Michael Gross is entering his second year of coaching cross country at Auburn Montgomery. After originally graduating from AUM with a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Education in physical education, he now has the opportunity to build a cross country program at his alma mater.
Gross was a distance runner in high school and continues to run for fitness and fun. For the past few years, he has been on a quest to run a marathon in every state, and he is closing in on that accomplishment. He has also completed ultra-marathons of 40 miles and 50 miles.
Gross began his teaching career at Brewbaker Primary/Intermediate Schools before returning to AUM as a Teacher-in-Residence in 2004. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Physical Education at Auburn Montgomery to go along with his coaching duties. As a Physical Education Specialist, he had the opportunity to coach children and adolescences in the area of distance running at the public school level. He has also coached adults as a volunteer with the Leukemia Society's Team-In-Training program, which helps prepare individuals to run marathons and half-marathons. In 2010, Gross was selected as the Hometown Hero by the Thunderbirds for his work in helping children understand and develop healthy lifestyle choices. His reward was a flight in a Thunderbird F-16.
In the process of developing a new cross country program, Gross has set about to recruit athletes based on character, academics and athleticism, in that order. His philosophy is that character is the only thing that people truly possess and cannot be taken away. Academics are second because the degree that each of his athletes earns will guide their profession, not their running. And athleticism is last, because it is his job to make his runners better.
After a slow start to the 2011 season, each team showed a steady improvement throughout the year. Entering the second season of cross country, Gross is excited about the potential of each of the teams. Losing six males and one female from the inaugural teams, he has replaced those athletes with young men and women who will look to help strengthen the program for years to come.
Gross grew up in Tallassee, Ala. In addition to his degrees from AUM, he also holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in physical education from Auburn University. Gross is married to the former Marcilla Ann Cooper.