Coaching Staff

Westmont Highlights
Inducted into NAIA Cross Country Hall of Fame in 1999
Named NAIA Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1995
NAIA Coach of Character Award Winner in 2015
16 GSAC Cross Country Championships
24 Cross Country All-Americans
75 Cross Country NAIA Scholar-Athletes
Three-time GSAC CC Coach of the Year


Head Cross Country Coach

E-Mail Coach Smelley

What the athletes say…

"There are many knowledgeable coaches, but what impresses me most is that Russell not only has this incredible knowledge and experience, but he also has the ability to relate to each individual team member on a personal level. He knows us as runners, but more importantly, he takes the time to get to know the true person inside."

"Russell has had a big impact on my life in college. He welcomed me to the Westmont community. He encourages his team to persevere in all aspects of life, and be the absolute best that they can be."

"Even when we weren’t performing at our best, Russell looked to our potential and knew we could do better."


Coach Russell Smelley has served as the head coach in cross country and track and field at Westmont since his arrival in 1979. His tenure has produced numerous NAIA All-Americans and NAIA All-American Scholar-Athletes in both cross country and track and field.

Smelley guided the women’s cross country team to national prominence and was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1995. His men’s and women’s cross country teams have won 16 conference titles. Smelley was inducted into the NAIA Cross Country Hall of Fame in November of 1999. Smelley has also served as the President of the NAIA Cross Country Coaches Association.

Asked to describe himself as a coach, Smelley replied, "Hopefully I am a philosophically grounded, kinesiology based coach so that there is reason and facts to support my coaching decisions. I seek to be a teacher who can convey hope and concern for the student-athlete as a person in all aspects of their lives."

The Westmont track and field teams have also been successful, with at least one athlete claiming NAIA All-American honors in 28 of the last 31 years, including 23 of the past 24 years. The men’s team has claimed four GSAC Championships and the women earned their first GSAC Championship this past season (2015).

"I would like athletes to be able to compete at a higher level than they have before," continued Smelley. "In the four years they are at Westmont, I would like to see student-athletes maturing and coming to know themselves more realistically. I hope to challenge them to be culturally different in their discipline and in the affections, and to be emotionally healthy, strong, resilient individuals who can follow their dreams. By culturally different, I mean different than the milieu of their peer group – not tied to what their generation considers successes or important."

Besides his coaching duties, Smelley is a tenured professor in the Kinesiology Department. His classroom work earned him the distinction of being named "Teacher of the Year" in 1988 and again in 2002. Coach Smelley carries that quality of teaching over to his work with the Westmont cross country and track and field teams. He takes special pride in developing the potential of each individual athlete academically, athletically, and spiritually.

"Ultimately, it is important to help the students improve their self-image and confidence in order to enable them to become more self-reliant and thus reach their greatest potential," says Smelley. "This is development of the mind, body and spirit and it produces outstanding people who can succeed in academics, athletics and life."

Prior to coming to Westmont, Smelley earned a BA degree in English and Physical Education, and an MEd in Education at the University of Richmond where he was an All-American middle distance runner for the Spiders. He spent two years serving as head women’s cross country and track and field coach at Richmond, and as assistant men’s coach.

Smelley and his wife Allison are the parents of Travis, who attends Westmont, and of Alyssa who lost her battle with a brain tumor on July 4, 2006 at the age of 15.



Assistant Coach

A 2008 alumna of Westmont, Lindsey Connolly is entering her seventh year as an assistant coach for the Warrior Cross Country and Track and Field teams. Connolly, an NAIA All-American in the 3,000 meter race walk, seeks to help each student-athlete reach their potential.

"I want each individual to have personal successs in their running," said Connolly. "Each race is a chance for the athletes to challenge themselves and improve. All team members have the opportunity for persoanl growth while working towards a common team goal. It is my desire to work with individual athletes to accomplish their goals and discover how they can impact the Westmont Cross Country and Track and Field teams."

As a recent graduate, Connolly believes she brings an important persepective to the coaching staff.

"I think that I have a unique position on the coaching staff because I was also on the team not too long ago," noted Connolly. "I can bridge the gap between athlete and coach because I understand where both sides are coming from. I hope I can use what I learned while on the team to help the current athletes accomplish their goals and reach their potential."

"Lindsey Connolly has proven herself to be an able assistant coach by patiently and dutifully taking care of the myriad of details necessary for a team’s success," said Smelley, "She is knowledgeable about the distance training program and she quietly observes the traits of individual athletes in order to best encourage and coach them. She is a good advisor on training, travel arrangements, athlete’s needs and anticipating problems."

"I really enjoyed my time on the cross country and track teams while at Westmont and want to continue to be a part of the future of Westmont Cross Country and Track and Field. The coaching staff and athletes are quality people that I enjoy working and being with. I’m thankful for the opportunity to experience the coaching side of running and to learn more about running tactics and planning workouts."

A native of Santa Barbara County, Connolly grew up in Carpinteria and competed for Carpinteria High School.

In addition, Connolly has teamed up with Rebecca Smith to open an elementary school (K-6) in Mirebalais, Haiti. Their non-profit organization, Destined for Grace, is funded through two thrift stores operating in Carpinteria and Goleta.

"Our mission is to raise the Haitian children above the pain and suffereing that their country endures and provide for them a future of love, hope and faith," said Connolly.