Inspiring Coaches Finalist Stephanie Winkler

Buena Regional High School - Buena, NJ

Number of years coaching: 8 years coaching track.

At a glance: Coach Stephanie Winkler treats all her athletes like daughters. Buena Regional High School is in one of the lowest economic bracket school districts in the state and many of the students don’t get the opportunity to participate in school activities. She encourages students to come out for track, knowing that it may be their only opportunity to participate and how it can build their self-esteem. She purchases gear and hosts pasta parties to get the team together to bond. After running track, many of her students realize that they can be successful not just in running, but in life.


Which coach inspired Coach Winkler while she was in high school?
Linda Anderson taught me that in order to be a successful coach you also have to be caring. She didn’t have a running background, but we worked hard for her because she respected us as people and athletes.
I was also inspired by Steve Kordos. Although he did not coach me, he influenced me greatly. For many years he was Buena’s head coach. I was an assistant coach under him for one season in 2005. In the short time that I was with him, he told me that he wanted me to take over the girl’s program one day. He taught me everything he knew. Little did either of us know that one day would come so soon. Over that summer he suffered a debilitating stroke that rendered him unable to speak. He currently resides in an assisted living facility. I was faced with the decision of whether to take over the program. At the time I had 2 small children and I knew taking over the head coaches position would mean countless hours away from my family. My husband was very supportive and my kids told me that I couldn’t leave all those kids without a coach and that I had to do it. So that’s what I do. I give my athletes everything I have because I never want them to not be successful because of me. I can’t ask them to give their all, if I don’t give mine. I thank Coach K for that valuable lesson. I am proud to say that since I took over the program our dual meet record is 70-2-1.

What makes Coach Winkler Run Happy?
Running is always there for you. All you need is a pair of sneakers. It is there to clear your mind when you are overwhelmed. It is even there to make your good mood better. It is one of the best vices in the world! I never go for a run, finish, and regret I did it. I feel accomplished every time I run.

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