Full name – Thomas Craig McPhail
High school - Chesterfield
College – Winthrop University
Strongest event – 5K
Personal bests, other stats – 4:23 mile/15:42 5K/26:20 8K
Hobbies – golf, reading
Interesting note: still play in summer pick-up basketball league.
Previous coverage: 2005 interview with Craig McPhail
Photo right, courtesy of Jack VanDeman
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make to compete at the college level?
Volume of training, from racing 5k’s to 8k’s involves longer long runs and more miles.
How would you rate your college running career and overall college experience?
I did not perform as well as I would have liked, however the friendships and life lessons learned are much more valuable.
Is there anything you can tell high school athletes to better prepare them for the college experience?
Time management skills are crucial. Balancing academics, athletics and social agendas can be difficult at first.
Do you plan to attend South Carolina for any outdoor meets this coming season?
Depends on my schedule, but I may watch our college team perform if we go to Spartanburg.
Have you been back to see a meet recently?
With my current job, I follow our college cross country team a good bit, so I have watched them compete several times this past fall.
What memories from competing in high school stand out the most?
There are a lot of great ones. Practices on the sand hills of Chesterfield County, van rides with teammates, and the success. I got mono after the first track meet of my senior year of track after running 4:30, 2:00 and 10:10. While it was frustrating, I used it as a challenge, and successfully defending the mile and two mile at the Class AA state meet.
What do you miss most about running in high school?
The training runs, the guys, van rides, competition, competitors, so many great things came of those years that have defined me to this day.
What piece of coaching or advice that someone gave you has been the biggest help?
Simple encouragement. Coach Jack Van Deman believed in me and pushed me to get better each day. That support enabled me to accomplish anything I wanted.
What are you doing in the present and hope to do in the future?
Currently, I am the Director of Athletics at Lees-McRae College (NCAA D-II) in Banner Elk, N.C. I coached cross country and track for 12 years here at the college.
How is the adjustment post-college?
For me, it has been a while, but I am still surrounded by it all and it has kept me young! Working with young people to challenge them to reach their potential has been very rewarding to me.