Miami University women’s cross-country Head Coach Kelly Phillips boasts a decorated career and a plethora of experience, and as she enters her fourth season at Miami, Phillips is once again looking to take home a Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship. Sophomore runner Jess Hoover had great things to say about her coach.
“[Phillips] is one of the best coaches out there,” Hoover said. “She is a great motivator and she is easy to talk to. She is always yelling and motivating us and she is a great recruiter.”
Phillips started her running career at Auburn University, where she racked up All-American honors twice in four years on the cross-country team.
“[Being named an All-American] was my most memorable time in college; it helped me run post-collegiately,” Phillips said. “I was excited and proud because I knew I worked hard for it.”
Phillips competed in NCAA meets and qualified for the Olympics in 1992 and 1996, but was unable to compete at the games due to foot injuries.
“[The injuries] were disappointing, but that’s part of running,” Phillips said.
Phillips served as an assistant and eventual head coach at the University of South Florida (USF) from 1997-2001. She coached the Bulls to a Conference USA title in 1998 and 1999. During her time at USF, Phillips held road races in Tampa Bay, Fla. to fundraise for the men’s track and field team.
“The Tampa road races helped fund the men’s team scholarships, and we wanted to get them outside of Florida [for meets],” Phillips said.
After having two children in one year, Phillips needed a break from coaching. She did not take a break from running though; Phillips began the Claremont Trails Running Camp in Claremont, N.H.
The camp has one week for junior high school students, three weeks for high school students and one week for a senior camp. The camp still exists today.
Before Phillips began coaching at Miami University, she was an assistant coach at Purdue University where she also had success.
“[Purdue] did not win a championship, but we had distance runners in the NCAA meet and one indoor track runner qualify for nationals,” Phillips said.
In 2009 Phillips was named the head coach at Miami and she wasted no time leading the RedHawks to their second straight MAC Championship.
“I had my work cut out for me; we were MAC champs my first year,” Phillips said.
But the Miami athletes are not the only draw for Phillips and her family.
“[My sons] love it here, but what’s not to love about Oxford?” Phillips said. “[Miami] is awesome; I love it. I now know the pride that is associated with Miami.”
In addition to the women’s cross-country team, Phillips also coaches the women’s track and field team at Miami and said she feels good about the upcoming season.
“The track team is stronger,” Phillips said. “We had great summer workouts and we are working to build a deeper team.”
The women’s cross-country team opens its season Saturday at the Dayton Flyer 5k Challenge and Phillips has high hopes.
“[This season] lends itself to be an awesome year,” Phillips said. “The culture and atmosphere is great. We are ready to win a championship. Everyone wants to win, how could I not love coming to work?”
And overall, Phillips has enjoyed her time at Miami.
“[The past three years] have been the fastest three years of my life, but time flies when you are having fun.”