Mike Sherman ’83: Cross Country Lessons for the Long Run

“George School is an accepting community. Our team values reflect the Quaker values of George School and welcome any student-athlete willing to put in the work necessary to succeed,” said Mike Sherman ’83, Head Coach of George School Cross Country.

George School Cross Country has always had a close connection to Mike. He was a George School student-athlete himself as a member of both the Track and Field and Cross Country teams. After graduating, he went on to compete as a member of the Bloomsburg University track and field program.

Following his collegiate running career, Mike earned his USA Track and Field certificate and his RRCA coaching license and began coaching private lessons for athletes specializing in cardio training.

In 2016, Mike was called back to George School by a former teammate, Stephen Moyer ’82, who asked him to assist in coaching. Today, as head coach, Mike makes it his mission to give back what he learned from his running career by teaching the next generation of George School runners.

Mike is always learning how to be a better coach by listening to his student-athletes. “Meeting the students halfway, and understanding their mindset is the most important thing. Not many people would choose to do a sport that involves being in pain for thirty minutes or more—it isn’t easy, and the mental fortitude needed to stay positive through that pain is absolutely necessary.”

Margaret Massengill ’26, one of the lead runners on the Cross Country team, sees Mike’s ability to really listen to his athletes as a huge advantage.

“Working with Mike has always left me feeling supported and understood,” Margaret said. “I feel like everybody on the team can agree that he’s just an amazing guy. I really look up to him in a lot of ways in the ways that he’s been so consistent with running throughout his life and when everybody sees him, he’s a familiar comforting face to see.”

Mike sees a strong team dynamic as an essential component of the experience for his runners, and he intentionally leans on his more experienced members of the team to be role models for newer students.

“As their Coach, I am the team’s biggest cheerleader and always trying ways to motivate the athletes to do their best, but it’s really up to those experienced runners to pave the way for their younger teammates,” Mike said.

In addition to the team dynamic, however, Cross Country requires an individual discipline that is built by each athlete’s daily routine and commitment to the sport—and Mike believes that commitment has an impact that goes far beyond being a member of the team.

“No one makes you show up to practice except yourself. The effort you put in during practice is a reflection of the effort you put in your daily life,” Mike explains. “Although you may not always want to go to practice, it’s the same for adults who have jobs they don’t prefer. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is to go through the motions and show up.”

At the start of each season, Mike separates the team into pace groups to gauge each student’s running level. Then he varies practices with hill workouts, tempo runs, and long runs to build up cardio strength, catering to the athletes’ strengths and areas of needed improvement.

He also teaches the team life lessons along the way—like the importance of being on time. “If you’re on time, you’re late,” Mike tells the team. “Being punctual is the first step to growing up and becoming a professional person in society. The consistency of showing up to work out and being relied on by others is an extremely useful habit to have.”

Mike knows first-hand what it takes to be a George School student and finds inspiration in his team’s dedication to the sport despite their courseloads and busy schedules.

“Having the opportunity to see these students, who have other things going on in their life, still have the courage to show up to practice prepared and on time is what motivates me to get up to work day in and day out,” he said. “They aren’t just runners; they have a life outside of the sport that can be challenging at times. Some use running as a way to escape or just enjoy their time. That effort and passion is what inspires me to be a coach.”

“When I first came to George School I didn’t have a clue who I was,” remembered Mike. “George School showed me who I am and does the same for students today.”