Calhoun coach Ervin Starr overcomes obstacles with personal approach

Published 5:10 pm Sunday, June 11, 2023

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The Calhoun School head football coach, Ervin Starr, joined the high school’s athletic program in 2017 and has led the Tigers in five football seasons, missing only one season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lowndes County Athletics Director Nickles Rankins said during that time he has observed Starr doing “whatever it takes to get the job done.”

“He is always making sure that kids have a way to get to and from school,” Rankins said. “They know they don’t have to worry about that because they have a resource in him.”

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As a young man, Starr said he watched the coaches around him who poured themselves into the lives of student athletes and wanted to influence young lives in the same way.

“Just being around them and seeing how they changed the lives of young men while I was still in high school influenced me,” Starr said. “I just kind of caught the bug.”

After high school, Starr attended college briefly, then joined the military and served in the U.S. Marine Corps until 2000. Then he went back to college, earned his degree and worked as assistant coach for football, basketball, and track at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery.

“I worked as an assistant coach for football, basketball, and track at Robert E. Lee before I even had a teaching job,” Starr said. “So, it has been a passion of mine.”

The Calhoun School Principal Nicholas Townsend describes Starr as someone who goes to great lengths for student athletes and the school’s athletic program.

“There are a number of variables that we have to overcome just to get our athletic program off the ground,” Townsend said. “Coach Starr has a lot of attributes, but the biggest is perseverance. No matter what obstacles come his way, he’s trying to think of innovative ideas in order to get the job done.”

Townsend said Starr is often found picking up students who need a ride to practice, then taking them home afterwards.

“Starr does whatever is necessary, whether it be assisting with after school programs, helping students academically, fund raising, or making sure students have liquids and snacks,” Townsend said. “He was instrumental in designing the new weight rooms for Central [High School] and Calhoun and finding those who are willing to assist kids. He’s just innovative and persevering, no matter what the obstacles are.”

Starr models his coaching style after his own high school football coach. Some call his style “old school” or outdated, he explained, but he strives to teach student athletes about accountability and discipline.

“We try to look at things from the kids’ and parents’ perspectives,” Starr said. “We’re trying to make some improvements in the program and I think we are headed in the right direction. The kids are working hard and I think the fruits of their labor are coming.”

Starr said it is difficult to get kids to school and to practice. The coaching staff works hard to remove obstacles, to help kids achieve success academically and athletically.

“We just ask kids to be courteous, to give us a call and tell us they need a ride,” Starr said. “We have to do what we have to do to make kids want to play, and get them here. So if we have to start two hours before practice to get them here, that’s what we do.

“We have some after school programs, with some mentors who come in to talk with our young men,” Starr said. “It’s not about wins or losses, but we try to make a difference and help them get started in the right direction for life.”

And, after 20 years of coaching, Starr said he takes a personal stake in each student athlete.

“After 20 years, it has to be personal, understanding what this young man is going through,” Starr said. “Everybody’s household is different. Every kid has a different lifestyle. That’s one of the blessings of being able to coach and teach professionally, because we do make these personal relationships. If you don’t take it personally and have a personal stake in these kids’ lives, you’re not doing your best.”