A New Chapter for S.C. Track and Field Coach Chris Greene

Distance events are nothing new to Chris Greene.

The former Eau Claire standout turned coach was all too familiar with them competing in mostly the 800-meter races for the Shamrocks. He also dipped his toes in the 1,600 and 3,200 during his high school career.

Not only was Greene familiar with distance running, but he was also pretty good at it, too, helping the team win a team state title, setting several school records and going on to compete collegiately and nationally.

Video: Chris Greene talks with MileSplit SC in June

Fast forward almost 20 years and Greene is still taking on distance events but this time in a whole different way. This time it's as a member of the United States Army.

Green has been enlisted for the past 13 years. He is an E-6 Staff Sergeant and will be deployed to Africa for one year. He said there are always mixed feelings when leaving for deployment.

"Yes, I'm ready because I made a commitment to the military and it's part of the duty," Greene said this summer. "No, I'm not ready because I leave for a year and I'll be away from family and the track and field world."

Greene is the current track and field coach at his alma mater and the Class 2A SCTCCCA vice president. He attended the coaches convention last month as part of his final duty before leaving for training from July 31 to August 14 and then again August 15-30 at Fort Bliss in Texas. Greene told MileSplit S.C. his deployment is Sunday, Sept. 3.

This is his second go round coaching at Eau Claire with the first as a volunteer beginning in 2007. He then helped guide the girls team to their first-ever state championship as an assistant coach in 2009 and runner-up finish in 2010. He was then at Keenan for a stint before coming back to Eau Claire in 2018.

Greene said that his decision to join the military was partly due to his time spent in ROTC in high school. The other part was due to a much larger reason.

"I was around that background from being in ROTC, but I really didn't want the military right away," he said. "It was (a few years) after 9/11, and the pay was $50,000 a year. I just didn't want to be putting my life on the line for $50,000. Then I met my now wife, and she became pregnant. We needed benefits, and it gave me a new sense of purpose. I enlisted in 2010."

Greene's son is now 13 years old and said that he's becoming more aware that the clock is ticking before time to leave.

"He knows I'm getting ready to leave but knows it's part of the duty," Greene said. "He's getting where he wants to hang out with me a little more. If I'm going somewhere, he'll say 'Hey Dad, can I go too?'"

The Army has allowed Greene to continue his education in college and earn two degrees, including a Bachelor's in Psychology and Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He added that the military has also given him an added perspective on life.

"The largest thing that the military has done for me is an appreciation for culture and diversity," Greene said. "We're all one race. I don't see color. In the military, when you put on a uniform, it's the same thing. I wasn't ready for how it was going to impact me, and I've also gotten to experience things that I've never gotten to experience."

Greene said that while the military has changed his life, he knows it's not made for everyone. He just wants to help as many young people succeed in wherever life takes them.

"I don't push any kid to go into the military or college," he said. "You always hear that you have to go to college or choose the military, and in the black culture it's turn 18 and get a job. If you push young people a little too fast, that could have actually been a teaching lesson for you instead. My goal is to help them navigate life and make impactful decisions for themselves."