Mira Costa girls cross country and track coach Renee Williams-Smith, right, with University of Pennsylvania-bound Abby Hong at the 2013 State Cross Country Championship. Photo by Jada Hong
Mira Costa High School girls cross country and track coach Renee Williams-Smith is one of 25 national finalists – and one of two from California – in the Brooks Most Inspiring Coach program.
As a finalist, Williams-Smith will receive $5,000 of Brooks performance running footwear, apparel and accessories for the team, a $500 cash donation to the Mira Costa booster club, and membership to the Brooks Inspire Daily (ID) program for the following year.
The winner will be announced at the award ceremony in Seattle, WA on Aug. 5. The Brooks Most Inspiring Coach program honors inspirational track and cross country coaches who not only support their teams with time, encouragement, and dedication, but go above and beyond to build and keep their programs strong, make a lasting difference in the lives of their athletes, and inspire not only their own athletes, but others in their communities to run and be active.
“I just love the kids and am so blessed to be involved in their lives and help them in the sport I am so passionate about,” Williams-Smith said. “I had no knowledge of being nominated and found out that Eliza Davis, who is only a freshman, made a video and interviewed other runners and submitted it to Brooks. It was really touching and I feel so honored.”
Coach Williams-Smith, or “Mama Reniz” as her athletes call her, is a pioneer female runner in Southern California who “stitched her own uniform” to join the boys team when Mira Costa High School did not offer a girls program. Coach Renee then earned a full scholarship to run at Kansas State University and later returned to Mira Costa to launch a girls cross country program.
At Mira Costa, individualized attention and a specific focus on female runners’ health have defined Williams-Smith’s stellar career. “Don’t be afraid to be great,” Coach Williams-Smith tells her athletes.
Williams-Smith hopes to keep the award in California after Bishop Mora, a boys distance running coach at Salesian High School in Los Angeles, won the award in 2013.