When head coach Chris Miltenberg took over the North Carolina track and field and cross-country programs in 2019, he had a mission: build one of the best teams in the country.
But in order to put UNC on the map, he had to start from the ground up — which is exactly what he has done.
When Miltenberg stepped into the role of head coach in Chapel Hill, he knew that before his team could produce any quality results, the first step would be to create a championship culture. Without this, there wouldn't be a foundation to build on.
“We can’t come in and say we wanna have all these great goals," Miltenberg said. "I’m first understanding who we’re working with and the environment we are working in."
With that mindset, Miltenberg emphasized getting to know his athletes on a personal level and learning about UNC as a whole so that he could surround the program with the right people.
“The time that he’s dedicated to me and my teammates goes far outside of the track,” said graduate distance runner Brandon Tubby. “We’ve worked on mindset, worked on mental health, like all of these things, they get better as you go through the program with him.”
By getting to know his athletes as people, Miltenberg aimed to build trust with them. He could then focus on sending the right messages to his team to create a greater sense of unity and cohesion.
“He really focuses on instilling in all of us that we are running for the team and that he really cares about each athlete,” fifth-year distance runner Paige Hofstad said. “Our team has just gotten better because of it because he tells us to compete for each other.”
This intense-yet-personable and team-centric attitude has rubbed off on his athletes, driving them to perform at their best.