Logo's NewNowNext has created a series of awards recognizing the best of the best in today and tomorrow's gay culture. They're recognizing blogs, music artists, actors, TV shows and much more. They approached us several weeks ago asking us whom we'd like to honor in the sports world; the choice was easy for us.

Athletes are often the focus of media stories about gay people in sports, and they certainly deserve all the attention they get. Coaches, on the other hand, are too often the silent guides of those athletes, and the openly gay coaches in college — well, you can pretty much count them on one hand.It's these coaches, though, who have the most to lose from being out. Their livelihoods depend on being guides and role models for young athletes; all it takes is a few of the wrong boosters to make noise and their careers can be in jeopardy. While it takes incredible strength and bravery for athletes to come out, it takes double that for a coach to do it.

We chose four nominees who have all developed into wonderful role models for gay people and who have all found success on the field and ice. In the coming days, we will profile all four of these people on the Outsports blog. In the meantime, you can vote for your favorite on the widget above. The nominees are:

Jenny Allard, softball, Harvard University: Four Ivy League championships in her trophy case.

Kyle Hawkins, lacrosse, University of Missouri: Compiled 127-58 record, now coaching lacross in Germany.

Shannon Miller, women's hockey, Univ. of Minnesota – Duluth: Four national titles under her belt.

Kirk Walker, softball, Oregon State University: 460 career wins for the only Div. 1 male head coach who's openly gay.