Bill Kenley

Twice voted the most influential and inspiring teacher in his high school, Bill Kenley knows what makes a young adult audience tick. Kenley’s debut novel, High School Runner (Freshman), is his fictional love letter to high-school cross-country. Kenley is an award-winning high school and college-level creative writing teacher, a three-time Boston marathoner with a 2:47 marathon personal best, and has a 50-miler under his belt.


M eet Sherman Leopold Kindle, aka K1, a ninth grader beginning his high school journey as a talented but apprehensive member of the cross-country team. Over the course of the season, he learns to rise to the challenge of the work through self-discipline, teamwork, and most importantly, empathy.

Sherman’s often hilarious, sometimes pathetic, and ultimately inspiring coach mentors all of the runners—whether veteran or rookie, braggart or slacker, star or dud—in less-than-conventional fashion. Despite his life falling apart, Coach Viddstein molds his team and leads them to their greatest success.

Written in the warm, nostalgic style of John L. Parker, Jr.’s classic Once a Runner, this novel is about the value of self-discipline and training, and how athletic skills strengthen character. As Sherman learns to conquer his own limitations, he discovers the lessons that Coach Viddstein instills in him are essential to understanding his conflicted feelings for his family, teammates, classmates, and the grueling sport that has chosen him.

High School Runner (Freshman) demonstrates that while individual races may be won or lost, the real sense of triumph comes from knowing how to pace oneself in this mad dash we call life.