After looking at hundreds and hundreds of nominations for coaches from all 50 states and watching your thousands of votes roll in, today Brooks crowns Renee Williams-Smith as the 2014 Inspiring Coach of the Year!
Renee’s coaching career has been defined by paving a path for young runners in our sport and providing opportunities, particularly for girls, to experience success and a team in running.
Current and former athletes, parents and fellow coaches nominated Renee for inspiring her Mira Costa Mustangs through her pioneering example. In the 1970s, Renee Williams-Smith was the first girl to run cross country at Mira Costa High School, stitching her own uniform to run with the boys since her school didn’t have a girls’ cross country team.
Renee blazed a trail on a full-ride scholarship to run at Kansas State University and in the 1980s, she was heavily involved in the Los Angeles Olympics Committee, the first Games to hold a women’s marathon.
After a successful professional career, Renee returned to Mira Costa High School and turned a small group of girls training on their own into a perennial powerhouse team, one that considers their teammates family and Coach Renee a second mom.
As the Brooks 2014 Inspiring Coach of the Year, Renee will receive $10,000 in Brooks gear, $2,500 cash for team expenses, membership to the Inspire Daily program and a trip for two to the 2015 PR Invitational.
Renee was selected from 24 other finalists, each of whom go above and beyond in their coaching to inspire their runners to do and be more. They include coaches like Kris Keppel who shows up to every practice and meet even while battling pancreatic cancer and StanFryczynski who has developed and led his teams through humor and compassion during his 41-year career which encompasses indoor and outdoor track, cross country. Each finalist will receive $5,000 in gear and $500 cash for team expenses along with membership to the Inspire Daily program.
Brooks began giving the Inspiring Coaches Award in 2011 to honor high school track and cross country coaches who create lasting, meaningful differences in their schools and communities and to celebrate their work, energy and all that they do for youth running. Each year, we receive hundreds of nominations from around the country and painstakingly narrow them down to the Top 25. The winner is chosen through a combination of community supported voting on Facebook and feedback from Brooks employees and our Inspiring Coaches committee members.
Congrats Renee! And congrats to all of our finalists and other coaches who were nominated for the Brooks Inspiring Coach of the Year Award. The future of running looks brighter because of each of you!