Chris Smith talks about 37 years as UMPI Cross Country Coach

Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 1:57 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - It was the end of a era at the Unviersity of Maine Presque Isle. Long time cross country coach Chris Smithhosted his final meet as the Owls Coach. Smith is retiring from the University at the end of December after 37 years as coach.

Smith:” I set there looked out over it. I saw a course that wasn’t there when I started back in 87. I felt pretty good about that. After the race was over I was out picking up a few things and looking over it. I said that is the last race that I will put together in terms of the logistics of the course. I had a little bit of emotional, but not a big deal.”

Smith had a successful career with the team. He took many of his squads to the NAIA National Championships over the years.

Smith:” We had a lot of success, we had some tough years, but we had a lot of very good years. We sent many many teams to the NAIA Nationals in Kenosha Wisconsin and Vancouver Washington.”

Not only was he cross country coach, but the past 7 years he was also the track and field coach

Smith:” I coached my first two years here as a student. The job that I have now opened up when I graduated, and I have been here ever since.”

The UMPI graduate always knew he wanted to coach, but wasn’t sure which sport he wanted to be involved with

Smith:” I grew up playing Ice Hockey, that was my sport of origin. I still want to meet Bobby Orr, but I don’t know if that is ever going to happen. I ran cross country in the fall and ran track in the spring in High School. I really loved it. Over the years I got in triathlons and found that when I got the job here, I could put every bit of my education and sports experience together.”

He will take his team to one more meet in two weeks and then at the end of December will be driving off campus one final time.

Smith:” Driving off campus, I just wonder how many times I will be driving through town and take that right hand turn onto campus without even thinking. I have been doing it for an awful lot of years as an employee and coach and as a student. Even back in High School me and my buddies would come up here and sneak into this very gym to kick around a soccer ball or play a little basketball.”