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Coaches Blog

Meet New Coach Maria Netherland!

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

If the name Maria Netherland looks familiar, it's because she's been a Team MPI athlete this season, working with Coach Mark Sortino. She's been on the racing calendar and we've featured a few of her humorous post-workout comments. Maria is a West Point graduate and Army veteran and Coach Mark is a US Naval Academy graduate and Navy veteran, and we understand there's been a lot of fun back-and-forth there! Making it even more interesting is that Maria has been a USAT Level I Coach since 2012 (pursuing Level II this fall) and an NASM certified personal trainer since 2010. Coaches benefit from coaches too! (See all her credentials on her bio page.)

The very thing that led her to seek a new perspective with Coach Mark is the very thing that makes her a natural fit for the collaborative Team MPI Coaching staff.

We welcome Coach Maria of Littleton, Colorado and would like to share a bit about her.

Sporting background

Coach Maria was a springboard diver (1m & 3m) from ages 8 to 19. In fact, she was recruited to dive for West Point, which she did for one season before fully devoting herself to academics.

She was "always a runner" and Coach Maria recounted many Thanksgiving races where she and her father would win their age groups - along with a turkey for dinner! Both of her parents were teachers and active.

Career background

With a degree in Management/Systems Engineering (and later an MBA), and upon exiting the military (where she used to jump out of airplanes) she entered the corporate world where she was a Six Sigma Black Belt. Nope, no karate kicks there, it means she was certified in particular methods of process improvement. That approach comes in handy as a coach!

Enter Triathlon

Fast forward to a time when Coach Maria and her husband found themselves overweight and out of shape. They set a goal of an IRONMAN and in 2008, Maria completed her first triathlon. In 2010 at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, she had a bike crash that knocked her out, broke her helmet, and left her badly injured with broken ribs. She was unable to return to work at that time. She put her recently acquired personal training certification into practice and began working one-on-one with clients and as a spin instructor. More and more of them asked her about triathlon so she added that certification and has never looked back!

In many ways, she says the accident was "the best thing that could have happened" to her at that moment. It allows her to work with people who are choosing to train.


I asked Coach Maria how athletes she coaches would describe her. "Always available, a good listener, and a really good planner." She references the order of operations, and describes the importance of a solid plan - for changing race distances, for race prep, for race week. That's what allows an athlete to show up on race day as relaxed as possible.

She has coached an athlete from couch to IRONMAN (not advised, but was successful) and has two athletes currently training (independently and coincidentally) for IRONMAN Ireland. She's ready to help new triathletes and those already in the sport to reach for new goals.

Here's what one athlete posted just this week about Coach Maria:

"I have to shout to my coach, Maria Netherland. Without her plan and her push, Days like today wouldn’t be possible. She’s seen me through so many really rough races. It was a real treat to get to talk to her with joy on my voice instead of disappointment after I finished. Also, her validation of my race today [IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City] meant a lot. Thank you coach, for pushing me to be better and stay on track! I truly appreciate you so much." ~ Kierstyn Hibner


Maria races all distance through IRONMAN (FL and CDA), but her personal favorite is the 70.3 distance. She's eyeing some ultrarunning opportunities too for 2019.

Things she enjoys...

Coach Maria loves international races and travel and would like to race in Cuba. She snowbirds in Florida so it's not that far. She also likes to spin her own yarn and knit scarves using fibers from her mother-in-law's alpaca farm.

Interested in working with Coach Maria? Contact her at

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