RED SPRINGS — Don’t let Marshall McRae’s laid-back manner fool you.
He is one of the fastest runners to ever come out of Red Springs High School.
Those who know him also describe him as one of the nicest students to come out of the school as well.
McRae, a member of Appalachian State University men’s track and field, recently placed second at the Southern Conference Indoor Championships. The 21-year-old returned to Red Springs recently to talk about with town leaders about starting a junior track program.
Mayor John McNeill said he hopes McRae will work with the fledgling program this summer.
“He is an athlete as well as a good scholar and we’re proud of him,” McNeill said.”When a kid from our community works hard like that, we want to celebrate them.”
McRae met with McNeill in the mayor’s office at Town Hall and presented him with an Appalachian State poster.
“I think he is someone that our kids can identify with,” McNeill said. “This is a Red Springs native who proves that just because you are from a small town doesn’t disqualify you from being successful. This young man is successful at track and in school because he puts forward the effort.”
In high school, McRae participated in both track and football.
He was named all-conference, all-region and all-state in his junior campaign for the 100-meter dash. He earned all-conference honors for a first-place finish in the 100-meter dash in his senior season. He also posted a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter dash at the state championships and was named MVP in track his senior season. He was voted captain in both track and football.
Most recently, McRae placed second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.85, earning a new personal best.
“At first, I didn’t like track,” he said. “I was more interested in playing football, but I got better at it and gained a love and passion for it. It is something I work at every day.”
The 2011 Red Springs High School graduate was awarded a track scholarship to ASU.
But McRae’s life could have taken a different turn. The young man was 5 when he witnessed his father, for whom he is named, shot to death in the front yard of his home on Daniel McLeod Road in 1999.
Authorities said the elder McRae was gunned down in his driveway in Red Springs after a car pulled up and a conversation took place.
Timothy, Charles and Richard Campbell have since been sentenced to life in prison in connection with the murder.
“It was a mentally tough experience seeing something like that,” McRae said. “He always said he’d like to see me play in college. Those images are hard to erase.”
McRae said the death of his father, socially, shut down his life. School wasn’t important and goals seemed meaningless. He needed guidance.
McRae said his Red Springs track coach Terrence Semple helped him transform from introvert to an athlete.
“Coach taught me a lot about myself,” McRae said. “He believed in me and saw potential. Before him, I never had that in my life.”
McRae said he was glad to be home during spring break.
“I miss my family,” he said. “I just thank my mom, Charlene McRae, for being there and supporting me.”
A criminal justice major, McRae said he would like to serve in the U.S. Navy and eventually work for the FBI.
McRae said he also wants to be a good role model for young people.
“I want to serve my community in any way I can,” he said. “I love Red Springs and I’ll never forget where I came from.”