Devon Prep coach Sanborn surpasses 100 wins


In the past 16 years at Devon Prep Sanborn’s cross country teams have won six District I championships, two Southern Chester County League (SCCL) championships and four SCCL National Division championships. Two of his teams were top five state finalists, and he has had two runners win three medals on the state level. In addition he’s had three perfect 8-0 seasons and 28 shutouts.

His track and field record at Devon includes six individual District I champions, three individual state medalists and countless broken school records. Sanborn was also named the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) Cross Country Coach of the year in 2011.

Sanborn believes that although the coaching staff presents motivation and training knowledge to the athlete, running is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. In order to succeed as a team each individual has to respond to the exact same challenges as every other member of the team.

“No individual has ever won a cross country meet alone. No matter how fast they run, their place and six other places of their team members count for the score. Not their times,’ he said.

Over the years Sanborn has coached dozens of runners, and his knowledge of the sport and style of coaching has helped many of these young athletes both on and off the track, such as Dave Evans, Devon Prep Class of 2008 alumnus and the school’s assistant cross country coach.

“He’s had a priceless impact on my life and countless others,’ said Evans, who also teaches in Devon Prep’s Middle School and coaches track and field. “He challenges his athletes to become students of the sport and push beyond their known physical and emotional boundaries. It’s a process that has developed the passion and ambition I have in my life.’

Tom Seykora, Devon Prep Class of 2013, credits Sanborn with helping him choose his event in track: “Coach Sanborn said to me my freshman year, ‘ I see you as a miler.’ I did pretty well so I stuck with it. I’ve thought of myself as a miler since then.’

Seykora, who earned a silver medal in the 1,600-meter run at the PIAA State Track & Field Championships in his senior year, said, “He’s an unbelievable coach. He came up to watch the state finals, and having him there made it even more memorable.’

Sanborn plans to retire from coaching soon. He would like to work with animals and perhaps do more writing in history (two more of his passions). But The Delaware County native will never forget the many young people he has coached and connected with over the years.

“Each runner can be, and for the most part is, a very special person in my heart and mind,’ he said. “We share that association of having had to produce under similar circumstances of stress and duress and in so doing develop a common bond that can never be broken.’

t’s been said that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life.

If that’s true, then Devon Prep cross country coach and faculty member Paul Sanborn of Berwyn hasn’t worked in years.

And if doing what you love helps you do it well — then Sanborn is a prime example of that as well, as he recently won his 100th cross country dual meet as Devon Prep’s coach. His current record at Devon Prep is 101-31.

Sanborn said, “Dual meets are not the end-all of cross country or track. They are meant to be stepping stones to the championship meets at the end of the season,’ he explained. “What I am most proud of is that we have had 16 of 16 seasons in a row where we won more than we lost. That shows a quality of program that can be noticed and respected.’

Sanborn came to Devon Prep in 1999 as a history teacher, information specialist and track and cross country coach, but his experience with running began long before that. He ran while a student at Devon Prep, winning the individual mile title in the Pennsylvania Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association (PCIAA) State Championship Track Meet in 1964, and also while a student at Villanova University, where he was a member of the National NCAA Cross Country Championship Team in 1966.

He went on to coach track and cross country at Springfield High School in Delaware County for nine years before returning to Devon Prep. His overall record in cross country is 144-36. He personally has competed in cross country races for 52 years.

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