When a world record breaking Indoor National Champion of the 60 Meter Hurdle gets awarded the Long Beach mayor’s California State Educator of the Year award, then the best thing to do is “pay it forward” like Derek Pye is doing for LB’s local youth.
“I believe in recycling the same emotional support, once received as a child to the kids of Long Beach,” said Pye, who has won several 60 meter dashes and hurdles at the USA Track and Field Championship.
Derek’s athletic career began with a recreational after school program he attended in Long Beach at age 13. He learned how to play sports from his mentor and lifetime friend who volunteered and encouraged him to believe in himself because future opportunities would be coming his way.
When Cal State Long beach’s track and field Coach George Mc Quarn discovered Derek, the focus was on his running ability to help make the track and field program stronger. When Derek received a two year scholarship, it inspired him to give back to the community, out of pure gratitude.
Derek explains that positive words like “never give up,” or “always do your best” are often heard by good parents, but he says that is not always the case in under-privileged homes.
His goal is to be that impactful person that makes a difference in the lives of young athletes. His exemplary leadership of volunteering after work for the past 20 years has translated into helping kids with earning full college scholarships in athletics. While coaching boys’ basketball, football and track and field at Bancroft middle school, he has become one of the most sought after coaches in the LB school district with a goal to ensure that students are receiving the academic and behavioral support they need for success.
The love for track and field has opened many doors for Derek who has not stopped winning competitions in the 40 to 49-year-old age bracket. His dedication and perseverance has earned him international recognition in USATF, male athlete of the year, along with the mayor’s recognition of honoring his success like setting multiple national records and sharing what that is like to students throughout the Long Beach school district.
Even with numerous awards, titles, and world records, Derek maintains that his greatest accomplishment was receiving a scholarship to CSULB.
“[When I was growing up] and where I came from, there were not too many people with the opportunity to go to college,” he said.
During the summer, Derek volunteers at a free recreational program sponsored by the Mercedes Lewis Foundation that offers football training and lunch in Long Beach. He is often finding ways of giving back including organizing walking groups among friends. One day he may organize a run to raise money for kids in the city of Long Beach, but as of now he enjoys watching those he has helped, help others.