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NAME: Kevin Lisle (Marist)
I have been an assistant coach for 18 team state championships since 2011:
25+ individual state champions.
How long have you been coaching and at what schools?
I'm in my 20th year as a chemistry teacher and coach at Marist. I am currently the assistant head coach for cross country, and an assistant coach for distance in track and field.
How did you get into teaching/coaching? Did you have running in your background?
Marist was my first job as an adult, directly out of graduate school. Honestly, I went into teaching because I didn't know what I wanted to do, and it was something I could do to support myself while I figured that out. I realized pretty early on that teaching was a great fit for me, and coaching was fun. My background is football, and I spent my first 11 years coaching it at the middle school level. I also did a stint early on as the head girls' track coach, at a time Roy Benson and Kellie Eyre were working with the likes of Ena Leufroy and Kristen Johnson. Because of that experience, Eric Heintz asked me to run off a few track meets in 2010 while he was busy beating cancer. The entire next year he worked on trying to convince me to coach cross country, and I finally agreed in time to start with him in the fall of 2011. This is my 9th year coaching cross country, and I believe the 12th year overall coaching track and field.
What would you say is your overall coaching philosophy/motivation?
I'm an assistant coach, so I do my best to support the vision of our head coach. I think Eric Heintz is a genius when it comes to coaching runners, but probably even better at creating organizational structures within the team. Clark Rivers, who I work with in track, has an excellent understanding of individual athletes and what they need in that moment. He’s an excellent coach. Our new cross country coach, Matt McMurray, was a runner on the team when I first started cross country in 2011. It's been wonderful getting to see him take charge of the program, carry on some of our old traditions, but also bring in new things as well.
My strength as a coach is in connecting with kids, and helping to build a strong team culture. To that end, I look for ways that I can help build confidence within individual runners and the team. So much of this sport is mental, and I think a lot of the success we've had as team comes from having kids who believe in themselves and in each other.
What is your opinion about the state of XC/Track in Georgia right now? Any changes you'd like to see happen?
The high school running community in Georgia is phenomenal. From my experience, coaches around the state are friendly and welcoming. The runners, too, have a sense of community that is very strong. I think it says a lot when you see kids from rival teams cooling down together, and I see that all the time.
While there are fluctuations from year to year, I feel like the level of competition, on the whole, is trending upwards. It’s been exciting to see teams from different parts of the state become incredible programs.
Besides the standard request for the 4x800, I’m not sure I would change anything.
How are you different now as a coach vs when you started?
I’d say I’m much more in tune with what’s happening in the lives of our athletes outside of practice, and how that can impact training and racing. I’m also much more relaxed than I was when I was younger, and tend to be a bit more optimistic than I was.
What are the things about coaching that you really enjoy?
When our kids finish their workouts, cool downs, and ancillary exercises at the end of practice they tend to gather on our front field and just spend time with their friends and the other coaches. Sometimes it will just be a few minutes, but it’s been known to stretch to as long as an hour. That time we spend together after the work is done is my favorite part of coaching.
Interested in becoming a sponsor of Georgia Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association?