Bruner joined the Mount Holyoke staff as the Lyons Assistant Cross Country coach in August of 2018, bringing 30 years of experience as an athlete, coach, and mentor.
He competed in Cross Country and Track & Field (steeplechase and 1500M) at Swarthmore College. Since then, he’s been an avid citizen racer, boasting podium finishes in races from one mile up to half marathons. His twelve marathon finishes include eleven Boston Marathon qualifiers (his first marathon was a real learning experience), with a personal best of 2:43:49.
After graduating from Swarthmore, Bruner spent over a decade working in the outdoor industry, leading canoeing and backpacking trips throughout North America. He earned an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, where, among other things, he co-founded the Darden Running Club and received the Kevin Bewley Memorial Award for community leadership and academic excellence. His degree and interest led him to work for national parks in Alaska, Madagascar, and Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park), with a focus on strategic planning and implementation.
While living in Bozeman, Montana, he owned a business selling green building materials, taught at Montana State University, and competed in running races throughout the state. In 2010, he earned “All Montana” status at the annual Montana Cup cross country race. During a year sabbatical in Oaxaca, Mexico, Steve trained with and coached Leah Frost, who went on to compete in the 2016 Women’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Bruner moved to Amherst in the summer of 2014, when his wife, Leah Schmalzbauer, assumed a faculty position in Sociology/American Studies at Amherst College. Soon after arriving in Amherst, he joined the Springfield Harriers and got acquainted with the New England running scene. During the 2017-18 academic year, he volunteered with the Amherst College Cross Country and Track & Field teams, which eventually led to his hiring at Mount Holyoke College.
When Bruner isn’t coaching, he is a stay-at-home dad who enjoys working with his hands, cooking, reading and running trails with his family’s Australian Shepherd. The couple’s two children attend elementary school in Amherst. Their 10-year-old daughter is a competitive swimmer, and their 12-year-old son is an avid cross-country skier and soccer player.
In addition to coaching the Lyons, Bruner is the Head Coach of the Amherst Regional High School Nordic Ski Team. Suffice it to say that when the cross country season ends, he will be hoping for snow!