Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, cross-country and track were very popular sports in St. Clair County. All the schools had very strong programs.
State titles were won at Ashville under coach Raymond Farmer and at Springville under coach Jim Barnes. There were several state runner-up titles, as well.
When current St. Clair County High School principal Brian Terry was a student at Springville High, he won five individual state titles. Terry later became the track coach at Leeds, and he led the Green Wave program to 12 state titles – 10 boys and 2 girls. They also won 10 state runner-up titles.
Terry said it is time for the county to regrow the sport, especially in cross-country.
A couple of years ago, school officials started a nature trail with the help of a grant.
“We knew then it would serve as a dual purpose,” Terry said. “It would serve as a nature trail and a cross-country course.”
“Coach Mason Dye came to SCCHS last year, and he talked about having a running camp,” Terry added. “It is such a wonderful sport in the fall for kids who traditionally do not participate in the big sports like football and volleyball. This is for the kids who would normally be left out of a sport during this time of season.”
Terry said although running is an individual sport, it can be a great team sport.
“These kids who compete with each other and against each other develop lifelong friendships,” he said. “I have lifelong friends through track and field, and my coaching experience.”
Terry said cross-country is a feeder sport for all the other sports.
“There is not a sport that I can think of that running does not benefit,” Terry said. “Running is also something you can do in some capacity of your life. We even have parents who come out in the mornings and run with them. You want to see it build a running culture in the community.”
Terry said that’s important because there is such an emphasis on childhood obesity, as well as health and conditioning.
“A 3.15 mile (5,000 meters) nature trail/running trail is a wonderful thing to have available to people,” Terry said. “This is something I want to see happen across our district. Ours here is completely grass and trails. It goes through the woods and by the lake. It lets you see nature and wildlife. This wonderful campus we have needs to be utilized in every aspect.”
Dye said it is unbelievable to have a setup like this.
“It is by far the best one I have ever seen,” Dye said. “There is not a school in the entire state that has a facility like this one.”
Logan Cornutt, indoor/outdoor track coach at Ashville High, said this is really a top-notch course to run on.
“This is going to help the county as a whole,” Cornutt said. “It’s going to get the entire county involved in cross-country and running in general.”
One parent who is taking advantage of the trail is Liza Mathews.
“I think this course is great and awesome,” Mathews said. “It’s great for the community, and we need more parents involved. It’s a great place where runners from all across the county can come and run.”
Terry said there has been so much help and support by the parents.
“We have it to a point where it is really shaping up and coming together,” Terry said. “Just last week, we had the cross-country head coaches from Pelham and Mountain Brook to come out and walk the course with us. They were very impressed with what it is and what it will become down the road.”