By Gerry Robichaux
In the 22 years that I have been involved with the Northwest Louisiana District Senior Olympics, track and field, with few exceptions, has been my event. As a sports writer for The Times of Shreveport, I had covered track and field from the high school to the college level. So when the YMCA began developing the first NW District games in 1992, someone raised my hand when the task of overseeing track and field came up.
I can tell you, it has had its headaches as well as its joys (mostly the latter). I’ve met some really great people. As I conducted my final event on May 16, I was especially glad to see friends who were there from the early days, good folks like Vince Breaux, Charles Jolley, Larry Smith, Tim Mitchell, Dan Ursery, Jenny Hackman and Wayne Hanson, to mention just a few.
Putting together the competition starts early: months before it is listed on our schedules, the task is to get high schools to agree to let the seniors use their track.
Next step, and an important one, is getting individuals to volunteer to conduct or time the six running events and the three field events. We have had the fortune of working with high school coaches who gave us a hand, from the first years when track coach Don Millen of Bossier High took me and a few others under his wing and taught us what had to be done to properly conduct a meet. Jim Gatlin and Warren Saucier later stepped up to help when we ran at Bossier High. Roy Underwood, M.D. Ray and Bob Marlowe also spent time with us early-on, clipboard or starter’s pistol in hand, keeping the ball rolling.
Other things done in advance include getting EMS assistance committed to being at the event, arranging for tents in case of rain, having sound equipment on site and preparing a competitors’ Welcome and Information Center (heats and lanes, time schedule for races and field events as well maps of the layout).
Recently things like lining off fields or cleaning up long jump pits, seeing to late registrations and passing out t-shirts, getting medals in place, making sure all the record keeping sheets are printed and rules are clear for each event, getting the field equipment in the right place and being sure the most important doors are open (those marked male or female) usually fell to a few of us who belong to the steering committee.
It takes a lot of folks to make things run smoothly. And May 16th, when I was director of my final track and field competition, I had a number of organizations and individuals step forward to make my life a lot easier. I’m grateful to them all: to Andy Shehee of Kilpatrick Life and Roseneath for the tents, Russell Taylor of Steadman’s Sports Center for the sound equipment, Red River Road Runners Club for timing equipment, Bossier City Fire Department EMS, Airline High School and Principal Jason Rowland, and the young men in the National Guard Youth Challenge Program in Minden.
And to Ronny Comstock, field judges Harold Aldrich, Clarence Pinion, Joey Robichaux and starter Felix Rivera,
And to steering committee members Lillian Trammel, Les Brossset, Bette Turner, Gary Price, Jackie Conner and Doyle Blasingame.
All these folks and entities and all the competitors stepped up and helped make my last go-round a memorable one.