Brooks Sports, Inc. announced the launch of Inspiring Coaches, a new program honoring high school cross country and track and field coaches who make a significant, positive impact on the lives of their athletes. In an effort to support these standout individuals and continue to fuel their opportunities to inspire others to run and be active, Brooks will share these coaches' remarkable stories and award product and cash to help fund their programs.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, more than 1.6 million high school students participated in track and field or cross country programs during the 2009-2010 school year, an increase of more than 2.5% compared to the previous year. More specifically, outdoor track and field was the No. 1 and No. 2 sport by participation for high school girls and boys, respectively, in the 2009-2010 school year. Yet as participation grows, funding for high school athletics continues to dwindle, forcing coaches to stretch resources to keep their programs afloat.

In response to these statistics and countless inspiring stories of high school track and cross country coaches who volunteer their time, pay for team expenses out of their own pockets, and use the run to help keep kids out of trouble and off the streets, Brooks decided to create the Inspiring Coaches program as a way to pay tribute to these coaches who go that extra mile to build and keep their track and cross country programs strong.

“Coaches are some of the most influential people in the lives of high school track and cross country athletes. They play a critical role in introducing young runners to an active lifestyle and the power of teamwork and dedication – all leading to enhanced confidence and self worth during the most impressionable time of their lives,” said Jim Weber, president and CEO of Brooks Sports, Inc. “Brooks is very excited to acknowledge these extraordinary coaches who inspire not only our next generation of runners, but others in their communities to run and be active.”

Athletes, parents, coaches, and others can visit to nominate a current high school track and field or cross country coach who has encouraged and motivated them. Applications will be accepted through April 30, 2011. On June 1, 2011, Brooks will announce the top 10 finalists and profile them on The nation's most inspiring coach will be chosen from the group of finalists and announced in July.

Brooks will award each finalist with $5,000 in Brooks performance running footwear, apparel, or accessories for his or her team; $500 cash for additional team expenses; and membership into the Brooks Inspire Daily (I.D.) program. The most inspiring coach will receive all prizes awarded to the finalists plus an additional $5,000 in Brooks products, an additional $2,000 in cash, and a trip for two to the Brooks PR Invitational in 2012.

Designed as an annual program, Inspiring Coaches is the newest component of the running company's Run B'cause community giving initiatives. Through Run B'cause, employees donate product and time to hundreds of needy causes each year.