Meet Our 2016 Finalists
2016 Ashley Wiles
Sole Girls Vancouver, B.C.
Through personal struggle and adversity Ashley created positive change in her community; coaching, mentoring, and caring for hundreds of girls who battle self-doubt and poor body image. Regarding her mission for Sole Girls, Ashley says, "I hope that maybe I can inspire one girl to be active, because she might inspire one more, and she might inspire one more." That "one more" has become a group of more than 600 girls who will no doubt pass the torch to 600 more.
2015 Manny Castellanos
Lakeview Charter School San Fernando, CA
Manny started a running movement in his community that has changed the lives of many people who never considered running an option. Through his dedication and vision he has created a culture of determination, perseverance and positive, life-affirming change.
2014 Renee Williams-Smith
Mira Costa High School
Los Angeles, CA
Renee was the first female athlete to run for Mira Costa High School and she returned after a successful business career to form a dynamic girl’s program.
2013 Justin Torres
Bishop Mora Salesian High School
Los Angeles, California
By igniting the athletic and academic fire in his athletes, Coach Torres led the Mustangs to both cross country championships and college.
2012 Paul Raley
Benton High School
Meet a man who dedicated his retirement to re-starting Benton High School’s track program, funding it out of pocket for its first four years.
2011 Amy Pitzel
Katy Taylor High School
Coach P blew her runners away as she kept the team united after a devastating accident.
2016 Inspiring Coach of the Year
Sole Girls Vancouver, B.C.
Number of Years Coaching:
Why: "Running saved my life and it might save yours, too." Having dealt with struggles such as self-doubt and a poor body image, Ashley felt a desire to create positive change in her community. "The person who influenced me was a girl who committed suicide. She posted a video before she killed herself. I know what that feels like and I don't think anyone should have to deal with that. I'm a life coach, that's my background – to get from point A to point B – and what I see over and over again is how physical activity can changes lives; seeing how people show up for you and you show up for them." Ashley used her passion to create Sole Girls, which uses running as a tool to build self-confidence and a sense of empowerment in young women. "Sole girls started in 2013. It's an empowerment program for girls between ages 8 and 12. We started with 15 girls and now it's over 600 girls. We run a 9-week program where girls train to run a 5k. We talk about values and we use running as a tool to facilitate conversations about body image and confidence. At Sole Girls, by intermixing physical activity, it enables a deeper learning and is less confrontational – it facilitates an open-minded conversation. We tell the girls to be that person that inspired you 5 or 10 years from now. Find your happy pace!" Many runners have found their happy pace and Ashley's goal to "change the number of girls who are physically inactive" and in return build self-confidence is working.
What Piece of Advice Do You Give an Athlete Having a Bad Day?
What Makes You Run Happy?
2015 Inspiring Coach of the Year
Lakeview Charter School San Fernando, CA
Number of Years Coaching: 4
Why: In a community riddled with gang activity and surrounded by negative forces, Coach Manny Castellano stands apart as a beacon of hope and stability for many young runners. “Because of his encouragement in both school and athletics, I will be a first-generation college student next year,” wrote a current athlete. As a teacher at Lakeview Charter, Manny introduced the cross country program to many students who had never considered running. “Cross country became a program that emphasized the importance of commitment, team unity and the value of hard work both on and off the course,” wrote a fellow teacher. Additionally, Castellano has expanded his mentorship to create a mentorship program between high school and middle school students. Manny Castellano’s commitment to his student athletes and community is seemingly endless. One athlete’s parent wrote, “at the heart of it all, Manny’s love of running and learning are topped only by his love for the people he inspires.”
What Piece of Advice Do You Give an Athlete Having a Bad Day? We all have our bad days, and they are crucial to our growth. Without failure or challenge, we cannot push ourselves past a point - they are usually the most important lessons we can have. Failure should never be seen as a negative, but as a reminder and motivator for our goals. If a student is having bad day or did not succeed, I encourage them to reflect, and take a lesson from that day. Why did they not succeed? What may be the next steps towards progress? Reflection is key in turning what most see as a negative into a positive we can build on.
What Makes You Run Happy? If by “Run Happy” we mean the urge and desire to run, then it is seeing others run that makes my legs itch for a run. It doesn’t matter if I am sitting at a park or driving a car, just by seeing someone out for a run or jog I get the urge for that familiar state.
2014 Inspiring Coach of the Year
Mira Costa High School
Los Angeles, CA
Number of Years Coaching: 12
Why: At the advice of a teacher, coach Williams-Smith decided to run for the Mira Costa track team. After running a few meets in the only option available – the boy’s uniform – Renee decided to stitch her own uniform. Coach Smith went on to run for Kansas State on a track scholarship and then lead a successful business career in leadership and team-building. She used those business skills when she returned to Mira Costa to rebirth a fledgling girl’s program to create a California State powerhouse, empowering young woman and putting the final touches on an incredible story of a trailblazing coach.
What Piece of Advice Do You Give an Athlete Having a Bad Day? That it’s just one day. The challenging and/or bad days are part of the growth that gets you where you want to be, when you want to be there. Also, the statement “If it were easy, everyone would do it” helps them stay focused on being proud of their effort, rather than worrying about results. When they focus on giving their best effort, their best results have a way of following.
What Makes You Run Happy? I love running with friends and talking and laughing about every possible subject, but I also love that long run on my own at 5:00am when the sun is rising halfway through my run and I am pushing hard and no one else is out there and I feel like the strongest version of myself. Both of these help feed my soul and make me complete. Running has given me great life lessons, lifelong friends, and good health.
2013 Inspiring Coach of the Year
Bishop Mora Salesian High School
Los Angeles, California
Number of Years Coaching: 11
Why: By teaching his team from East LA the true meaning of hard work and what it accomplishes, Coach Justin Torres not only motivated them as runners, but many went on to attend four year universities. This is something many of them had never considered a possibility before running. Coach Torres creates a brotherhood among his team with altitude training trips that are more about the bonding then the workouts. This commitment to the team encourages each person to work for something greater than just their personal achievements.
What Piece of Advice Do You Give an Athlete Having a Bad Day? No person is defined by any one action, positive or negative. We are defined by how we handle what life has thrown at us. Having a bad day is the most important time to step up and force yourself to be at your best. Anyone can perform well when things are going well. It takes toughness to perform well when things are at their worst. My boys already have many strikes against them, skin color, socio-economic status, etc. They learn on my team that no one is going to give them any breaks. If they want something they have to work harder, fight harder, and want it more than anyone else… on a good day or a bad day.
What Makes You Run Happy? Seeing my boys succeed!!! On the course, in school, and in their community.
2012 Inspiring Coach of the Year
Benton High School
Number of Years Coaching: 31
Why: 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 Do You Give an Athlete Having a Bad Day? 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 You 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
Katy Taylor High School
Number of Years Coaching: 6
Why: 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.
What Piece of Advice Do You Give an Athlete Having a Bad Day? 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 You 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.
Have a burning question? Chances are we’ve answered it before.
- Q: When are nominations open?
- A: Nominations are rolling year-to-year, so nominate away!
- Q: Do you have to be an athlete to nominate a coach?
- A: No way! We love to hear from parents, other coaches, former athletes, administrators, shop owners, observant passersby—in short, anyone who has been inspired!
- Q: Does the nominee have to coach at the high school level?
- A: Yes.
- Q: When do you announce the winner?
- A: We will now crown two track and two cross-country winners each calendar year. The track coaches will be announced in May and the cross country coaches in October.
- Q: When do you announce the finalists?
- A: With this year’s new format, we will not select or award finalists but instead celebrate additional coaches as winners of the Inspiring Coach of the Year Award.
- Q: What do the coaches win?
- A: Each winner will receive:
- $10,000 in Brooks performance running footwear, apparel and accessories for their team(s)
- $2,000 cash for team expenses (paid to athletic departments, booster clubs or LLCs)
- Membership to the Brooks Inspire Daily (ID) program for the following year
- Wait! You didn’t answer my question!
- Take a peek at the Contest Rules for a full lowdown on the Inspiring Coaches program.
Brooks Running Inspiring Coaches Giveaway Official Rules
Important: Please read these rules before nominating a Nominee (defined below) in this Giveaway (the "Giveaway").By participating in this Giveaway, you agree to be bound by these Official Rules and represent that your Nominee satisfies all of the eligibility requirements below.
NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER.
1. Eligibility. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE ODDS OF A NOMINEE RECEIVING A GIFT. YOU MAY ONLY NOMINATE A NOMINEE WHO IS A COACH AS OF THE START DATE OF THE GIVEAWAY AND WHO IS A LEGAL RESIDENT OF ONE OF THE FIFTY (50) UNITED STATES OR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR CANADA AND IS AT LEAST AGE 18 (OR THE AGE OF MAJORITY UNDER APPLICABLE LAW). IF THE NOMINEE YOU NOMINATE DOES NOT MEET ANY OF THESE REQUIREMENTS, OR ANY OTHER ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS IN THESE OFFICIAL RULES, THEN THE NOMINEE IS NOT ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE A GIFT, AND BROOKS SPORTS, INC. ("Brooks") RESERVES THE RIGHT NOT TO GIVE GIFTS TO THAT NOMINEE. Nominations (defined below) must be completed and received by Brooks in the manner and format designated below in order to be judged. Directors, officers and employees of Brooks and its participating sponsor(s) and any of their respective affiliate companies, subsidiaries, agents, professional advisors, advertising and promotional agencies, and immediate families of each are not eligible to receive any gifts, Nominate Nominees or vote for Nominees. All applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. A Nominee can be Nominated by multiple individuals, but an individual may only Nominate a particular Nominee one time. Additional Nominations from one individual (including from different email addresses belonging to one individual) for one Nominee will be disregarded. A Nominee may not Nominate himself or herself.
2. Disclaimer. Brooks, all participating sponsors, and any of their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, professional advisors, employees and agencies (collectively, the "Released Parties") will not be responsible for: (a) any late, lost, misrouted, garbled or distorted or damaged transmissions or entries; (b) telephone, electronic, hardware, software, network, Internet, or other computer- or communications-related malfunctions or failures; (c) any Giveaway disruptions, injuries, losses or damages caused by events beyond the control of Brooks or by non-authorized human intervention; or (d) any printing or typographical errors in any materials associated with the Giveaway.
3. Gifts. Four winners will receive the following gift pack: $10,000 in Brooks merchandise for the four recipients’ current high school teams (approximate retail value ("ARV"): $10,000); $2,000 cash for additional team needs (ARV: $2,000);and membership in the Brooks I.D. Program for 2018 (ARV: $1,500). Total ARV of first place gift pack: $13,500. All merchandise and cash will be donated directly to the high school (or its designee) where the winners gift recipients coach and will be earmarked for the track and field and/or cross country program at those schools.
Total ARV of all gifts available: $54,000.
4. Odds; Taxes; Etc. Odds of receiving a gift depend on the number of eligible Nominees and the quality of Nominations received. ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAXES ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECEIPT OR USE OF THE MEMBERSHIP IN THE I.D. PROGRAM AND THE TRIP ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE RECIPIENT. All gifts will be given, except that if there are not enough Nominations for four first place gift recipients, then the number of runner up gift recipients will be reduced to the actual number of Nominations received that are not the first place gift recipient. If a gift notification is returned as undeliverable or a gift is otherwise not claimed within fifteen (15) business days after delivery of notification, the applicable gift will be forfeited and awarded to the Nominee who received the next highest score that puts the Nominee into the top four after the forfeiting recipient is disqualified. Gifts are not transferable. No substitutions or exchanges (including for cash) of any gifts will be permitted, except that Brooks reserves the right to substitute a gift of comparable or greater value for any gift. Limit one gift per Nominee per school. All gifts are awarded "AS IS" and WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, express or implied (including, without limitation, any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose).
5. How to Nominate a Nominee. To nominate a Nominee, take the following steps during the Giveaway Period: (i) Identify a current coach that you think is an inspiring coach (a "Nominee");
(ii) Visit Brooks' Web site at www.brooksrunning.com;
(iii) Click on the "Inspiring Coaches Application" on the Inspiring Coaches Program webpage;
(iv) Fill out the Inspiring Coaches Application with all requested information about the Nominee; and
(v) Follow the instructions to submit your entry (your completed Inspiring Coaches Application, contact and other information are collectively your "Nomination").
All requested information and material must be provided for your Nomination to be valid. Nominations submitted to Brooks in connection with the Giveaway will not be returned. Proof of online submission of a Nomination will not be deemed to be proof of receipt of Nomination by Brooks. By submitting a Nomination, you consent to being placed on a mailing list for promotional and other purposes.
By submitting your Nomination, you agree that your Nomination conforms to the Content Guidelines and Restrictions listed below (collectively, the "Guidelines and Restrictions") and that Brooks, in its sole discretion, may remove any Nomination and your Nominee from the Giveaway if it believes, in its sole discretion that your Nomination fails to conform to the Guidelines and Restrictions.
Content Guidelines and Restrictions:
- Your Nomination must be your original creation and owned one hundred percent (100%) by you, or alternatively you must have full rights to grant the license and rights that you grant to Brooks in Section 11 below;
- Your Nomination must not contain material that violates or infringes upon any person's or entity's rights including, but not limited to, the rights of privacy (including, but not limited to, publicity and/or right not to be held in a false light), publicity or any intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to, trademark or copyright infringement), and cannot describe, in any identifiable way, any copyrights, trademarks/tradenames, logos, or similar brand identifying marks or third party artistic works;
- Your Nomination must not disparage any person or entity;
- Your Nomination must be tasteful, consistent with Brooks' brand and image, must not be harmful to Brooks' brand or image, and must not contain material that is inappropriate, indecent, obscene, hateful, tortious, and/or defamatory;
- Your Nomination must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; and
- Your Nomination must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any jurisdiction where the Nomination is created.
6. Selection and Notification of Recipient. Beginning on or about February 24, 2017, a panel of qualified judges, including Brooks employees (the "Judging Panel") will, in their sole discretion score the eligible Nominee based on the following criteria ("Judging Criteria"), each as applied to the Nominations received for each Nominee. The top 4 scoring Nominees will become winners will be notified by Brooks at a surprise “prep rally” by the end of October, 2017. Selections will be based on:
(i) overall inspirational quality of Nominee;
(ii) clarity and objectivity of examples of how the Nominee has been inspirational;
(iii) consistency of Nominee with the theme of inspirational coaches;
(iv) the most apt, interesting, and original Nomination;
(v) the overall merit of the Nominee (including the number of Nominations the Nominee receives); and
(vi) the overall quality (e.g., writing quality, including clarity) of the Nomination.
On or about May 30, 2017, the two track coach winners will be posted online and on or about October 30, 2017 the two cross country coach winners will be posted online at www.brooksrunning.com/inspiringcoaches.
There will be no public voting – as in previous years – in lieu of a social media campaign aimed at telling the 4 finalists’ stories. The 2017 program winner will be scored based on the aforementioned inspirational qualities by a group of Brooks employees.
The Nominees that receive the highest Final Scores will be the gift recipients. Gift recipients will be notified by email and telephone or about May 30, 2017 (for track) or October 30, 2017 for cross country. In the unlikely event of a tie, the applicable gift recipient will be determined by the Nominee's score in the following criteria: consistency of Nominee with the theme of inspirational coaches. To claim a gift, each gift recipient should follow the instructions contained in his or her notification.
7. Selection of Merchandise. Actual model, color, size and features of the merchandise included in the gift pack awarded will be selected by Brooks in its sole discretion and may vary from photos used in print, electronic, or online advertising, including Brooks' web site.
8. Non-Infringing Entry Materials. You hereby represent and warrant that (i) you have the right to grant the rights granted herein (including without limitation in Section 11 below) or, alternatively, you have obtained all necessary rights and permissions to use and submit your Nomination in connection with the Giveaway and to provide all the rights specified in these Official Rules; and (ii) your Nomination and the use thereof as contemplated herein does not and will not violate, misappropriate, or infringe upon any law or regulation or the rights of any third party, including any copyright, trademark, or any rights of publicity or privacy, or any other intellectual property or proprietary rights.
9. License to Nominations. By submitting your Nomination, you hereby grant to Brooks a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, nonexclusive license to publish, reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt, edit, modify, translate, create derivative works based upon, and otherwise use and sublicense your Nomination, or any portion thereof, in connection with the Giveaway and for other marketing and promotional purposes, and to incorporate Nominations, in whole or in part, into other works in any manner, form, media or technology now known or later developed, without additional compensation to you. Brooks will have no obligation to publish or use or retain any Nomination you submit or to return any such Nomination or Giveaway entry materials to you. You also agree to take, at Brooks' expense, any further action reasonably requested by Brooks to effect, perfect, or confirm Brooks' rights set forth above in this paragraph.
10. Affidavit and Release. As a condition of being awarded any gift, the gift recipient may (in Brooks' sole discretion) be required to execute and deliver to Brooks a signed affidavit of eligibility, acceptance of these Official Rules, release of liability, and any other legal, regulatory, or tax-related documents required by Brooks in its sole discretion.
11. Gift Recipient List; Rules Request. For a copy of the gift recipient list, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope after October 30, 2017 and before November 30, 2017 to Sponsor at the address listed below, Attn: "Brooks Inspiring Coaches" Giveaway Gift Recipient List. To obtain a copy of these rules, send a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope to Sponsor at the address listed below, Attn: "Brooks Inspiring Coaches" Giveaway Official Rules Request. Residents of VT may omit return postage.
12. Intellectual Property Notice. Brooks and Brooks Running are trademarks of Brooks Sports, Inc. The Giveaway and all accompanying materials are copyright 2016 by Brooks Sports, Inc. All rights are reserved.
13. Miscellaneous. The Giveaway and these Official Rules will be governed, construed and interpreted under the laws of the state of Washington, U.S.A. You agree to be bound by these Official Rules and by the decisions of Brooks, which are final and binding in all respects. Brooks reserves the right to change these Official Rules at any time, in its sole discretion, and to suspend or cancel the Giveaway or any entrant's participation in the Giveaway should viruses, bugs, unauthorized human intervention, or other causes beyond Brooks' control affect the administration, security or proper play of the Giveaway, or Brooks otherwise becomes (as determined in its sole discretion) incapable of running the Giveaway as planned. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Brooks reserves the right to amend, modify, or cancel the Giveaway at any time without notice. Participants who violate these Official Rules; violate any law, rule, or regulation in connection with participation in the Giveaway; tamper with the operation of the Giveaway or engage in any conduct that is detrimental or unfair to Brooks, the Giveaway, or any other entrant (in each case as determined in Brooks' sole discretion) are subject to disqualification from entry into the Giveaway. Brooks reserves the right to lock out persons whose eligibility is in question or who have been disqualified or are otherwise ineligible to enter the Giveaway. Any provision of these Official Rules deemed unenforceable will be enforced to the extent permissible, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain in effect. If you have any questions about these Official Rules or the Giveaway, please e-mail them to email@example.com or send written questions to Brooks Sports, Brooks Inspiring Coaches Giveaway, ATTN: S. DeKoker, 3400 Stone Ave N, Ste 5, Seattle, WA 98103.
14. Sponsor: Brooks Sports, Inc., 3400 Stone Ave N, Ste 5, Seattle, WA 98103.