Coach Michael Shortino coaches his cross country boys while running with them in the 19 degree weather. Shortino practices hand on coaching by going through the workouts with the boys. Photo by Emily Mikesell.

Story by Cody Bahl

“Practice what you preach” one of life’s more popular quotes. However, most teachers or coaches may not stick by what they preach. Many people can relate to their P.E. teacher or coach yelling at them to run faster or play harder while they sit in their chair and watch. However, not all coaches are like that.

Michael Shortino is the head coach of the LSW Boys Cross Country team. What sets him apart from most other head coaches is that he runs the full practice with the team. Also, he will hop into the pool for the early morning pool workouts with the team.

Shortino has been running with the team for years. Also, the cross country team has been Top Ten in the state the last two years. It is possibly no coincidence.

“If they can see me push through some pain, maybe it helps them push through a little bit more,” Coach Shortino said.

“I feel like the coaches running with us makes us want to run faster,” said varsity cross country runner freshman Will Carroll.

While the runners want to run faster and push themselves harder, it is not the only thing that improves because of the coaches working with the team. While cross country is thought of as more of an individual sport, the bond between athletes and coaches can make runners push themselves harder. Whether during indoor workouts or running outside, Shortino is right there with his athletes the entire way.

“It brings everyone closer together because you really feel like everyone is in it together,” cross country runner freshman Mason Gray said.

The team can be classified as a family; the runners are brothers and Shortino is their dad. Because they run together, they know the little things about each other. Both the coach and the athlete know what is going on in each others’ lives at that time because they talk while they run.

Hands on coaching is becoming a big thing in the sports world. More and more coaches around the country are working out and practicing with their athletes. Like the old saying goes, “Monkey see, monkey do.”

Well if athlete sees, then athlete will do. If the athlete sees their coach doing the workout, then the athlete will possibly be more inclined to do the workout also.

Most athletes will admit they follow the lead of their coach. If their coach has a bad attitude, they will have a bad attitude. If the coach is putting in effort, then it will make the athlete want to put in the effort as well.  

That is why coaches doing the workouts alongside the athletes is proving to be something to consider. It shows that the coach will go through hell for the athlete thus making the athlete go through hell for the coach.

However, Shortino isn’t the only coach that works out or practices with his team at Lee’s Summit West. Jay Meyer, head baseball coach can be seen working out with his players during fall/winter conditioning. In fact, at times Meyer will be lifting more than his players.

Also, Matt Turner, the boys varsity tennis coach, will get out on the court and play alongside his athletes during practices.

There are still a lot of coaches not only around the nation, but also around Lee’s Summit that do not practice or workout with their team. However, teams, specifically the cross country team, are brought closer together when their coach works out with them.