Jim Thorpe Area High School (Jim Thorpe, Penn.)
Number of years coaching:26 years.
At a glance: A love of running has kept Drew Benyo coaching cross country for 25 years. At Jim Thorpe Area High School in Jim Thorpe, Pa., Coach Benyo is known for being an inclusive coach, even being the area photographer and sending meet photos to other schools. The respect that competing coaches have for Coach Benyo is evident at meets where he dares his athletes to dream big. His coaching style is all-inclusive as Coach Benyo routinely introduces kids with developmental and learning disabilities to running and he often has his teams volunteer with Special Olympics.
What advice does Coach Benyo give his athletes?
From day one, my runners know that all I ever expect is their very best. No coach can ask for more. There is no such thing as 110 percent. If they give their team, their school, themselves and me their best, I will never be disappointed in them, and they have no reason to be upset with their effort. They know from the first day I meet them that if they cross a finish line and look me in the eyes and tell me they did their best, I will be satisfied with that effort. The real test is when they are alone at night, washing their face and brushing their teeth. If they can look into that mirror, tell themselves the same thing they told me, and not blink, they can be content that they have done their very best. That is all they can ask of themselves. I also use the great Jimmy Buffett line that if you decide to run with the ball, you will get the snot knocked out of you, and you will fumble, but always remember who much fun it is to run with the ball.
What makes Coach Benyo Run Happy?
Standing on each and every Cross Country course my athletes run and seeing the commitment, dedication and joy they are experiencing for giving their best in a sport that has given so much to me. Hopefully I have given something back.