After spending the last 32 seasons as the head coach of the Navy women’s cross country program, Karen Boyle, has announced she will retire at the end of this academic year.
Boyle will remain at the Naval Academy as an instructor in the physical education department. She teaches kayaking, triathlon training, rock climbing and swimming while assisting in the physiology lab.
"The past 32 years of coaching at Navy have been an incredible ride,” Boyle said. "Beating Army and winning championships are always exhilarating; the lifelong relationships with my athletes, their families, and my fellow coaches, are heartfelt and endearing.
“Waking up every morning loving your profession is something we all dream about. I've lived it, coaching for 32 years and 96 seasons of cross country, indoor, and outdoor track,” Boyle added. “It's an absolute honor and privilege to teach and coach our student-athletes. As always, Go Navy, Beat Army.”
Boyle has guided the Navy women's cross country team since 1987 when the program competed in the NCAA Division II ranks. As part of her final campaign, Navy defeated Army in the annual Star Meet by a score of 24-31, while placing third at the Patriot League Championship on the strength of four top-30 individual results.
That success was nothing new to Boyle and her teams as Navy went 21-11 versus Army during her tenure and finished in the top-three at the Patriot League Championship in 12 of 16 years.
A four-time Patriot League Coach of the Year, Boyle earned that accolade following each of the team’s four league titles in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012.
"Coach Boyle's personal and professional contributions to competitive cross country at all levels, to our midshipmen, and to our community at large have been phenomenal," Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said.
"It is impossible to fully grasp the magnitude of her positive influence on so many lives over an unparalleled and distinguished career. She has been a leader for collegiate achievement in the sport and has been a role model for those at the Naval Academy. Year after year Karen's leadership emerged in influential and inspiring ways and she has proven to be one of the Academy's finest coaches and educators.”
With Boyle’s support, Navy student-athletes attained first team All-Patriot League honors 25 times from 2003 through 2018. Six women earned first team nods multiple times during that time, including Kelley Robinson on four occasions and both Jess Palacio and Emily Castro three times.
Boyle also aided her student-athletes to success on the national stage as seven runners competed at the NCAA Division I Championship under her tutelage — starting with Kerry O'Neill in 1992 and most recently with Annie-Norah Beveridge in 2012.
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Holding her team to high standards in the classroom, as well, Navy averaged 12.1 members named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll over the past 10 years.
At the beginning of her career, Boyle immediately found success with Navy as the team was a combined 20-2 over the 1987 through 1990 seasons. During Navy's last four years of Division II competition, Boyle and the Mids finished top-five at the NCAA DII Championship each and every year with five runners garnering All-America honors.
Boyle was named Eastern Region Coach of the Year three straight years, 1988, 1989 and 1990. Overall, she'll complete her career as Navy's cross country head coach with a record of 159-23, a winning percentage of 87.4 percent. In addition to her work with the cross country program, Boyle was leading member of Navy's track & field program with a focus on distance athletes.
As a coach with the track team in 1991, she guided Marty Shue to the 1,500-meter NCAA Indoor Championship title. Additionally, she helped Kim McGreevey (3,000-meter) and Jess Palacio (Mile) earn All-American accolades in 1995 and 2012, respectively.
The Navy women's track and field program has finished atop the standings at the Patriot League Championships on eight separate occasions with Boyle on staff, including a sweep of the indoor and outdoor titles during this past 2019 season.
"I want to thank Karen for her commitment to the program," said Jamie Cook, Director of Navy Track and Field. "She’s had a fantastic career and has impacted so many lives during her 32 years as a coach and mentor. Her teams have been successful on and off the field as her student-athletes are now some of our nation's finest leaders.
Boyle is also a tenured professor in the Naval Academy's physical education department. She has served as the president of the NCAA Division I Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association (1999-2001), as well as a committee member on the USA Track & Field Coaching Education Board and the United States Track Coaches Association Long Distance Advisory Board.