BELLEVILLE — An assistant track and field coach at Belleville West for the past five years, East St. Louis native Kevin Anderson has been wanting a chance to run his own program.
The 31-year-old Anderson will now get his chance and in District 201 to boot.
A former all-state athlete in both football and track and field at East St. Louis High School, Anderson was recently hired as boys track and field coach at Belleville East.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity. Belleville East has a great tradition in track and field, but it has struggled a little bit in the last couple of years," Anderson said. "One of my goals is to build his program into one of the best once again.
"I think one way to do that is with numbers. There are a lot of outstanding athletes walking the halls at Belleville East who are not out for track and field. My job is to get those athletes out.''
Anderson takes over the coaching duties at East from Joe Byrne, who resigned for personal reasons.
In Anderson, the Lancers are getting one of the great two-sport athletes in recent East St. Louis High School history. An all-state defensive back and all-state athlete on the track, Anderson was on the Flyers' 1998 state championship team, which included sprint stars Detar Anderson and Marcus Lee and trained under legendary coach John Davis.
A 2000 East St. Louis graduate, Anderson played football at Illinois for one season before transferring to Eastern Illinois, where he played three years and was a teammate of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Anderson is a 2005 EIU graduate and after serving as an assistant coach for the West girls track program for one year, has been with the Maroons boys team for the past five years as an assistant to Patton Segraves.
"Patton (Segraves) has turned the track and field program at West into one of the best in the state and John (Davis) at East St. Louis has been like a second father to me. I've learned from two outstanding coaches,'' Anderson said. "At West, I worked a lot with the hurdlers and had the chance to help with (state medalists) Jarvis Patterson and Divonte Ridley.
"I feel we've got two special talents in William (Session) and Os Moore here at East and they could be two of the best in the state in the 110-meter hurdles. I just need to get them to run the 300-meter hurdles. There is talent here.''
Anderson also has worked with and traveled with several District 201 athletes in AAU and USA Track and Field competitions this summer. Under the guidance of Anderson, Session went on to place second in 15-16 age group at the 110 hurdles at the USA Track and Field national finals. Session ran a time of 14.4 seconds.
Anderson also knows that the Lancers will benefit from competing in one of the state's premier track conferences.
"The Southwestern Conference is one of the premier conferences in the state in both boys and girls track and field,'' Anderson said. "Edwardsville, Belleville West, O'Fallon, East St. Louis all in one conference, it's among the best in the state. Than we also compete against the top Class 2A program in the state in Cahokia.
"I want this to be a track program which peaks at the right time. I want us to be at our best in the postseason. That's what it's about. You are remembered for how you do at the state meet.''