Turning running into life lessons: Livingston positively impacts running program


He started running when he was seven years old and finished an eight mile race at the age of eight.


“That was my introduction to running,” Coach Sean Livingston said.


Livingston coaches the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams. He has been coaching at RWU for the last 16 years. He started off coaching at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.


Livingston was introduced to running by his family. His siblings all ran at some point while he was growing up. His dad also coached him in high school. Once he graduated, he began running at Ithaca College in upstate New York. He received the head coaching position at RWU in 2004.


Coach Livingston is the coach of four programs at RWU. At times, he said it can be challenging.


“The behind scenes stuff that a head coach has to handle and deal with can be a lot, but then you are talking about four programs,” Livingston said. 

“You are dealing with a bunch of different things. Recruiting, scheduling, administrative stuff, on top of having to oversee 60 to 70 kids academically and athletically can be a lot.” 

Even though he admits the job can bring on a lot, he would not have it any other way.

“I really enjoy the four programs equally. They are all great in their own way, so I am happy to be the coach of four teams because that normally doesn’t happen very often,”  Livingston said.
Some of the runners he works with believe Livingston has truly helped shape the running program.

“He has been a huge leader and support to all the teams,” said junior runner Tyler Marchioni. 

“He knows exactly what he is doing because he has been doing this for years. He has helped guide everyone to each person’s individual success, which has helped to make the team successful.”


Lauren Donovan, a senior on the Women’s Cross Country team, believes he has helped with more than just running.


“He is the one that pushes us to work hard and dedicate a few hours a day to improving our running, but also [our] mindset[s],” Donovan said.

“He has taught me just a bunch of little things that may not be taught by other coaches,” Marchioni said. “He shows discipline in and out of practice through his coaching. It is pretty inspiring.”
Donovan said she has been taught to leave it all out on the course.
“If you cross that finish line and know that you could not have gone any faster or pushed any harder, Coach wants you to know that he is proud of you and you learn that you should be proud of yourself,” Donovan said.

Livingston does not have a set coach philosophy, but there are a few key things he believes are beneficial to running.


“Work ethic is really important — attitude, effort. We work hard, but we are smart,” Livingston said.


Livingston focuses on individualizing each practice for what each player needs. This is because he understands each runner is different.

“Depending on what you may or may not need, what event you may be running in, especially in track, he will personal[ize] the practice and workout to what will help you,” said Connor Hayden, a junior runner on the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field team.  
“It is not just one overarching run that you have to do. Practice is going to make you do what you need to in order to become a better runner.” 
As a result of these individualized practices, Marchioni believes Livingston has shaped the program in such a unique way.
“In track there are different groups. There are sprinters, distance runners, throwers, jumpers, field events. He has not only helped one group, even though he was primarily a distance runner,” Marchioni said.

Livingston is focused on working hard during practice, but he also makes sure runners have fun with the sport.

“The team knows the expectations. We will work hard but we will have fun with it and hopefully get better if they stay consistent with their training,” Livingston said. 
“If they put in the work and they enjoy being here every day, it will become a positive experience. That is all I want them to have.”   
The positive attitude Livingston sets for the team is the main reason why a lot of runners come back to compete every year.

“Coach Sean as well as my teammates are the reason why I have stuck with Cross Country for the past four years,” Donovan said. 

“Many student athletes end up quitting due to the poor relationship that they may have with their coach. However, this is the complete opposite for me. Having an encouraging and supportive coach for the past four years is what has not only made me improve as a running but as a person.” 


Senior Chris Chipchak, who runs on the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams, would agree. 

“I am the only senior male who has all four years under my belt on this team and he is the reason why,” Chipchak said.

Livingston reflected on why he enjoys coaching.

“I never get to graduate, that is the biggest thing!” he laughed.

“I have been running for a long time and I know it helped me with other things in life. Some of my best friends I’ve met though running, my wife I met though running, my daughters both run. It is not just about having to run to enjoy things, but I think it helps you get through other things.” 

His main hope is that runners leave RWU with their passion for running after they graduate and then choose to continue running. He said the sport is about more than just its results.


“It’s about relationships you make with coaches and teammates. I want [the team] to look back and have a positive experience and remember what they accomplished,” Livingston said.