By Sam Black
Tim Miles has been running the distance as the St. John’s cross-country team’s head coach for 39 seasons. A student-athlete himself, Miles graduated from St. John’s in 1976, but was quick to return to Collegeville for his new role in 1979.
Miles’ passion for the sport is evident when you talk to his runners.
“He’s a running guru”, first-year runner James Berg said. “He has an amazing memory, he remembers the guys’ names from 20 years ago. The guy is extremely intelligent.”
Miles doesn’t like to take chances when it comes to competition.
“I’m not a daredevil or a risk taker, terra firma [solid ground] is my role model,” Miles said.
His coaching style has certainly paid off, and his record speaks for itself. His team has produced nine MIAC titles, and finished in the top two for 24 of the past 39 seasons. Of the 39 seasons, 22 of his teams have qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championships, with 17 of them ranking in the top 15.
Miles was a very successful runner himself when he attended St. John’s. He was an All-MIAC athlete in cross-country, the 6-mile run champion, and the runner up in the steeple chase during his senior year.
Even with all of these achievements, he’s most proud of his longevity. He also takes pride in the athletes he coaches, both on and off the track.
“I love coaching a sport where your participants tend to be intrinsically motivated,” Miles said. “They don’t need cheerleaders or their name in the newspaper. They self-manage extremely well, it’s not my style to micromanage.”
For Miles, the pleasure of coaching is his. His favorite aspect of coaching is the buzz he gets at a championship meet.
“I love the excitement of the unknown,” Miles said. “I don’t know how it can be more exciting than being with really good people who have trained really well”.
Miles believes that the key to being a good coach stems from passion.
His love for cross country started when he was young. Growing up, he and his brothers, Bill and Pat, all shared a passion for sports — something they learned from their father. The trio all ran cross-country in high school at Cretin-Derham Hall. During his junior and senior year, Miles’ older brother, Bill, became his coach.
“People’s first thought is ‘that must’ve been awful.’ But it was fabulous,” Miles said.
Bill continued to coach at Cretin for six years before switching to Wayzata high school, where he coached and taught for 39 more, winning nine state championships along the way. Miles’ brother, Pat, also followed the family tradition and coached at Great River Charter School in St. Paul for two seasons.