CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A respected coach typically imparts wisdom from experiences lived and long passed, but one who regularly proves his mettle in the sport such as George Washington's Nick Bias takes inspiration to new heights.
Bias, the second-year Patriots cross country coach, will run as part of the 41st-annual Charleston Distance Run at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. A successful athlete in his own right, the 29-year-old Bias motivates his runners with well-founded instruction and real-life results.
That example is not lost on GW senior Matt Brafford, the state's No. 1 high school runner.
"He encourages everybody on the team to do better and tells them anything they're doing wrong, helps them through any situation," Brafford said. "I definitely think of him as a role model.
"He shows exactly what we need to do, and not a lot of teams can actually say they run with their coach. He's a very active guy. He teaches health and physical education, so he knows what the body needs to stay healthy and stay injury-free. He always tells us the key facts of what you need to do during a workout and before and after to maintain the healthy body that you should have as a runner."
From his days at Van High School and later running for Concord University Coach Mike Cox, Bias said he learned early he wanted to coach.
"I knew it was in my blood," he said. "I've been around coaches my whole life. I've been around my dad (Tom Bias), all those coaches at Van, Steve Bradley and Mike Cox and Bob Mullett, and I feel like it was just in my blood. I knew I wanted to do it."
After graduating from Concord, in 2006, Bias accepted his first coaching job as track and field coach at Scott, where he recently completed his seventh season.
The bond he formed with the coaches that inspired Bias motivated him to do the same for younger athletes.
"I had a phenomenal coach, who I think is the best coach in the state, Mike Cox, who actually holds the Charleston Distance Run 5K record, I think," Bias said. "He was a two-time Olympic marathon trials qualifier. Just running for a guy like that, you see how fit he is and we saw him in his prime running with us a lot. We wanted to be just as good as him or try to be and run through any wall he wanted us to.
"He was probably one of the biggest contributors to my success and still is. He's such a good motivator and I'm still in touch with him. He still helps me out with my training. His coaching and his leadership has definitely helped me to be, still, a good runner and hopefully, be as good a coach as he is. I strive to kind of be like him."