When the search began for the individual to lead the inaugural season of Potter’s House Cross Country (PHXC) only a few names came to light. Kris Koster has made a name for himself over the past 20 years in the world of West Michigan cross country. Koster was a standout athlete at Calvin College from 2000-2004 earning himself the title of NCAA Division III 3 time All-American in track and cross country. He was an integral member of the XC teams at Calvin that won D3 National Championships in 2000 and 2003 and finished as national runner up in 2001 and 2002.
Koster quickly went from competing to coaching as he was hired to be the assistant XC coach at Grand Rapids Christian from 2004-2013 and well as the assistant track and field coach from 2006-2013. He finished his time at GR Christian as the head boys track and field coach from 2014-2018. He was also the head mens and womens XC coach at Kalamazoo College (NCAA D3) from 2014-2018. A few of his accomplishments from coaching high school are:
- Assistant coach of 4 MHSAA Division 2 state champion cross-country teams and 2 state runner-up teams, as well as 2 MITCA Division 2 team state champion track & field teams
- Head coach of 5 conference champion and 4 regional champion track & field teams
During his time at Kalamazoo he led the women’s team to improve from 9th (last) in the conference his first year to 5th overall in his last year. The 5th place finish was the team’s highest finish in a decade. He coached two K-college runners to earn first All-NCAA Division III Great Lakes Region honors for the first time in 15 years.
It wasn’t just his decorated list of accomplishments that made him a great fit for Potter’s House, it was also his passion for the school and students. Koster said about accepting the position “I’ve wondered for years why Potter’s House had a track & field team but no cross-country team, especially considering that this school has had some very competitive runners, but even though I’ve known quite a few Potter’s House kids and families over the years, I never could’ve anticipated that I’d be the one to start the program here. I know this school community is a place full of dedicated, unselfish people, and that’s really all you need to lay the foundation for a quality cross-country team. I’m really excited to be the coach of the inaugural Potter’s House cross-country team because I’ve seen time and again in my 15 years of coaching what an eye-opening experience this sport can be for the new runner—and in some ways, our whole team will be new runners this fall. There’s nothing like being a rookie runner, committing to training each day for the first time in your life and watching your body grow fitter and faster almost overnight. And to do it with a bunch of teammates for whom it will be an equally fresh experience makes it all the more gratifying.”
Staring a new athletics program at a school that has had a lot of success over the years is a daunting task, one that Koster does not take lightly. His vision for the program is all inclusive, he says, “First and foremost, our team will be a community that welcomes any and all athletes who are willing to commit to a season of training and racing together (and by that definition, anyone and everyone can be an athlete!). Regardless of talent level in running or in sports in general, and no matter how well a boy or girl feels like he/she fits in at school, I want our team to be a place where every single member’s efforts and contributions are valued and celebrated. I’ll do my best to honor each runner’s efforts loud and clear to everyone on our team and in the rest of the school community. We’ll also challenge each other in our spiritual, emotional, academic, and social disciplines just like we do in the physical and mental disciplines of cross-country. I hope to show our team members what countless other runners have found, that committing to the lifestyle of a distance runner empowers you to improve other areas of your life, as well.”
AD Kara Haskill says about Koster, “Kris is an outstanding addition to our coaching staff here at Potter’s House. Ever since our first conversation about starting the program, I can’t help but be excited about where he will lead our teams. He has such a passion for cross country and helping students achieve their goals. Kris is a great relationship builder and will work well with our other coaches, staff, and students in order to properly build the team over the years to come. I’m so excited to see what he is able to accomplish with our school.”
Cross Country is a staple in many West Michigan schools as well as in the Alliance League Conference. Potter’s House is excited to begin its PHXC inaugural season both for the High School and Middle School in the fall of 2019.
Haskill adds, “After the success and rapid growth of our track team, it was a logical next step to introduce the world of cross country to our student athletes. Potter’s House athletics will benefit greatly from this program.”