Younger Burrell looks to meet family standard
Leroy Burrell wears two hats aside from the one that shields him from the sun — he serves as head coach of the 54 UH track and field athletes and as a father to the team’s newest recruit, his son Cameron.
Cameron found his collegiate home at UH — where Leroy’s Olympic career began — after graduating from Ridge Point High School in June 2013.
“It’s kind of cool that you get to keep it in the family. It’s just kind of a tradition,” Cameron said. “I like it. I’m enjoying myself so far. I’m trying to be like my dad, kind of.”
There is a secret code word that is shared among the Burrells that Leroy said is used to balance the times when he’s dad and the times when he’s coach.
“I think it’s really important that we both maintain a balance with each other and balance my role with Cameron as his father and with the team. So far, it’s been really good,” Leroy said. “He’s started off very well, and all the guys are getting along well, and things are going better than I expected.”
Leroy has left big shoes to fill for his son. He was a 10-time NCAA All-American who was known as the fastest man in the world in 1991 after setting a new record in the 100-meter dash that was formally held by Carl Lewis, who now serves as the team’s volunteer coach. Leroy was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Texas Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January in recognition of the accolades he has earned throughout the years.
But the idea of Cameron coming to UH was never something Leroy pushed on his son. He said he needed Cameron to choose what was best for him and his career, future and education, despite people expecting him to be just as successful as his father.
“He’s his own man, and he has to chart his own course and be who he wants to be,” Leroy said. “That’s my role, primarily as a father, to assist him in that process, so we’re off to a good start, and we’ll continue to work on it.
“But I think there’s a lot of pressure because people think that. But I think in his mind and I know in my mind that I’m just most concerned about him being the best he can be.”
Having his father as his coach is nothing new for the freshman sprinter, who began the experience in high school and, as many suspected, is planning to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“(My dad) was able to do really good things throughout his professional career, and hopefully I can do some of those same things, like making some world records,” Cameron said.