The journey of Suitland track coach Noel Cyrus

District Heights, Md. (WUSA 9) -- When you ask Suitland head track coach Noel Cyrus what brought him here, he answers with divine disclosure.

"I felt like God looked at me and he pointed and said: You, go."

And so, the Cyrus way has taken hold in District Heights, even though he never planned to be here.

"He's very big on respect. He makes sure you respect your elders [and] you respect each other," said senior Brandon Brown.

Cyrus was a District kid, starred at Ballou and eventually coached there. When you ask him about Ward 8, pride wells up.

"Ballou, is located in the poorest ward in the District," said Cyrus. "But that doesn't mean we have to have the poorest team."

Cyrus coached Ballou to 20 district titles, it was his dream job. Then, it came crashing down. The city was going through drastic changes under then Chancellor of DC Public Schools Michelle Rhee. Cyrus, figuring he was tenured enough, wasn't expecting a layoff; he was wrong.

"They took me in a room and said your services are no longer needed and they had police escort me out of the building like I stole something. That was tough," said Cyrus through tears.

Five years later, it's still a gut-punch, but the District's loss is Prince George's County's gain. Cyrus has traded Ballou Knight colors for Suitland Rams colors, but his willingness to help student-athletes has never wavered.

Cyrus is running a track program once again and his Rams are a force on the oval and in the classroom.

"If your grades aren't right he'll tell you to go get it done, so you can stay on the team, but if you have to choose he'll tell you to choose academics instead of the team," said senior Victoria Blalock.

From Ballou to Suitland, Cyrus is still standing and still making a difference.


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