Amanda "AJ" Russell - Founder and Head Coach
AJ is a former architect; elite amateur long course triathlete; and USA Triathlon, USA Track&Field, USA Cycling certified coach. Every year she competed she podium finished nearly every race, qualified for and competed at the 70.3 World Championships, and was All-American. Prior to starting Verge she was a personal coach for competitive runners and triathletes. She also shared her passion by volunteer coaching for a girls running club, college triathlon team, and women's beginner triathlon program. She loves now working with the coolest humans on the planet - a vision since childhood.
AJ has lived with many of the same challenges as those with diagnosed developmental disorders and co-occurring physical and mental health issues; she endlessly strives to grow, and either overcome or find balance. Misunderstood and solo in the game throughout her life, running has always been her vehicle to navigating, understanding, adjusting, and dealing with the anxieties of living in the world around her. She also found that being involved in sport - running on her school cross country and track teams, then later, in her 30's, training and racing triathlon - was a way she was able to connect socially.
AJ knows and believes in the power of fitness, running, and sport, as well as exposure to and opportunities to experience new or challenging things. She wants to bring running to those who could benefit from it most, yet have the least access to it, and encourage them to make it a regular part of their lives. Since childhood she has had a vision of starting a running program for "everyone" that supports those with social, communication, mental, emotional, and physical challenges; that gives them a place where they can feel they belong and be equally challenged; and that can also serve as a stepping stone for some to go on to school/mainstream sports.
AJ is always groovin' to music - funk, soul, hiphop, jazz, classical, pop, rock, and anything else that makes her groove. She still runs, rides, and swims, and loves to hike the Whites (20+ mile solo day hikes are her favorite).
Matt Russell - Assists at all locations
Matt fills in wherever needed at practices, either coaching or communicating with parents. He is AJ's husband, moral support champion, and the Great Communicator when speech eludes her. He's a nerdy, creative audio engineer, drummer, Celtics fan, and silly guy. He took up running in 2013 so has a fresh perspective of what it takes to become a runner in addition to years of listening to AJ (he calls her Monkey) talking about the art and science of her own training and coaching. Matt is a natural teacher of anything he has knowledge of.
Other coaches help out occasionally, and parents and volunteers fill in when needed.
We are always in need of more coaches! Contact us if you'd like to coach at any of our locations.