VACAVILLE — Vacaville High’s running family came out in full force Wednesday night in support of ‘Coach Kay.’
Kay Nekota, the Bulldogs’ cross country coach, was at Fleet Feet – along with approximately 100 supporters – was recognized by Brooks Sports as one of the 25 finalists nationwide for the Inspiring Coaches Program.
Nekota was nominated by parents and athletes for the award and was selected a finalist out of 1,800 entries from across the nation.
“I’m speechless,” Nekota said. “It’s very humbling. I have great parents and great athletes. I’m honored.”
As for the outpouring of support Wednesday night, Nekota, who was welcomed with resounding applause when she entered, was truly surprised.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said Nekota, who’s also an assistant coach to Mike Papadopoulos for Vacaville’s track team. “I didn’t know who would come out. I have great family of athletes. It’s special.”
In honor of her being a finalist, Brooks Sports’ Thomas Buxton and Fleet Feet’s owner Carol Gilpin presented Nekota with a bronze-spiked shoe, with oohs and awes coming from the crowd, and a personalized half-zip running shirt with her name and award finalists embroidered on its chest.
As for what makes her such an inspirational coach? Nekota’s answers went right back to her running family.
“I just have incredible athletes and parents,” she said. “They are the ones that nominated me. I know the other 24 (finalists) are just as qualified as me, so it’s just an honor to be considered. I’m still awestruck.”
According to its email, “Brooks started the Inspiring Coaches Program in 2011 to go above and beyond to build and keep their programs strong, make a lasting difference in the lives of their athletes and inspire everyone in the community to run and be active. . . . Coach Kay Nekota focuses on each of her more than 100 runners’ individual achievement, not just on the podium. She makes her team a safe place where anyone, even beginners, feels they too can run.
“Her time as a coach is spent building the character and camaraderie of her team while also promoting a winning spirit. Coach Nekota often plans team building activities which she funds and never hesitates to provide a pair of shoes for a runner in need. She is known to put her needs last and often times will stay late to tutor students who need extra help off the track.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org.