Coaches Corner with Steve Oury

8/2/2021 / Posted by Staff

1. Give us a background of how you got into coaching XC and/or Track & Field. I was a walkon on the cross country and track team at the University of Arkansas. I started off college as a business major but quickly figured out that it wasn't for me. I was riding with Coach John McDonnell and some of the other guys on the team in a van to a cross country meet in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1986 when it struck me that Coach McDonnell had a heck of a job. I didn't have a clue just how hard he worked to be as successful as he was, but I knew that being able to work with young people and have a positive impact on them while getting to stay involved with track and cross country sounded very appealing. That's the first time I really thought about the idea of becoming a coach. I switched my major to education the following semester. My first coaching experience was as a Graduate Assistant for cross country and track at Henderson State University in 1990-1992. After grad school I spent a couple of years working with my Dad, but then I figured I'd better use my degree and got back into coaching and teaching. While I did coach basketball for a few years at Oak Grove High School (along with cross country and track), it was always my goal to be able to focus only on cross country and track at the high school level. When I interviewed for the job at Bryant I said it was my dream job, and all these years later I still believe that. 2. What inspires you to continue coaching the sport? The relationships with the kids are what keep me going. I really enjoy helping kids reach their goals and getting to know them. I'm always grateful to those athletes who come back to visit and keep in touch over the years after they have graduated high school. Of course the competitive aspect is fun as well, but it's not what keeps me going as much as the day to day privilege of getting to coach and teach. Most days it doesn't feel like work. 3. Give us a memory that has stuck with you through the years. Hard to pick just one. My experience as a Graduate Assistant at Henderson State helped to validate the decision I made to become a teacher and a coach. The 1990 Henderson Cross Country team won the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference Championship, which broke Harding's 20 year winning streak. That was a very fun learning experience, and I'm very grateful to Dr. Woody Jolley for allowing me to be his graduate assistant. Starting a cross country program at Oak Grove High School in the 90's was a lot of fun. That was back when I could still train with the kids. Can't do that Also, coming to Bryant was such a blessing, as Danny Westbrook had built a great program through the years and I was very lucky to coach with him until he retired. 4. What differences have you seen in the program since you've been HC? Bryant High School has grown quite a bit since I arrived in 2003. In 2003 we could take all of our cross country athletes in grades 8-12 on one bus to a meet. We soon added 7th grade cross country and a new middle school. It wasn't long before we were taking 3 or 4 buses and had over 200 kids in the program. We now have 7 cross country coaches spread over 4 campuses. In boys track, we used to be known primarily as a distance school, but then we have started to have success across the board in track and field. It took several years until we actually won a track meet on the boys side. It took a few more before we could start looking at the possibility of winning a conference or state championship. Bryant had never won a conference meet in boys track until 2015, so it was a long haul to get to the point where we had the athletes in all of the event groups who could give us a chance to win. We have been blessed to have some really talented, hard-working athletes along the way. 5. What's your take on the direction of High School XC and/or Track & Field in Arkansas? I believe XC and track are very healthy in the state, but there are ways it could be better (Meet of Champs on Wednesday instead of Saturday; either eliminating prelims in one day conference and state meets, or allowing multi-day meets). The population explosion in Northwest Arkansas has definitely had an impact. I'm seeing the most depth of quality distance running in the state that I think we've ever had. We have had some of the best sprinters in state history in the last few years. We are still behind some other states in the area, but we are closing the gap. We still lose some athletes who could be outstanding in our sport because of specialization, whether it be off-season football or AAU basketball, but that is true across the nation. Career Highlights: Championships Boys Track and Field 7A State Champions - 2015 7A Central Conference Champions - 2015, 2017 6A Central Conference Champions - 2021 Boys Cross Country 5A Central Conference Champions - 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 7A Central Conference Champions - 2014 Arkansas Vs. Oklahoma All-Star Boys Coach - 2004-present Individual Championships and Awards 37 State Champion Individuals or relay teams coached (including State indoor, State Meet, and Meet of Champions.) 2 athletes who won National Championships (thanks to Morry Sanders!) Spencer McCorkel - Nike Outdoor National Champion in the pole vault - 2007 Jason Pelletier - NIke Indoor National Champion in the pole vault - 2008 Spencer McCorkel won the Gatorade Outstanding Boys Track Athlete for the state of Arkansas in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Jason Pelletier won the same award in 2008. John Winn was named the Arkansas Academic Athlete of the Year by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in 2015. Athlete Accomplishments: High School - 5A State Champion - 3200 meter run - 1983; 4A State Champion - 1600 meter run and 3200 meter run - 1985; All-State in Cross Country in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Placed 3rd in the 10,000 meter road race at The Athletics Congress National Championships in Durham, North Carolina in 1983. Set the school record in the 3200 meter run (9:32.9) and tied the school record in the 800 meter run (1:56.4) at NLR Northeast HS. College - I was a squad member of the Arkansas Razorbacks team that won the NCAA Championship in Cross Country in 1987. Post-college - I was named the Road Runners Clubs of America Male Runner of the Year for Arkansas in 2000. Coaching Accomplishments: See above...also won the Arkansas Democrat Gazette Arkansas All-Preps Track Coach of the Year in 2015. Years Coaching - 29 (including the 2 years at Henderson State).

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