Presque Isle, ME - Veteran Cross Country Coach Chris Smith was honored by his peers for the outstnding job he has done with the Cross Country Teams at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, being selected as the 2018 NAC Women's Coach of the Year.
The Owls are competing in their 1st season in the North Atlantic Conference and the Women's Team have had an excellent season both as a Team and individually. UMPI finished as the 3rd place Team recently in the NAC Championships held in Belfast, Maine. Individual runners have shown tremendous growth over the course of the Cross Country season with all of Coach Smith's runners improving their race times significantly. Coach Smith's Freshman runner Valentine Degiovanni has been selected Rookie of the Week in the NAC twice this season, along with gaining Runner of the Week honors once. Freshman Irina Norkin, junior Emmy Churchill, sophomore Kendra Silvers, senior Chenoa Jackson, sophomore Rebecca Griffin and senior Jenny Sanborn have all grown under the tutelage of Coach Smith.
Coach Chris Smith began coaching at the UMPI in 1987. He can now claim having had the helm of the men's program for more than half its existence and has coached the women for all but three years of his tenure. Numerous individual and team awards have been attained, the most memorable being the All-American status of Katherine Chabot, numerous national qualifying team championships, and both individual and team academic awards.
Coach Smith has had at least one athlete qualify for and race in each national championship meet since 1989. In 2011, the Owls sent 4 male runners to the USCAA Championships, run in Lake Placid, NY. Along the way he has been named Maine Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, District Coach of the Year on two occasions, Region 10 Coach of the Year, and Combined Regions 9 and 10 Coach of the Year. He has also served as chairperson for various conferences, was a member of the national ranking committee for three years, and has been co-director/director of The County Cross Country Running Camp at UMPI since 1995.
Coach Smith has two undergraduate degrees in physical education from UMPI and a Master's Degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education from the University of Maine. His coaching philosophy is one in which academics are the overall priority with attention to the individual athlete being the focus. His comprehensive training program requires the balancing of running, racing, nutrition, psychology, rest, and recovery with the goal being the improvement of individual running economy, a major emphasis in his graduate work.