New Coach Series: Meet River Bluff’s Cameron Starr

Cameron Starr talks about coming to South Carolina as a new coach after stints in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

How long have you been coaching? 23 years
River Bluff High School

Did you compete in the sport at high school and/or college level? Please describe if so and experiences. Did this lead you to coaching?
I grew up in Pennsylvania and ran Cross Country and Track in High School and in College at Kutztown University. My fourth grade teacher was my high school coach and he had a huge impact on me. I taught first grade when I began teaching and one of my goals was to one day coach kids that I taught in elementary school. I've been fortunate enough to have had coached more than 10 of my former 1st graders.

What made you start coaching in South Carolina? 
Coach Hardin, River Bluff's Athletic Director and Football Coach, and I had previously coached in the same conference in North Carolina. He called about an opening and I was at a point in my career where I was ready for a new challenge. After my wife and I visited the school and saw the campus and the academic opportunities for our kids, we decided to make the move.

AAAAA track and field rankings | AAAAA cross country rankings

Where and how long did you coach before?
I have coached at Kutztown High School (three years), Weddington High School (four years), and Marvin Ridge High School (12 years).

How has the transition been for you? 
There have definitely been some challenges, more due to COVID than anything else. But for the most part, I feel that last year we had a very successful season with our boys finishing third at the State Championship. We've worked really hard at developing a championship culture and our athletes have really bought in.

Have you met other coaches in the state? Please explain the experience.
I've met a few coaches and have really enjoyed, and appreciated, the positivity of SCTCCCA. I look forward to getting more involved.

What areas of focus do you have this season for track and field?
Depth across all event areas is a huge focus. I'm a firm believer in having a well rounded program in all event areas. Another goal is to continue to advance our women's team. Last year we were very young and inexperienced. This year we have a lot more girls out for the team and a lot of returners have worked really hard in the off season.

I think there are a ton of opportunities for South Carolina high school athletes to compete on the collegiate level in state. If you love what you do, go after it!

Do you coach other sports? Please mention the sport and how long?
I also coach cross country (20 years).

How important has a mentor been for you in the sport as a coach and athlete? Please explain your mentor relationship.
I've been fortunate to have several great mentors. First and foremost is Greg Yiengst, my High School Coach. Brian Mondschein, my college coach, was extremely influential at the beginning of my career. He really helped my understand how to plan and position workouts. I also consider Coach Henes and Coach Geiger of N.C. State as mentors. I've gone to cross country camp with them for 12 years and have learned a lot.

What's your coaching philosophy?
In a sport where it's easy to focus on the individual, I believe that the TEAM has to come first. I believe in focusing on the process, the effort, and the growth. When you focus on those three things, everyone can shine and value the results that they get.

Do you have team leaders? Please explain this and how it works.
I've shied away from having captains. Instead we focus on developing leaders and stress that everyone, regardless of ability or team ranking, can be a leader. Throughout the season we highlight athletes that step up as leaders and encourage everyone to lead.

What goals do you have this season?
My two main goals for the season are to have more depth across all event areas and have more state qualifiers than we did last year.

Why do you coach from the start and how old were you?
My high school did a lot with our youth feeder programs and my brother is 11 years younger than me so I think I developed a passion for coaching early on.

What meets are you looking to have your team be ready for this year?
We plan for two meets, the Region Championship and State Championship.

How many athletes are on your team?
We currently have 110+ athletes signed up for the team.

What would you like to see happen in the sport in South Carolina? Please explain.
I'd like to see times/marks somehow factor into the qualifying process. Our sport is about time, distance, height, and competition. If we can find a way to incorporate qualifying marks, whether that's to get into the Region Championship, our to use as a qualify standard for the Upper/Lower State Championship, I think you will see that our athletes will rise to the occasion. This will create marks for the athletes to aim for from the start of the season. I'd also like to see the 4x200-meter relay added to our events and the order of events in line with the NFHS guidelines.

What's your motivation for this season and the future?
Relationships and winning. There's nothing better than standing at the top of the podium at the end of the season with athletes that you care about.

What do you think of the indoor opportunities in the state?
I think that if we truly want to grow as a sport and compete on a national level we have to have an indoor season. North Carolina had an indoor season for a long time. But when JDL Fast Track opened up and made indoor track more accessible, the overall marks and depth in North Carolina skyrocketed. The timing is not a coincidence. If you give the athletes an opportunity to compete, they will rise to the occasion.

What do you tell athletes about college track and field and the recruiting process? What's this process like for you as a coach?
To be a college athlete you have to love the lifestyle, not the status of being a college athlete. I tell my athletes to fill out the online information form for the schools that they are considering. Two weeks after the form is submitted, follow up with a personal email to the coach. That shows a genuine interest and hopefully opens up a line of communication. From there, I'll call and talk with the coach. I think there are a ton of opportunities for South Carolina high school athletes to compete on the collegiate level in state. If you love what you do, go after it!