Since his days as a student, Chris Miltenberg (MSB ‘03) has bled Hoya blue, which made his transition from athlete to coach especially seamless. The Peter Tegen National Women’s Coach of the Year channeled his Georgetown tradition to his women’s cross country team, guiding them to the national championship.
Miltenberg began his career at Georgetown in 1999 as a runner. He is a two-time All American and the 2001 Big East champion in the mile event. While on the team, he helped bring the Blue and Grey to four conference team championships, and led his team for two seasons as a captain. Now, Miltenberg enters his fifth year coaching for the Hoyas, and was recently voted Cross Country Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Miltenberg credits his experience running for Georgetown as a major influence on his coaching.
“I … understand what life is like here, being able to really understand the challenges our student athletes are dealing with,” he says. “Because I ran here … I have such a different connection to what I do, to what this place is. It’s so much more than a job to me.”
During the 1999-2003 seasons, Miltenberg ran under Director Ron Helmer and Coach Patrick Henner. He truly respects Henner, the current director of men’s and women’s track and field, who he feels shaped him as both a coach and a person.
“The biggest aspect of my coaching is individualization,” he says. “The biggest thing we’re built on is having fun at practice every day.”
He even applies this individualization towards strategizing for races. As opposed to comparing themselves to other schools, the women’s runners simply look within themselves and to each other.
“Our focus for the last five years has been being the best us we can be,” the coach said. “If we do that, then we won’t be worried about expectations and the outcome … we try to stay consistent with that.”
With a team as hard-working as this one, Miltenberg is not entirely surprised that it won the NCAA national championship. Miltenberg has certainly fostered his “best us” mentality with the obvious success of this fall season, but he is more proud of the way the Hoyas ran together.
“What our team did was run really, really well,” he said, “but most importantly they all ran [together] … I think that’s great cross country, getting a whole team to all run together.”
The triumph of the women’s cross country team can certainly be attributed to the runners, but the influence of Coach Miltenberg has helped the program immensely. However, Miltenberg still maintains that “this isn’t about win or loss … it’s about being the best team we can be right now.”
This season, that was good enough for best in the country.