2012 Brooks Inspiring Coach of the Year Paul Raley
Benton High School - Benton, WI
Number of years coaching:
31 years coaching high school Track and Field.
At a glance:
In the 1980's, Coach Paul Raley lead a strong track program at Benton High School before leaving to pursue other job opportunities. The program that he championed eventually folded, so when he retired from teaching he returned to Benton High School to revive the program that he loved so dearly. For the first four years, he funded the program on his own and continues to work for free as the volunteer head coach. Now as he faces his own personal medical struggles, he continues to coach as much as possible, so he can pass his joy of running and coaching advice onto his athletes.
What piece of advice does Coach Raley give an athlete having a bad day to inspire them?
The first thing I try and do is find something positive to tell them. Athletes can read body language, so stay upbeat. They will look to his/her coach for support immediately, so being positive is the way to start. I then try and calm them down and give them confidence and support. In this day and age where "touching" can be frowned on, I still give hugs, high fives, and pats on the back where needed! We all have hurdles in our lane or path of life. Some of these hurdles are bigger than others that we have to get over, and just because we tried, it doesn't always mean that there will be a positive outcome. I stress with my athletes that one can't go around these, they must attack them head on! This applies to school, family, friends, and sports. If they prepare themselves and have confidence in their abilities and teammates good things will happen in the end! There will always be another race to race! So, let's get'em next time!
What makes Coach Raley Run Happy?
Knowing that running improved our physical conditioning, health, and overall wellbeing! My whole family enjoys being outside in the woods, in the lake, on trails, or in the mountains as much as possible. Running, biking, walking, lifting weights, and swimming are a big part of our family's routine!
2011 Inspiring Coach of the Year Amy Pitzel
Katy Taylor High School – Katy, TX
Number of years coaching:
At a glance:
With 64 Inspiring Coaches nominations, the most of any nominee, it is easy to say that Coach Amy Pitzel (also called Coach P by many of her athletes) is loved by athletes and parents alike. Phrases like "always available to challenge, encourage, and comfort her athletes", "is totally dedicated", "leads by example", and "is the glue that bonds her team like no other" continually come up in her applications. One story about Amy Pitzel that truly inspired us was her ability to rally and comfort her team after a devastating experience. In the words of one of her former athletes, "Coach P coached our team through the most trying and inspirational season I've ever experienced. Three weeks before our District race, a team member collapsed and died at a morning practice due to a hereditary heart defect. Devastated, scared, and shocked – our team spent the rest of the day together trying to get ourselves together enough to get back to class. In the following weeks, Coach P truly stepped up to bring the team together. She worked with the administration to ensure that we could all attend the funeral that was held during a school day. She organized a community wide memorial service at the track – over 300 people attended and walked the memorial lap. She made t-shirts for the team in his memory – I still have mine five years later. All these efforts truly brought our team together following such a difficult loss. We became closer than we'd ever been before, leaning on each other and our coach to finish the season in memory of a wonderful teammate."
What piece of advice does Coach Pitzel give an athlete having a bad day to inspire them?
Most of my runners' bad days or bad races stem from having doubt in themselves. I just try to tell them that they need to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them. They have done all the training so know they just need to step on that line believing that they can compete with anyone. Distance running gives you a long time to think to yourself so you have to stay focused and confident.
What makes Coach Pitzel Run Happy?
I honestly love to run and it comes across to my runners. I train with them (or behind them) and they appreciate that I am out there with them hitting the pavement. We run all summer even though I get no additional pay to run them during the summer. I do it because we have to in order to be competitive in our district and because I love spending the time with them. I welcome runners of all abilities to the team because they all can improve. The great thing about running is that you can see yourself getting faster because you can see your time going down. It makes me just as happy to see a runner get from a 21 minute 5K to a 19 minute 5K as it does to see a runner get down to a 15 minute 45 second 5K. I support them and their running after they leave high school whether they are competing in college or running their first marathon. I appreciate that running is a lifelong sport and I ultimately hope that I instill that love of running in them long after they have left the cross country team and high school. It is important to me that my team knows that I care about them and I am always proud to hear of their successes outside of running and into their college years and beyond.