Inspiring Coaches Finalist Kay Nekota

Vacaville High School - Vacaville, CA

Number of years coaching: Off and on since 1999, but at Vacaville High School for the last 8 years.

At a glance: Coach Kay Nekota focuses on each of her over 100 runner's individual achievement, not just on the podium. She makes her team a safe place where anyone, even beginners, feels they too can run. Her time as a coach is spent building the character and camaraderie of her team while also promoting a winning spirit. Coach Nekota often plans team building activities which she funds and never hesitates to provide a pair of shoes for a runner in need. She is known to put her needs lasts and often times will stay late to tutor students who need extra help off the track.


What piece of advice does Coach Nekota give an athlete having a bad day to inspire them?
If an athlete is having a bad day, I usually try to let him/her know that I am proud of him/her no matter what. I also like to tell him/her that you have to have not so great days to know what great days feel like. If every day was a good one, then you wouldn't know what a good day felt like. Another approach I usually take is to point out that it is a good thing that they are disappointed because then it means that running is important to them. Validating his/her feelings is huge when trying to console a young adult.

What makes Coach Nekota Run Happy?
What makes me Run Happy is knowing that I am working hard for a cause bigger than myself. As a young runner, I used to think that running was about winning and beating my opponent. As the years have gone by, my perspective has evolved. Running for me now makes me feel alive. I run for me and others do not matter as long as I am trying my best and working hard to be healthy both inside and out.

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