Over the next five weeks, Brooks will be highlighting each of the 25 coaches who were selected as finalists for the 2012 Inspiring Coach of the Year. 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.
Tell us who your favorite coach is by voting at www.facebook.com/brooksrunning. On September 2, 2012, Brooks will select the 2012 Inspiring Coach of the Year.
Coach Arthemon Sindayigaya
Abilene Christian High School
Did you run track/XC in High School? I ran track and cross country in the East African country of Burundi. The events that I ran were 800m, mile, 3000m, 5000m, and the 10,000m. In high school I was a National Champion in Cross Country. I was honored by the Government of Burundi for helping the high school track team. I was honored by the Chief of the Military for helping the military track team. I represented Burundi in the French Games.
What events did you run in college? I attended the University of Burundi prior to transferring to Abilene Christian University in 2000 on a full scholarship to run Cross Country and Track. The events that I ran were 800m, mile, 3000m, 5000m and the 10,000m. At Abilene Christian University I was National Champion in Cross Country 2000-2003; All American Cross Country 2000-2003; All American Outdoor Track 2001-2003; and seven All Original Conference Cross Country and Track 2000-2003.
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)?
- Watching my kids improve day by day
- Watching my kids become national champions
- Watching my kids sign to run in college and receive scholarships
- Watching my kids get excited when they get medals
- Hearing my kids say they just love to run
- Being able to go on long runs with my kids
- When I receive notes from my kids telling me how much they love to run
- Seeing my kids improve their entire life. Not just in running but also in other aspects of their lives.
Coach Ben Talsma
Crossroads Charter Academy
Big Rapids, MI
Did you run track/XC in High School? In high school, the track and field coach tried to talk me into coming out and running several times, but I declined. It wasn’t until college that I took up the sport–I try to discourage my student-athletes from making the same mistake.
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)? My favorite coaching memories revolve around one of my favorite phrases: “It all comes down to this”. I love when the outcome hangs in the balance, things could go either way, and the athlete comes through. In 2011, we needed to win the 4 x 400 meter relay to earn at least a tie for the State Championship. We raced our guts out, won the race, and took home a State Championship trophy.
Another time that comes to mind is when a senior athlete, Molly, who had out-thrown the discus record several times in practice, but never when it counted. At her very last meet, I was coaching the long jump and caught her last throw out of the corner of my eye. I could tell it was a big one and raced across in the infield in time to hear them call out the mark–school record!
Ashley had been chasing the long jump record since her freshman year, and at Regionals she missed it by half an inch. At the local All-Star meet, it looked like she would miss out on her last chance because she had a softball game, but she raced across town as soon as it was done, got in uniform, jumped just before the pit was scheduled to close, and broke the record by an inch.
In the 800 meter run at States, David Dantuma looked like he was out of it with 250 meters to go. He was third from last, well back from the lead pack, and could have packed it in. Instead, he poured everything he had into the race and came all the way back to claim runner-up honors. Those points ended up being absolutely critical to our State Championship. Racing is an opportunity to express your work and your dedication. I love it when athletes give everything they have and show what they can do.
What is your favorite race to either watch or run? The 800 is my favorite race to watch. It’s fast enough that every tactical decision is critical; it’s short enough that the drama is always intense. The marathon is my favorite race to run; the distance seems perfectly calibrated to ensure you’ll test your limits. I’ve hit home runs and dunked on homecoming–but I’ve felt nothing in athletics that compares to crossing the finish line of a marathon and knowing you’ve met your goal.
Coach Christian Cuthbert
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)? This year our Veritas boys team won their first (and my first) state championship. While that was a great moment, it was the journey that still gives me pause. Four years prior, I told the young runners if they developed “motivation and dedication” then they could compete for a state championship. I got to see this team buy into that statement step by step until they owned it. That championship moment represented hundreds of little coaching successes both in my runners and in myself as well. I remember the first time I saw a student stay late to finish doing some extra drills and stretching…after a race no less; the first time a runner came up and questioned my training approach based on a book she was reading on her own; and I remember all the sacrifices along the way that students and their families have made in order to invest in running.
Did you have a coach that inspired you in high school? Coach Loch and Coach Fuller helped me find my way as an awkward teenager, gave me a place in this world, gave me a love I continue to enjoy and don’t mind when I stop by unannounced to this day.
How many athletes are on your track/XC team? 50 plus in the 6-12th grade (out of a school of 76) 16 of those are in high school (out of 36).
Coach Connie Washnick
Park Ridge High School
Park Ridge, NJ
Did you run track/XC in High School? My journey with track and field began not with my own performance, since my high school did not have the sport, but rather watching my then boyfriend, later husband, sprint and jump his way to become an all/state pole-vaulter. I just loved the sport first as a spectator and then recognized the values inherent in track and wanted to share this with my student/athletes. Track and field helps to instill and nourish so many of the core values our young people need to succeed in life. Running builds relationships among its participants and bonds that span a lifetime. Wellness through nutrition and running is at the core of our track and field program!
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)? There are so many stories- but a favorite happened when a [special education] athlete was learning how to do hand offs during a tough workout and one of the 4×4 runners shouted ‘stick’ and then passed him the baton, he yelled back “thank you”. That one moment made everyone just smile and somehow dig in to finish out the practice with a minimum of complaints.
What is your favorite race to run or watch? Personally I don’t have a favorite event- I love them all!
Coach Dan Scroggins
Lake City Community School
Lake City, CO
How many athletes are on your track/XC team? With only 35 students in both our middle and high school combined, our 2012 track team had 20 participants and our cross country team had 13.
Did you run track/XC in college? If so, what events? Where? Growing up with a single mother in a run-down trailer park, cross country enabled me to earn a Division 1 college scholarship to run track and cross country at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. I ran the 800 m. Running truly changed my life. It allowed me to be the teacher, coach, husband, and father that I am today.
What is your favorite coaching moment (or moments)? At Lake City Community School, where I am now, I was able to bring track and cross country to the most remote school district in the lower 48 states. With only 35 students in our middle and high school combined, I knew it would take a community effort to form a team. Luckily, myself, our parents, school, and community recognized how important these running opportunities are for our students. We truly feel the exposure to other athletes, communities, and cultures as well as the travel outside of our isolated county has shaped our athletes into becoming part of a much larger global community. I have since helped them join CHSAA (Colorado High School Athletic Association). This has helped several athletes participate in track and cross country at the district, regional, and state levels. The feelings I have seeing many of our athletes wear a uniform for the first time can be emotionally overwhelming. I am grateful to live in a community that has supported our school and the students whole-heartedly.
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 this fall, so stay tuned!