As part of the grand prize, Brooks is awarding you with about $12,000 in gear and money for team needs. What are your plans to use it?
We have a huge cross-country team with 110 kids signed up this year. Sometimes cross-country doesn’t always get a lot attention, but it’s the hardest working team, I think! These kids run all year ‘round. So, I want to use the money to get every kid a jacket that identifies them as part of the team, plus we’ll get new uniforms and make sure every kid has spikes to run in.
You were among 10 coaches from across the country nominated for this award. Which of those coaches is most inspiring to you?
Definitely coach Bob Ayton from Hatboro-Horsham High School in Horsham, Penn. He’s been coaching for 46 years, he has 17 undefeated seasons and so much passion for this sport and for his team. All of the finalists were such a neat group of people—no egos and a lot of inspiration. It was great to spend time with them and the Brooks team at the coaches’ camp. The people from Brooks went running with us every day, and are such a great company.
What was the most poignant thing you learned at the Brooks Inspiring Coaches’ Camp?
It really validated how much I love the sport and I learned so much from all the other coaches. I was really inspired by coach John Neff of North Allegheny High School in Pennsylvania. He is part of the Brooks ID (Inspire Daily) program and was one of the coaches invited to be a part of the Brooks camp. He divides his team into groups with a senior as its leader. Every week the group leader chooses a MVP to recognize. I love the idea of honoring so many kids every week and that the seniors get to be leaders.
Who would you say has been your greatest inspiration in your life and career?
When it comes to sports and running, my dad has always been my biggest fan. My dad literally thinks I can do anything I put my mind to. He is the one who was at all of my elementary field days and junior high track meets when my love for running started. Dad was the one that convinced me that I could run a marathon, and he even flew in from his home in New York to run my first marathon with me in Austin, Texas.
What is your mantra, either for training or for life?
Always try your best at whatever you do. I could never coach something or be a part of something unless I really loved what I was doing and was willing to give it my all. I do want to have a highly competitive team, but most important to me is that all of my runners are out there trying to be the best runners that they can be.
Somyr McLean Perry is the executive editor of Competitor Magazine.