Coaching Profiles: Pinkerton’s Amy Bernard & Portsmouth Christian’s Mike Shevenell 1


11949525_10153242702626185_1815182691529984136_nAmy Bernard, Pinkerton Cross Country

Years Coaching XC: 15

Other coaching gigs, sports, schools:

Coached the Greater Derry Track Club, have coached indoor track for 15 years

Accrued Accolades:

2006 Class L Champions, 2008 Class L Runner-up, have coached Class L individual champion, and State Champion

What got you into coaching?

Love Cross Country, plain and simple. When the fall hit and I could smell XC in the air and wasn’t competing myself, I knew I needed to be coaching.

Where did you get your coaching philosophy?

I have been lucky enough to have some wonderful coaches inspire me. Ted Carey (former Pinkerton Coach, my high school coach) was and will always be my hero. He kept me running even when I wasn’t sure it was the sport for me. He cared for each of us on the team, #1 to #25. It didn’t matter how fast or slow you were, he wanted you to be successful and love the sport. Then moving on to my college Coach Chris Cameron of Merrimack College, he really brought talent out of me I didn’t know was there. I continue to use a lot of his workouts and training philosophy with my team.

Biggest Disappointment:

Not winning the 2007 Class L Championship when we returned everyone from 2006. That was tough.

Favorite Coaching Achievement:

2008 Class L Runner up team. Though we didn’t win, it was a team of many newer, younger runners. No super stars, just girls that worked hard and pushed each other. I was so proud to see them on the podium.

Strength of Your Program:

I believe it has been in the depth of our team. We have standards the athletes need to make to participate (though not difficult). They earn their place on the team and value their contribution. Each girl comes in season in shape and we can do much more quality work this way.

Favorite Workout:

I love any workout where I can throw hills and hard intervals at them in the same session. I think it is true to what they see in races. It trains their bodies to handle the changes in terrain and the use of different muscles.

Words of Wisdom:

I believe coaching high school is about bringing a love of running to the kids on your team. If you can instill a love of running and passion for the sport, they will train hard and work for each other. Love of the sport absolutely comes before anything else.

How do you pump up the team before a big race?

First for me – it starts with a run. I can’t coach a big race without blowing off some energy and getting a run in. As for the team, we have our traditions and you have to be a PA Trailblazers to be in on our secrets!


Mike Shevenell, Portsmouth Christian Academy

Years Coaching XC:        19th yearCoach

Other coaching gigs, sports, schools: All coaching at Portsmouth Christian Academy 54 total seasons (not years!).

What got you into coaching?

The desire to share my love of running with young athletes at our school. I started coaching middle school athletes before Portsmouth Christian even had a high school. I was thrilled to start the school’s first ever Cross Country team.

Where did you get your coaching philosophy?

Read a few John Wooden books.

Greatest Coaching Achievement:

Totally thrilled by the number of our alumni who have come back to PCA and become members of the coaching staff for a season, two or 15!

Biggest Disappointment:

Seeing gifted athletes quit the sport.

Favorite Coaching Achievement:

10 years ago seeing our girls win the 4x800m State Championship.

Strength of Your Program:

Leadership development. I love working with and training new leaders. We have a system where folks are identified as leaders early enough to begin taking a role prior to their senior or junior year. The culture has become self sustaining as the upper classmen do a great job training up the younger athletes.

Favorite Workout:

(Easy day) 4 – 5 mile trail run through the Bellamy Wildlife Management Area which is usually followed by the entertaining part of the athletes attempt at “marsh jumping”. Most don’t make it and end up falling in at which point they smell like “the marsh”. Enough said…

Words of Wisdom:

“Run with perseverance the race marked for you”. Admittedly not original as this comes from the Bible.

Three athletes you would love to have dinner with:

Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Lopez Lomong.

Coach you look up to:

John Wooden. On a more local level I’m surrounded by excellent long time XC coaches: Stan Lyford (Portsmouth), Greg Gephart (Oyster River), Brent Tkaczyk & Tim Cox (Coe-Brown). These folks have great programs year after year.


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One thought on “Coaching Profiles: Pinkerton’s Amy Bernard & Portsmouth Christian’s Mike Shevenell

  • Hammerxc

    15 years coaching? Hardly looks possible. Great to see the common thread that gets all these coaches into the sport – seeing young athletes develop in to successful athletes and people.