Coach Mike Smith Defining The Mindset And Culture Of The NAU Cross Country Dynasty

The CITIUS MAG Podcast

January 24, 2023

“We don’t talk about winning national championships…What may sound close to it is – we want to execute a great team race in moments that matter. So language we’re really careful about. Winning, second, third, fourth, sixth – those are outcomes. I gotta teach this stuff the years that we get 19th. The teaching is the same.”

We made it happen. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Coach Mike Smith of Northern Arizona University. With more than 20 years of coaching experience under his belt, Coach Smith has turned the Northern Arizona cross country program into a dynasty. Since joining the team in 2016, the Lumberjacks have won multiple Big Sky Conference Championships for both men and women. The men’s team has won six national titles in the past seven years. Coach Smith has been at the helm for five of those. He’s produced multiple All-Americans and Olympians. He is a five-time USTFCCCA National Men’s Coach of the Year. In this chat, we’ll be discussing his coaching philosophy and what he’s learned on the job to create a winning culture.

You can now listen to our conversation on The CITIUS MAG Podcast. Catch the latest episode of the podcast on Apple Podcasts. We are also on Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify.

mike smith northern arizona cross country coach


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Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.