When looking at the history of Track and Field in Rockland County, one cannot avoid frequent encounters with the surname St. Lawrence. Joe St. Lawrence was the 25-year coach of Suffern High’s Track team from the 1940’s through the mid 60’s, before entering the state legislature and later serving as the County Treasurer. His sons all embraced his enthusiastic love of Track and Field and excelled each in their own way in the sport.
Timothy, the second son of Marguerite and Joe St. Lawrence, showed the promise of athletic greatness even as a small child. He excelled at basketball, football, swimming, diving and being able to amaze his friends with his ability to do acrobatic tricks. The St. Lawrence’s “backyard” was expansive, and frequently with help from his dad, Tim and his friends would hold small track meets. Tim was usually a leading point-getter in those meets. Nothing much changed as he grew as an athlete. He was usually one of the best athletes in any contest in which he competed.
In 1962, when Tim was in eighth grade, a polevaulter named John Uelses became the first to clear the sixteen-foot barrier. He was using a pole made of fiberglass as well as a new technique. St. Lawrence knew at that point that he wanted to be a pole-vaulter. As a freshman at Suffern High, he matched the school record of 11 feet 6 inches set in 1955, and later that year cleared 12 feet. Along with David Mumme of Spring Valley, during the years 1963 through 1966,Tim pioneered the use of the fiberglass pole in this area; he helped to bring high school vaulting to an entire new level of achievement. County championships typically won at 11 feet now ascended to 12, 13, and eventually 14 feet plus, in a matter of just four years. Never selfish about his knowledge of the event, he conducted clinics for his competitors that lifted the level of local competition exponentially.
The landing pit erected in the St. Lawrence’s back yard (ball nets stuffed with strips of foam rubber recovered from the International Nickel Plant in Sloatsburg) was probably one of the best places around for a young vaulter to learn and excel. It became a local “Mecca” where pole-vaulters could come to “play”. Just a couple of years later, as Tim became a collegian, the backyard pit hosted some of the best pole-vaulters in the nation, as they would drop by to visit and train. St. Lawrence capped an outstanding run in high school by winning the pole vault at the New York State Championship in 1966. His winning performance of 14 feet, 5 inches, set a new state record at that time, and thirty-eight years later, it remains as the Suffern High School record in the event.
At the University of Alabama he won four varsity letters in Track and Field. At the Alabama Relays in 1971, he set an Alabama school record with a personal best performance of 17 feet, 1 1/4 inches. After college, he competed for the New York Athletic Club, where he won 19 consecutive Metropolitan Association pole vault championships – 9 indoor and 10 outdoors. This is a Metropolitan Association record for an individual in any Track and Field event that still stands today. During this time he competed in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials, and represented the USA in meets in Edinburgh, Scotland, Ontario, Canada, and Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1976, he was on the East team of the inaugural Olympic Sports Festival. If you ask St .Lawrence what time it is today, he possibly would be looking at the watch he won as champion of the Penn Relays Olympic Development Pole Vault in 1976 where he jumped 16 feet 6 inches.
Following the inspiration of his father, St. Lawrence sought a career in teaching and coaching. As great as he was as an athlete, as a coach he has been simply sensational. He is currently in his 33rd season as Track and Cross- Country Coach at Warwick Valley High School in Orange County. His cross-country teams have won 25 championships there and won the NYSPHSAA state titles 4 times (1982, 1994, 1995 and 2007). His Outdoor Track teams have won 30 championships and were New York State Class B Champions in 1997. He began the Indoor Track program in 1978, and they won 20 championships under his tutelage. In 1997 he was honored as the National Federation of High Schools Athletic Associations Cross Country Coach of the Year. He has coached 40 state champions (22 in cross-country; 18 in Track), 32 High School All-Americans, and has had 18 teams over the years ranked nationally. His cross-country teams now have an active dual-meet winning streak of 156 wins, while his outdoor track teams have an even more remarkable streak of 167 wins!
His incredible enthusiasm for Track and Field has now been communicated to two generations. He has become a master promoter of the sport, and is currently the director of the Purple Wave Fast/Times Relays – one of the most popular meets among athletes in the area. Many of his graduates have gone on to excel in collegiate track – including an NCAA champion. Many more have gone on to become coaches as well. Although Tim has retired from teaching Physical Education at Warwick Valley High School, he remains the cross country and track and field coach. Tim has also started a pole vaulting academy named, The Hudson Valley Flying Circus, in Warwick. In its third year of existence, the academy has 85 members and has produced 3 state champions.
Tim is married to Alice Wolf St. Lawrence. They have two sons – Timothy (27) and Michael (25), who were both members of a state championship cross-country team while at Goshen High School. The St. Lawrences reside in Goshen, New York.