Last year, Cristo Rey chemistry teacher, cross country coach, and lifelong runner Molly Boyle spoke to an athletic trainer about stretches to prevent the knee pain and shin splints experienced by some of her student runners. Nodding in the direction of one runner, the trainer shook her head and confirmed, “No amount of stretching will keep shin splints away if your runner keeps wearing those shoes.”
Cristo Rey’s inclusive cross country and track and field programs attract both experienced athletes and those who are brand new to running alike. “Regardless of experience,” admits Ms. Boyle, “few of our runners show up to the season with a good pair of true running shoes. For most of the families we serve, the idea of prioritizing a significant investment in running shoes doesn’t fit the budget, and many students need shoes they can use for multiple sports.”
So, when Ms. Boyle came across a generous grant opportunity from the Brooks Running Company, she made the time to apply, on top of her coaching and teaching obligations. After some helpful edits from colleague Carolyn Alessio, Ms. Boyle’s submission was chosen along with those from 25 other schools nationwide, providing $2,000 for team expenses and equipping runners with top end running shoes, apparel, and even a custom team tent!
Reactions to the new shoes were unequivocal - "They put them on their feet and the reactions were beautiful," remembers Ms. Boyle. While trying out her new pair on a treadmill, senior runner Kailey exclaimed, “I didn’t know that shoes could feel this way!” Fellow senior Alex admitted, “My shoes were three years old and had been used for eight sport seasons! These are great.” After the first two weeks with the new shoes, complaints about shin splints dropped off and a few new PRs were set.
Since 2015, Brooks’ Booster Club initiative has invested more than $2.1 million in cash and running gear among more than 6,000 young runners. Jordan Hamm of Brooks shares, “At Brooks, we know that running is the most inclusive sport in the world… The Brooks Booster Club ensures that accessibility so that young runners can have a lasting and impactful experience with our sport.”
Ms. Boyle approves of Brooks’ plan: “Chicago has a great running culture. Our students witness teachers’ running groups take off from the school plaza after school and iconic races like the Chicago Marathon, Shamrock Shuffle, and our neighborhood’s own Carrera de los Muertos run for Day of the Dead. The majority of our runners are inspired to continue after high school, and many of them got their first, captivating exposure to running here at Cristo Rey.”
Thank you, Ms. Boyle and Brooks!
Editor’s note: Ms. Boyle says she just ran out of men’s size 9.5. If readers have any leads, contact email@example.com.