December 17, 2021 – Dover, NH – On Friday, Portsmouth Christian Academy Alumna, Liza Corso ’21, surprised high school cross country coach, and longtime PCA staff member, Mike Shevenell, during the school’s weekly chapel service, with a Coaches Medal given to Paralympic medalists to be presented to their personal coaches and trainers.
Corso, a decorated high school athlete with 4 All-State selections for Cross Country, 2 All-State selections for Track, a 4-year Team MVP, 3-year Captain, and holds school records in the 800m, 1600m, 3200m, 1000m, 1500m, and 3000m, returned to her alma-mater on break from college, where she attends and runs cross country at the NCAA Division I level for Lipscomb University in Lipscomb, Tennessee. This past August, Corso flew to Tokyo to take part in the Summer Paralympics as a member of the United States Paralympic Team. After placing in the top 4 in her heat, Corso moved on to run in the 1600m Finals, where she set a personal record and took home the silver medal.
Coach Shevenell, a 25-year member of the PCA Community and head coach of cross country and track, had been told he’d be introducing Liza as PCA’s chapel speaker. What Mike didn’t know is that, at the end of her message, she would turn it back over on Mike, surprising him with his own Paralympic Silver Medal.
“Coach Shev has always been there supporting me and encouraging me to push beyond my limits. I wouldn’t have this medal without him. He doesn’t know this, but I’m actually here to give him one of his own.”, said Liza.
With tears in his eyes, Mike walked up to the front of the school assembly, and joyfully outstretched his arms as Liza placed the medal over his head.
“It was such an honor and surprise to be recognized by Liza in this way. Coaching Liza has undoubtedly been one of the highlights of my 27-year coaching career.”, said Shevenell. “Watching her run Cross Country was an inspiration to me as she was able to run, lead and win races – all while having a low vision condition. It is hard for me to imagine the courage that took. But, she did it with such skill and grace, I often forgot the challenges she was overcoming on a daily basis. In all our years together, there were very few times when I was reminded that she really doesn’t see everything the way the rest of us do.”