MOROCCO | Hall of Fame baseball manager Leo Durocher was blowing smoke when he said nice guys finish last.
He never met Tim Loughmiller.
The long-time boys and girls track and cross country coach recently received the Crystal Bell Award given to the top teacher in the North Newton School Corporation.
Faculty and administration nominate candidates for the award and Loughmiller was a unanimous choice.
"I was kinda floored by it, honestly, when I found out," Loughmiller said.
He was honored Tuesday at Andora's Restaurant in Schererville, an event he almost missed because North Newton was hosting the Greater South Shore Conference girls meet at that time -- nearly 40 miles away.
As exciting as winning the Crystal Bell Award was, Loughmiller couldn't leave his girls team until his wife, Lori, finally convinced him to.
"First time in 37 years I missed a track meet," Loughmiller said. "I stayed as long as I could while my wife was kicking me in the butt, saying: 'Come on, come on.'
"At first, I thought I can't leave the girls conference meet, but the award is quite prestigious. It would be like a slap in the face if I didn't show up."
Loughmiller's guilt trip didn't last too long.
"I've got really good assistant coaches, coaches that I trust," he said. "That makes it a lot easier."
Loughmiller teaches Social Studies and is the Spartans' winningest boys basketball coach. He was nominated by Nancy McClatchey, a colleague of more than 25 years at North Newton Jr./Sr. High School.
"He is the epitome of a role model for his students and athletes," McClatchey said. "Tim has been shaping lives of our high school students outside the teaching classroom.
"He works hard to instill the self-pride our athletes need to be successful on the track and in life."
Loughmiller said his hero and role model is 80-year-old father, James, who lives in Indianapolis.