Several weeks ago I traveled to Ardmore to attend the Class 5A state high school track meet with my daughter, Rachel. Ardmore has hosted the state meet several times in recent years, due primarily to the high quality of its running track and related facilities.


Several weeks ago I traveled to Ardmore to attend the Class 5A state high school track meet with my daughter, Rachel. Ardmore has hosted the state meet several times in recent years, due primarily to the high quality of its running track and related facilities. We paid to get in, bought lunch and snacks and had to fill up the car with gas (gulp!) coming home. There were several thousand high school participants, coaches, and other attendees much like ourselves all spending money in Ardmore. Both the Shawnee High School boys and girls teams finished fourth and crowned several individual state champions. This was no small task, particularly since Shawnee has no track. The existing facility is terribly outdated and poses an injury risk to participating student athletes. Shawnee cannot even host a track meet. Those of you who have recently attended the Kiwanis Little Olympics can attest to its poor condition.

Shawnee’s track teams are consistently in the running for state honors. Several years ago the boys team accomplished a task that may be unparalleled in Oklahoma secondary athletics history: Winning the Class 5A state track championship without a track.

Shawnee School District I-93 recognized the need for a new track when it dedicated a portion of the recent $20 million school bond issue to renovating the facility at Jim Thorpe Stadium. The problem is, the cost to rebuild a first-class track facility exceeds the amount of dedicated funds. Additional funding sources are needed to complete the project. A committee has been formed to investigate available options, one of which will likely be another bond issue. All Shawnee school patrons should be given the opportunity to participate in this project, not just the property owners within District I-93.

Some will say track is not a revenue generating sport and funds could be better spent elsewhere. For the reasons stated above, I tend to disagree. There are other considerations as well. Track is a sport in which both boys and girls can participate. It promotes good physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

Let me also give you several examples of the type of student athlete being produced. At the recent state meet, I watched as a Shawnee runner battled with another runner for a quarter mile. When the other runner collapsed just ahead at the finish line, the equally exhausted Shawnee runner was the first to carry him from the track. Another Shawnee distance runner even offered to give his state medal to a rival who had been running ahead of him but was later disqualified. Both are examples of first-class sportsmanship.

When the opportunity is given, I urge you to lend support for renovating the much needed Shawnee track facility at Jim Thorpe Stadium. The entire Shawnee community will benefit.