Continuing journey by teaching others

Cross-country and track and field coach reflects on his journey to SPU

Gabe Sta Maria, Staff Writer

man stands on field at a college track
Coach Reed observes the sprinters as they go through drills using a weighted sled. (Jacky Chen)

Before Chris Reed became the associate head coach for track and field and cross-country at Seattle Pacific University, he had an impressive career in high school and college gaining All-American recognition.

In Reed’s long journey of competing as a student-athlete to eventually coaching and guiding athletes on to success, he always wants to be able to teach and guide his athletes even off the track.

“One of the goals that I have every year is to help the athletes grow as much as they can using our sport as a vessel for growth. Obviously I want them to be able to improve in the sport as much as they can, but in order to do that, we have to give them the tools they need to find success on their own.”

Before becoming a coach, Reed grew up around the sport.

“[Cross-country] got introduced when I was a kid. My dad was a coach for a few years while he was in college,” said Reed. “I didn’t end up running cross-country myself until sophomore year of high school, so I was a little bit of a late starter, but I haven’t looked back since.”

Reed attended Klamath Union High School in Oregon and participated in mostly the distance events in track and field and cross-country. Running in mostly long distance races throughout high school, he continued to participate in those types of events up into college.

“I made state my junior year in cross-country and that was kind of a big breakthrough year. In senior year, I got third in state in cross-country and I did end up making it to the track championships as well,” said Reed.

man holds two medicine balls
Coach Reed carries medicine balls over to some of the athletes during practice. (Jacky Chen)

In reflecting on his time in high school, Reed was in his junior year of high school when he knew he had the confidence and ability to compete at a higher level in college.

“As my time started to come down I thought I was definitely in a position where I know I can do it and I started getting phone calls from coaches,” said Reed.

Reed’s time in high school would ultimately lead him to compete at Western Oregon University, where he accomplished great milestones in his collegiate career.

“In cross-country I was thirteenth in GNAC as a freshman, twelfth as a sophomore, seventh as a junior and third as a senior,” said Reed. “Top ten was considered All-GNAC, so I finally got All-GNAC as a junior and senior.”

Reed was a coach at Western Oregon University for about two and a half years until he got offered a coaching position at SPU. He had always vaguely known about SPU and their athletics due to Western Oregon and SPU being in the same athletic conference. His path to SPU started when he met Karl Lerum, SPU’s current cross-country and track and field head coach, during meets and having conversations with him.

“There came a point where [Lerum] was looking for some new assistant coaches, there were a couple vacancies on his staff,” said Reed. “At the time I felt ready to move on, I had been at Western Oregon for a total of six and a half years both as a student-athlete and as a coach. I knew that the opportunity to have a full time coaching job in a city like Seattle, that was very enticing.”

Reed described the 2019 season as his favorite moment of his coaching career. In the 2019 cross-country season, with Reed’s help SPU had a 12th place finish at the NCAA Division II Championships which was the program’s best placement in a decade. With a minor setback in having one of their best student-athletes leave the program during the 2019 season, they still found a way to make the NCAA meet.

“We somehow found a way to make the NCAA meet and I’m so proud of them for doing that. We were darn close [to being top ten] and we really could not have run much better than we did that day,” said Reed. “We had people who just stepped up, rose up, and just said, this is a unifying moment for us, we can let it destroy us or unify us.”