The longtime coach was honored Wednesday with the Inspiring Coach of the Year award from Brooks Running, one of two coaches in the nation to receive the honor this spring.
Gwen Robertson is missing her philosophy. The paragraph was a final requirement to get her coaching credential from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“I would love to find that because I don’t think it’s any different than it’s ever been,” the longtime Issaquah track and field and cross-country coach said.
Instead, a bronzed sneaker is symbolic proof. Robertson, who’s coached Issaquah’s teams since 1984, was presented the award Wednesday as the Brooks Running Inspiring Coach of the Year.
The native New Yorker landed at the school because her husband of 40 years, Lawrie, is a Seattleite. The coupled met at a track and field meet in Ohio. Not having children of their own, running and coaching filled their lives, only taking a break in 2015 for a trip to New Zealand as Gwen, 61, retired from head coaching.
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Robertson is credited with inspiring 20 of her former student-athletes to also coach the sport on various levels, including current track and field co-coach Tracy Silva. After graduating from Issaquah in 1988, Silva went on to compete at Washington State University and returned to see not much had changed with Robertson.
Wherever the Eagles are headquartered at meets is where Robertson sits. She’ll pat a space next to her for an athlete to sit and talk post-race. The first question is usually, “what do you think you did?” Then she’ll offer her feedback.
“She always made us kind of reflect,” Silva said. “I love to overhear her conversations with the kids and how she handles the success and the failures and how she tries to encourage the kids. It’s not a ‘we’ thing. She’s here to support the kids.”
Typically, Brooks Running annually selects one national Inspiring Coach of the Year. Due to the volume of quality candidates, the shoe company will honor four this year. Mark Anderson of Cary Grove High outside of Chicago joins Robertson as the track and field coach representatives.
Two cross-country coaches will be awarded in the fall. All will receive $10,000 in Brooks gear and their team will receive $2,500 in cash.
Brooks lined part of the Issaquah track with blue and white balloons, had approximately 150 student-athletes wear blue T-shirts with “Thank-you, coach” on the back and blared music to celebrate Robertson. She high-fived every student as they took their seats in the stands for the brief ceremony. Joining them were about 15 former athletes.
Robertson spoke briefly, telling the kids, “You make me happy.”
“Gwen has been that coach that I’ve really needed to stay focused on the big picture,” said senior Nikki Stephens, who signed Wednesday to run at Florida. “I knew Gwen had been around for a long time, so I…