Cam Viney’s last season on Illini Men’s Track
March 3, 2016
Tweet: Cam Viney looks back on his career with @IlliniMTrack as he prepares for his final season. #Illini
Cam Viney always loved the outdoors. Growing up in his hometown of Elkins, West Virginia, Viney went backpacking, hiking, camping and swimming in a river with friends.
Along with his love of the outdoors, Viney took a quick liking to sports. Viney’s best was track, where he would go on to win seven state titles.
Viney enjoys running outdoor track far more than he does indoor. The feeling of running inside a small, indoor track is not nearly as enjoyable to the outdoorsman as its bigger, open-air counterpart.
But he didn’t like either as a freshman on Illinois’ men’s track team.
“To be honest, I kind of hated track first semester freshman year,” the Illinois senior said. “We kind of felt like we were shunned by the upperclassmen. We were kind of just like pledges. Nothing bad happened like hazing, but we weren’t really included in anything.”
Despite the fact that he found success in his small town, Viney looked for a different environment to spend his next four years when making his college decision. The transition to the University of Illinois campus was not easy for the small-town kid.
The start of Viney’s freshman year had rough points, and he had a hard time finding his place on the the track team and at the University.
The treatment at the hands of upperclassmen motivated Viney. He wanted to push himself to compete with and beat the seniors who had such little interest in him. It also motivated him to treat his teammates as equals, and reach out to the younger athletes as he grew older and became a more established part of the program.
In order to compete at the highest level, Viney had to change his running and hurdling form, but his dedication and competitive nature paid off. At the end of his freshman year, Viney was named an All-American for his part in Illinois’ 4×400 meter relay that took fifth at the outdoor NCAA Championships.
Viney continued to succeed, particularly on the outdoor track. He qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2014, and in 2015 was named a first team All-American in the 4×400, and second team All-American in 110 meter hurdles and 400 meter hurdles.
Viney’s success went far beyond the track. He excelled in the locker room and the classroom — Viney is academic All-Big Ten.
As a leader, Viney kept the promise that he made as freshman. He tries to treat the younger guys as friends, inviting them over to hang out with the older members of the team, while still trying to motivate them to have the same competitive spirit that led to so much of the success he had in his freshman year.
“Cam is a natural leader,” hurdles coach Adrian Wheatley said. “He has an ability to allow his ideas and philosophies to permeate throughout the group.”
Viney is studying political science and international studies, with the hopes of becoming an international lawyer, specifically focused on human rights’ violations.
While Viney would have loved to have a double major throughout college, International Studies’ study abroad requirement kept him from this aspiration until recently.
Since it was near impossible to study abroad and compete in track, Viney had to push off the experience until he negotiated with the University to spend an extra semester as a student after his senior year..
Viney will be centered in Stockholm in the fall, spending his semester traveling across Europe, a fitting victory lap for the senior only months away from finishing a successful career at Illinois.
“I wanted to get that type of environment and cultural differences,” Viney said. “That would better my mind and my evaluation of whether I want to be a lawyer abroad fighting for human rights.”