Brooks Running Company recognizes cross country coaches Neville Anderson of Athens Academy in Georgia and Denise Benson of Lexington High School in Ohio as 2017 Inspiring Coaches of the Year. Honoring both for using their own journeys to guide the kids they coach toward discovering a path forward as athletes, students and young adults, Brooks will award each coach gear and funding to further empower their work.
“The run continues to serve as a canvas for sharing stories, shaping lives and bettering our communities,” said Brooks Running CEO Jim Weber. “Neville and Denise are two coaches who use the power of the run and their own unique running stories to inspire their athletes, leading them in pursuit of their own development. Neville and Denise’s dedication to the young runners they coach make them standouts for the 2017 Inspiring Coach of the Year Award.”
Neville Anderson pursued his own goals in life after moving to the U.S. from Jamaica as a child. His understanding of sacrifice and reaching for something more is matched by his compassion and encouragement as he helps his athletes become the best versions of themselves. His personal life experiences have armed him with the tools to become a great coach and he regularly inspires his athletes through stories of his early years in Jamaica and his move to the U.S. Anderson believes that if a young athlete works hard, there is a place for him or her on his team.
"This award is beyond my imagination. I am truly honored to even be considered," said Anderson. “I believe kids can learn the great lessons of life through running, and develop the qualities they need to be successful in life. I try to teach them that if you work hard, be persistent and patient in your training, you can achieve your goals. I am very grateful to Brooks for this award! “
Denise Benson has had success with state titles and all-star athletes; however, her true influence is in getting her teams to battle for something larger than themselves and to focus on growing together. She uses her personal story of overcoming health challenges and a “will never run again” diagnosis to teach, inspire and win the trust of her athletes, ultimately guiding them to be the best they can be as runners and young adults.
“My role as a coach is to help kids become better athletes and, in the process, become better people. I strive to make my them believe their goals are attainable, no matter how extensive, which raises the team to a level of greatness," said Benson. “Being recognized for that is an honor, and it’s a truly amazing feeling.”
To further celebrate coaches across the U.S. and Canada, Brooks expanded its Inspiring Coaches program to reward four coaches each year. In addition to Anderson and Benson, the company also named two track coaches last spring as award recipients. As an Inspiring Coach of the Year, Anderson and Benson will each receive a coveted golden spike trophy, $10,000 in Brooks performance running gear and $2,500 cash for team expenses. They will also receive membership into Brooks’ Inspire Daily program and a trip for two to the Brooks PR Invitational.
2017 is the seventh year Brooks has honored coaches who go above and beyond the call of duty to inspire countless young runners and create lasting change in their communities. Brooks complements the Inspiring Coaches program with another give-back program, the Brooks Booster Club, which provides gear and cash grants to under-resourced high school running teams in the U.S. and Canada. Both programs support Brooks’ purpose to inspire everyone to run and be active.