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Griffin teaches life lessons he’s learned through his track club

Most Texans may know Cedric Griffin as a cornerback for the 2005 national champion Texas Longhorns that defeated the University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl. Griffin was part of the 2001 recruiting class ranked No. 1 in the country.

What people may not know is that Griffin, who is an assistant track coach for Faith Academy of Marble Falls this spring, credits much of his play-making ability on the football field to the time he spent on the track long before he signed his National Letter of Intent to Texas. That’s why he started the North Shore Stars Track Club.

“It’s the first sport I participated in,” he said. “It gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of discipline. I want to give the same traits to the other kids.”

Children ages 6-18 can join the team, though Griffin noted a shift happens in kids who are seven years old where they are better able to remember and apply what they’re being taught. The North Shore Stars have seven meets with the aim of getting athletes qualified for the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics July 30-Aug. 6. The first track meet is May 7 at Mustang Stadium at Manor High School with the district meet June 17 and the regional meet is June 29. Cost is $300, which includes four practices a week, snacks, refreshments and other team-related activities.

The North Shore Stars will compete in 16 of the 17 events found at Texas-based track meets plus others found at the Olympics, including the javelin. The only one not offered is pole vault because the staff currently doesn’t have a coach.

“If you’re a competitor and are getting better, it’ll make everyone else better,” Griffin said.

Griffin competed at the AAU Junior Olympics before he moved to Austin for his freshman year.

“It gave me a foot in the door,” he said. “I was already in shape and conditioned. I won a couple of events.”

As a shutdown cornerback, Griffin often lined up against the opponents’ top receivers, and he and his teammates understood they were getting the opponents’ best every week. He noted that track is where he cultivated one important element that has served him well.

“In track you have to develop a mentality that you’re a front runner or have the mentality to chase down the front runner,” he said. “I’m competing against every single runner. That feeds into several sports. I had to do this training on my own to have that mentality. You have to learn when to go fast and when to go slow.”

He said having the same mentality comes into play for those who participate in field events. He pointed to high jumpers, who have logged numerous hours at the jumping pit clearing height after height. But during a meet, most athletes have logged the same hours, eat right and get plenty of rest. So after awhile, athletes get tired. That’s when their muscle memory and mental edge must take over.

“You’re jumping 10 to 14 times in a row,” Griffin said. “If it comes down to that last jump, you have to have that mentality. Have a great mentality and understand the mindset.”

Griffin feels blessed that he had coaches who saw his natural athletic gifts and emphasized he could accomplish plenty. He wants to be that coach for young athletes.

“Someone spoke to me very directly about my potential to get it done,” he said. “Track coaches instilled hard work inside me. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable. If you’re not willing to be uncomfortable, you’re not going to have the success you want. We want to develop your child, not just for AAU track and school competitions. We want to help them compete and focus. I like to win. I want athletes to have that same development. When you’re prepared, you want to win, you want to show your best.”

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