Guynn’s cross-country journey from roster to taking the reins
In August 1995, Christiansburg’s Michael Lee made a stop on his way to cross-country practice.
The senior runner had long been coaxing a sophomore named Shane Guynn to join the team and had decided to take matters into his own hands.
“He literally came to my home, picked me up and made me come to practice that day,” Guynn said.
Little did either student know it would be the beginning of an 18-year run in which Guynn’s name would appear on the Christiansburg cross-country roster in all but one season as he evolved from runner to assistant to head cross-country coach.
This fall, the 33-year-old won’t be coaching the runners for the first time in this millennium, but his name will again be printed on the cross-country team’s roster, as well as every other sport’s, under a new title — Christiansburg High School athletic director.
For the man who has been ever-present in the world of Christiansburg extracurricular activities for almost two decades, the position may be an ideal fit.
“It’s funny, I tell people that I’ve never known what it’s like to just go home after school,” Guynn said.
Guynn ran cross-country for three years at Christiansburg under then head coach Steve Shelton and was on the 1995 Group AA boys’ state championship team.
“Instantly, he was one of those leaders,” Shelton said. “He just kind of had that ‘it’ factor of being organized and enthusiastic.”
Guynn’s leadership and enthusiasm also showed up on the track at Christiansburg, where he worked closely with hurdlers coach Norma Cox.
“He was just wonderful to coach because you would say, ‘This is our goal,’ and he would do his very best to complete it,” Cox said.
That dedication earned Guynn several offers to run at the collegiate level, of which he chose a partial scholarship to run cross-country and track at Radford University, where he could also study to become a physical education teacher.
Guynn began as a Highlander runner in the fall of 1998, but said that by the spring, he felt burnt out with running.
He decided not to return to the Highlander cross-country or track team for a second year and, amidst a flurry of people attempting to persuade him otherwise, received an offer from Shelton to become an assistant coach on the Christiansburg cross-country team.
“At first I really didn’t want to. I just sort of wanted to step back from running completely. … But I ended up getting involved, and it was awesome,” Guynn said.
From carrying coolers to daily runs with the team, Guynn did anything and everything he was asked that first year, all the while learning the coaching trade from the always-prepared Shelton.
“He was just Mr. Dependable all the way,” Shelton said.
When Shelton resigned as head coach at the end of the year, Guynn said Cox encouraged him, despite Guynn’s being just 20 years old, to apply for the position.
Although Guynn doubted the school would hire someone so young, Cox said she was confident in Guynn’s knowledge of the sport and more importantly, his “wonderful rapport with people.”
Entering his junior year of college, Guynn stepped to the helm of the 34-runners-deep cross-country program.
“I feel like there were times when I missed out on the typical college lifestyle. … But I knew what my responsibilities were here. I knew what I needed to get done, and I knew that I had to put a lot of time into it to make it work right because that’s what I saw from Coach Shelton,” Guynn said.
As if coaching the high school team and taking a full load of college courses weren’t enough, the following year, Guynn decided to walk back onto Radford’s cross-country and track teams and complete some “unfinished business.”
Guynn’s daily schedule for his senior year: wake up, run with the Radford team, go to class, go to Radford’s afternoon workout, drive to Christiansburg and work out the high school team, return to Radford for school work and studying before bed, and repeat.
“I still look back and have no idea how I made it through that year,” Guynn said.
Following his 2003 graduation from Radford, Guynn again followed in Shelton’s footsteps and began teaching physical education at elementary schools in Montgomery County.
Over the next seven years, he taught classes at Harding Avenue, Falling Branch and Christiansburg elementary schools and Christiansburg Primary School, often splitting his day between two locations, until he took a physical education position at Christiansburg Middle School in 2010.
During that period, he also moved up the ranks within the Christiansburg athletic department, serving for a time as the girls’ soccer coach and eventually becoming the head coach for both the indoor and outdoor track teams.
He guided the indoor boys’ track team to the 2010 Group AA state title, and last fall, coached the boys’ cross-country team to their first podium finish since 1995 — third place.
From a distance, Shelton said he watched his former runner take the programs he worked with to the next level, turning the teams into families and keeping his athletes constantly aware of their importance.
“They’re more than just points to him, they’re people to him,” Shelton said. “He’s real invested in making sure individuals are successful and going out of his way to make that happen.”
When the Montgomery County School Board decided to re-establish the athletic director position at Christiansburg High School this summer, Guynn was hesitant to apply at first but said the organizational and leadership aspects of the job eventually won him over.
“I love bringing things together and being the leader of something or being the spearhead of something. That just excites me,” he said.
Guynn said he hopes to instill within the entire athletic department the type of family atmosphere and high standards his running teams developed over his tenure.
“Not that a lot of those principles aren’t there, but I think we can be even stronger and even more unified,” Guynn said.
Less than two months into his new job, Guynn’s passion for organization and being active in all aspects of Christiansburg’s athletic landscape are already evident: from participating alongside players in the football team’s summer workouts to taking part in the cross-country team’s annual Cross the County run fundraiser.
Head football coach Tim Cromer said he has already been impressed with the new athletic director’s level of involvement.
“He has that extra place in his heart for our school. … I think we’re very blessed to have him as A.D.,” Cromer said.
Guynn’s presence is being felt — which is something he prides himself on.
“I want to be that person that every kid on every team knows, ‘That’s our athletic director. I know where his office is. I know that I can come to him with concerns. He’s supporting us, he wants to watch us and he wants to be there to watch our growth,’ ” Guynn said.
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