Coye Still reluctantly got involved in track and field on the recommendation of his middle school basketball coach. Four years later, Still dumped basketball as he started to concentrate on track and field.
Now a senior at Hickory Ridge High, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Still has developed into a standout high jumper and long jumper. He finished second in the long jump at the 1A/2A/3A state indoor meet in February and is hoping to duplicate that all-state status in the spring outdoor season.
Still admits that he was a little disgruntled when his seventh-grade hoops coach at C.C. Griffin Middle School advised all of his players to participate in a spring sport. Still already played basketball and football.
He says he was "just OK" as a seventh-grade high jumper, but the following year he elevated his game. In fact, Still's highest elevation as an eighth-grader was 5 feet, 11 inches - a remarkable leap for any middle schooler.
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Still was starting to appreciate track and field more and more. As a freshman at Central Cabarrus, no one needed to talk him into going out for the team. He added the long jump to his repertoire, but his high jumps were disappointingly lower than his middle school marks.
"It was just harder," he said. "It was a hard transition from being dominant to being at the bottom of the food chain. I don't remember anything but disappointment."
Prior to his sophomore year, Still was redistricted to the new Hickory Ridge High School. He leaped 20 feet, 6-and-a-half inches in the outdoor season, causing Still to consider long jumping as an equal to his high jumping. His personal best of 6-2 on the high jump qualified him for the regionals that year.
His junior year would produce even greater results, probably for two reasons. First, Still felt he had become a good enough track and field jumper that maybe basketball was interfering with his efforts. He decided to give it up.
Second, Doc Wells, a former UNC Charlotte assistant coach, took over the boys program at Hickory Ridge and immediately made an impact on Still's training regiment and results.
Still competed in the indoor winter season for the first time, and Wells got him lifting weights and applying plyometrics to increase his speed going into his jumps. At the 1A/2A/3A state meet, Still finished third in the high jump and fourth in the long jump.
Still carried the momentum from the indoor season into the more competitive outdoor season. He qualified for the 3A state meet in both events and finished fifth in the long jump and ninth in the high jump.
Starting with the fall, Still's senior year has been memorable. Though he lightened his athletic load over the years, Still never gave up on football, and he was a member of Hickory Ridge's first playoff team this school year.
At the state indoor track and field meet in February, Still finished second in the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 5 inches. He placed fifth in the high jump.
In February, Still signed a national-letter-of-intent to attend UNC Charlotte in the fall. Influenced by Well's impact on him in the classroom as well, Still will also be attending college through the Teaching Fellows scholarship program and plans to teach social studies just like his mentor.
Coye will be the first of five Still children that plan on graduating from Hickory Ridge. His brother Seth is a sophomore football and basketball player and sister Anna, a freshman, plays volleyball and is training in the long jump under Coye's leadership. Twin sisters Eden and Hope are seventh-graders at C.C. Griffin.