Ashley Wiles became the first Canadian to win the Brooks Inspiring Coach of the Year Award in Seattle on Friday night. The Vancouver resident is the founder of Sole Girls, an empowerment program for girls between 8 and 12 that uses running to facilitate conversations about body image and confidence.
The sportswear brand describes the award as the following: “We believe a run can flat out change a day, a life, the world. We also believe that coaches are the torchbearers for our sport, the mentors, and the true inspiration behind millions of runners. With the Brooks Inspiring Coaches Program we honor these coaches.”
Sole Girls is an eight to nine-week program, which first started with 15 girls and has now grown to more than 600 participants, that builds confidence and self esteem through motivation and support. The program is based out of Vancouver and first began in 2013.
At the end of the program, the girls run 5K.
— Ashley Wiles (@evaruns) June 18, 2016
Wiles was the only Canadian among the 13 finalists for the Brooks coaching award with the remaining 12 being based in the United States. The award opened to Canadians for the first time in 2015 and 2016 marked the first time that the award recognized coaches outside of high school programs.
The Sole Girls founder is an avid runner and has completed half-marathons, marathons and qualified for the Ironman world championships. She wanted to create positive change in the community after dealing with struggles relating to self doubt and body image.
Three Canadians were nominated as finalists last year including Anna Jack, Edward LaRoque and Kirk Dillabaugh.