This week is our last installation of our five-part feature highlighting finalists for the 2012 Inspiring Coach of the Year award. These coaches were selected after reviewing more than 1,300 nominations for high school track and/or cross-country coaches who inspire their athletes every day.
To view all 25 finalists and to pick your favorite, vote at facebook.com/brooksrunning. In early September Brooks will select the 2012 Inspiring Coach of the Year, so get your vote in today!
Coach Paul Raley
Benton High School
What is your favorite coaching moment? My favorite moment has to be this last spring when I watched a young man win (steal, seeded 3rd) his first conference title in the 110 hurdles. The next week, this same young man became only the 2nd person in his entire extended family to graduate from high school. He will attend college next fall! Last season as a junior he was homeless for a good part of the track season, yet he never missed practice and was an inspiration to our whole squad. He was named one of our captains his senior year. Track was the only sport he participated in yet he placed all four years in conference and qualified for the sectional meet three years in a row in the hurdles.
There are numerous other moments that are special: having the opportunity to coach my daughter, Andrea, to a third place finish in the triple jump at the Badger State Games, walking through Livingstone, Zambia in 1982 and following two young boys to a track practice only to notice they had me run the practice of what seemed to be for a hundred kids who all wanting to impress me so I would take them home to run in the states, winning the first Boy’s conference title in 1995 for Lancaster over Platteville (who had previously won the last 19), the boy’s team 2nd place finish at the state track meet in 1991 and 3rd in 1994 while at Lancaster, my first conference title as a coach in 1985 and the first in Benton’s history, being named the State of Wisconsin’s Assistant Basketball Coach of the Year in 2009, and watching all of my athletes’ expressions as they exceeded their and many times my expectations throughout their careers in trying to accomplish the goals we had set forth.
How many athletes are on your track/XC team? This past season we had 27 athletes (10 girls and 17 boys) on our track and field squads. Of the 10 girls, six qualified for the Wisconsin State Track Meet along with one boy. We are in the second year of a cooperative program between 2 schools. Benton’s enrollment is only 60, while Scales Mound’s is 75. As far as we know it is the only cooperative program in the nation that crosses state lines. Our athletes all compete in the Wisconsin state tournament series. I started the program back up after I retired in 2007, after many of my basketball athletes approached me about doing something other than baseball in the spring (the program had been dropped for about 10 years while I was teaching in another district). Scales Mound then contacted me about starting track in 2010 and officially joined us in 2011. I totally funded Benton’s program from 2007- 2011 and we have staffed the program with all volunteer coaches through this past season. The school district will totally fund the program starting with the 2013 season.
Did you have a coach that inspired you in high school? Yes, Ralph Heatherington, who was my business teacher and James Pettigrew, my guidance counselor and soccer coach each helped me get through my high school years. Both gave me inspiration to stay focussed on my academics and to go on to college at U. W. – LaCrosse.
Coach Pete Boudreaux
Catholic High School
Baton Rouge, LA
What is your favorite race to either watch or run? All of them but especially the 4×400 (last race of the meet, grand finale, team points, etc.)
What is your favorite coaching moment? There are so many incredible memories it would be impossible to single out any one……a few that come to mind: a perfect score in the state cross-country meet, a one point victory in the state track meet by winning the last event (4×400), setting a state meet scoring record, etc. But, probably my favorite moments have been when we have seen our young men achieve and perform at a level above what anyone might have expected. (Note: not necessarily championship teams or honors but definitely championship performances).
Did you run Track/XC in High School? Yes, I ran track at Catholic High School. Events: Pole Vault, Hurdles, High Jump, Triple Jump.
Coach Scott Griggs
Franklin High School
Did you have a coach that inspired you in high school? Oh yes! My track coach for three years, Gene Ward. Also my varsity football coach, Tommy Stewart. I have visited my track coach when I’ve been back home a few times, he meant that much to me. I think about both of them several times a month. I graduated over thirty years ago and they both still influence my decisions.
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)? Our boys track team won our district title in 2011. That was fun and a surprise. This year (’12) at State was one of the best weekends of my coaching career. Brooks had a lot to do with it!
Did you run track/XC in High School? Yes, I ran track, the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4×4. I ran at Champaign Central in Illinois. I had the school record for one year in the 110’s, mainly because we had a few years prior converted to using metric lengths for all meets in the state. I did not run cross country. (I played football, oops.)
Coach Victoria Jones
Mill Springs Academy
How many athletes are on your track/XC team? XC: Last season we had 10 kids in the elementary/middle school program and 16 kids on the varsity program. We grow every year. We already had 25 sign up for XC varsity for the Fall. Track: Last season we had 31 kids in the elementary/middle program and 35 in the varsity program. We only have a little more than 100 kids in the high school so that means 25-30% of the students are runners!
Did you have a coach that inspired you in high school? Coach Radford (XC) and my friends and teammates Robby and Chris inspired me in high school. We had the best time running together- always fun and crazy. Coach Jones was my track coach most of the time in high school. He is great and we still keep in touch. I still call him whenever I need help figuring something out with the team. The last time we spoke he was in Florida with his baby girl helping her fight cancer. He said that she is the one who taught him about what it means to be strong and that we learn more from our kids than they learn from us. He is right–what a great guy. I can only hope that the kids on my team have the same kind of long-lasting relationships and memories.
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)? Really my most favorite is probably from last summer when we were at a goal setting meeting at xc camp. It was a brand new team of first year runners- I only had one returning runner because so many graduated the year before. We had participated in a bunch of little activities and then they all had to write down a team goal on a piece of paper and drop it in a box. Without discussing it in advance, every single piece of paper dropped in the box had “State!” written on it as the team goal. You know what? They did it too… later that season we were in a tight race for a trophy at region. The points were so close that I thought we placed third- there is no trophy for third…but then they called our name for second place…TROPHY!!! They went nuts!! It was our first GISA Championship trophy! It actually made my eyeballs sweat a little bit. They went on to take first at the League Championships and placed in the top 10 at State.
What else do I love? Every time someone finishes their first 5k without walking. When my graduates show up on Thursday nights to help push the hurdle carts around during track meets or to help with “safety” on the XC trail during a race. When I see the kids around campus and they flash me the “Pre” (finger mustache…but now I guess it will be the “Rupp”- big ears). When they come bursting into my classroom at the end of each day talking about what they did and what races are coming up while raiding the snack closet.
Coach Wayne Roberts
Sandusky High School
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)? I just love to work with anyone who wants to improve. I like to help young athletes set goals and work toward accomplishing them. It is the greatest feeling to see a runner reach their potential and be successful. Once that happens, there is no end to what they can do. Confidence is what it is all about.
It was a dream come true when my Sandusky Boy’s Team won the Michigan High School State Cross Country Championships in 1992. It was just such a high to be the first state champs in Sandusky. All my runners had worked so long and hard and it was all worth the end results.
What is your favorite race to either watch or run? I like to watch all track races.
Did you have a coach that inspired you in high school? I was inspired by my college professor, Dr. Robert Hockey (Cardiovascular Fitness).
Read all the finalists’ stories on Brooks’ Facebook page and vote on your favorite. The community’s votes will be one of the factors we use to choose our 2012 Most Inspiring Coach. The winner will be announced next month.