eight girls titles and 12 boys titles. His boys teams won 11 district championships. His 1993 team placed 3rd at the state meet. During his tenure, five Kelso boys athletes won individual state titles. During his time as head coach, fifty-five athletes went on to compete in track and field and cross country on the college level.
Coach Stewart has been married to his wife Pamela for 32 years. He is very proud of his two children who followed in his footsteps in education and coaching. His daughter Jenne works for the Newport News, Virginia School District. His son Jacob is the Head Cross Country Coach at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. This was Coach Stewart’s 28th season as the Head Cross Country Coach at Kelso High School. It has been a distinguished career in service to the Kelso School District. Current Head Coach at Kelso, Joe Krieder said it best in his nomination letter when he said he believed the honor of him being inducted the Hall of Fame was probably more important to the athletes he has coached who can say they were his athletes. To have that kind of positive impact on people’s lives is special. Coach Stewart’s enthusiasm for the sport of track and field and his love for coaching has made Kelso track and field a special experience for generations of Kelso High School student-athletes. His induction into the Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame is a testament to his numerous contributions to the sport in Washington State and the Kelso community.