Loeffler named new XC coach as Woods steps down


Patrick Bell

Shawn Woods

Starting next season, Kim Loeffler will be taking over for the men’s and women’s cross country team.
Loeffler is no stranger to NVU-Johnson, as she is currently the women’s triathlon head coach.

Under her leadership for the last two years, the triathlon team has gained instant success. In their inaugural season, they had first place finishes in their first three races, earned the title of DIII NCAA West Regional Champions, and placed fifth at the DIII National Championship in Tempe, Arizona.
They were able to build from their inaugural season the following year, as several of her triathletes placed personal bests throughout the season.

She has an extensive background in cross country as well, as she had coached the South Burlington High School cross country team in 2014. Loeffler was also a NCAA Division I athlete at the University of Massachusetts, competing on the cross country and track & field teams.

With Loeffler coming into her new role as head coach, comes Shawn Woods stepping down. Woods has been at Johnson for the last eight years as both cross country and track & field coach. Despite stepping down from the cross country team, he will still be the track & field coach in the spring.

Woods stepped down for a variety of reasons. His parents are in their 90’s, and live an hour north of New York City, so he needed to make time to travel down every so often.

Woods also owns a touring business in Stowe and the fall is his busiest time of the year.

Finally, he has recently struggled to attract new athletes to the program. For his first six years, he had a full, healthy roster that could compete at a high level. These last two years have been a struggle with numbers, and he’s had to borrow players from other sports to compete at meets during the season.

“So you put those three things together, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that it was a good decision for me and for the program,” he said. “I never, when I came here eight years ago, ever intended to go two sports forever. The responsibilities of recruiting, where I was trying to recruit for four sports in men’s and women’s cross country and track & field… You cannot do it. You just can’t.”

Woods has had several accomplishments as a coach, but the one he’s most proud of is his team’s graduation rate, as most of his athletes graduated from Johnson with bachelor degrees. The ability to work with students, both on and off the training surface, will be the thing he misses most with cross country.

“I mean, you know, at 63 I don’t have to do this, but I do it because I like your age group,” he said. “I find my athletes interesting and I feel like I have something to offer, as I think mentoring is an important thing. I love being outside on the trails and stuff, but I think it’s the students that I’m going to miss most. I’ve been in this for 40 years in coaching and education. I went into it because I liked working with young people. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have stayed with it.”