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  • Rotary Meets!

    I've been involved in track and field for about 10 years, for five of them as meet director for summertime community track meets, and I've just become aware of the 60+ year tradition of youth track meets sponsored by Rotary clubs. I would like to know more about the history of these meets--

    what is the oldest Rotary meet?
    why did the Rotary clubs get involved with track 60+ years ago?
    are these meets doing OK or are they suffering from lack of participation?

    I'd be grateful for direction to any websites or other documents. Thanks!


    Jim Reardon
    [email protected]
    Madison, WI

  • #2
    I vaguely recall some junior champ or junior olympic meets of my youth (1960's) sponsored by Rotary Clubs. Curiously they always sported quartering winds for left handed discus throwers!

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    • #3
      You know, I was going to say that I had never heard of a Rotary-sponsored track & field meet but then I recalled winning a couple medals in a 1970 summer meet in Hackensack, NJ called "Junior Champions" and it clearly had something more than a local connection but was not Junior Olympics which I knew about elsewhere. I suspect that could have been Rotary-sponsored.

      In any event, I doubt the meets have existed for years or I'd be aware of them.

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      • #4
        It may have just been a local phenomenon.

        We have local Lions Club all-comer meets here during the summer. They're put on by the local chapter as a fundraiser and as far as I know the only reason being that some of the members are masters track athletes.

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        • #5
          Rotary meets are everywhere! A web search on "rotary track meet" turns up:

          29th Annual Greater San Fernando Valley Rotary Track Meet (California)
          60th Annual Grants Pass Rotary Track Meet (Oregon)
          86th Annual Lawton Rotary Club Track Meet (Oklahoma)
          62nd Annual West Kauai Rotary Club Track Meet (Hawaii)
          29th Annual Tunkhannock Rotary Club Track Meet (Pennsylvania)
          40th Annual Tullahoma Rotary Club Track Meet (Tennessee)
          19th Annual Maine-Endwell Rotary Club Girls Track Meet (New York)
          65th Annual Chandler Rotary Track Meet (Arizona)

          OK, so it does look like there are more and older meets in the American west than elsewhere (what would a track meet in Hawaii in 1948 have been like?).

          Do/did the people who put on these meets ever talk to USATF, or TAC, or the AAU..., or do these meets represent a completely independent tradition of track and field in the US (and apparently in Canada as well)?

          Bruce, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a meet sponsored by a "Rotary Club" treated discus throwers well.

          JR

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          • #6
            None of those meets are in NJ and I wonder where the two in NY and PA are in their respective states - because I've never heard of them. I am guessing upstate NY and rural or western PA.

            As to the relationship with USATF, I can tell you that when USATF (then called TAC/USA) was formed in 1978-1980, there was a serious attempt to bring all the various groups under the umbrella. Getting groups to join like the NCAA, NAIA, NFHS, and RRCA were more visible, but other groups such as CYO, YMCA, YWCA, AAHPERD, and JCCA were all given memberships and the right to seat a delegate or delegates at the annual convention.

            The Rotary was never among these various groups which joined USATF. If they wanted to be a member, I'm sure they could have been. But if they have been active in the sport, it must have been under the radar screen.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Halfmiler2
              None of those meets are in NJ and I wonder where the two in NY and PA are in their respective states - because I've never heard of them. I am guessing upstate NY and rural or western PA.
              Tunkhannock (home of Walt Tewksbury) is in Northeastern Pennsylavnia, in the Pocono Mountains and at the upper reaches of the Susquehanna River.

              Endwell is in upper-state New York, about five miles west of Binghamton and about 50 miles north of Tunkhannock. Maine-Endwell is the local high school, and includes Adley Raboy among its alumni.

              Kudos to anyone who can ID both individuals (without derailing this thread!)

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              • #8
                What little I know about the Rotary is that they are community-service minded and project-oriented. So it would not surprise me that a number of local chapters would support annual local track & field meets. But that does not mean that there was ever any national program to do so.

                I wonder if we did searches of the other fraternal groups, what we would find. For example, I believe there was a big indoor Knights of Columbus meet at one time.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Halfmiler2
                  I wonder if we did searches of the other fraternal groups, what we would find. For example, I believe there was a big indoor Knights of Columbus meet at one time.
                  Local chapters of the KofC ran two of the most important meets on the North American indoor circuit, in Boston and New York, held in each city's "Gardens." The Brooklyn chapter also had an indoor meet for many years, held in an armory in Brooklyn.

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                  • #10
                    Cleveland KC was also of major significance at least as late as the mid-'70s.

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                    • #11
                      It also occurs to me that fraternal groups have probably sponsored numerous roadraces at the local level. The timing, of course is more recent than some track & field meets since the roadrace boom only started in the 1970's and 1980's after Frank Shorter's gold medal.

                      As a small example of the above, I can tell you of a personal experience. In the late 1970's, my law school had started a 3 mile roadrace and after the founder had graduated, a few of us in school were struggling to keep it going. At the same time, a legal fraternity group had just ended its sponsorship of the school's parody show, and was searching for a new project to replace it. They ended up being the major sponsor for the roadrace - offering volunteers as well as some funds.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Halfmiler2
                        It also occurs to me that fraternal groups have probably sponsored numerous roadraces at the local level. The timing, of course is more recent than some track & field meets since the roadrace boom only started in the 1970's and 1980's after Frank Shorter's gold medal.
                        I think you could say there have been three road running booms in the U.S., with the one you cite being the most recent.

                        The first boom followed the 1908 Olympics, precipitated by the Dorando Pietri/Johnny Hayes marathon race. The second occurred in the mid- and late-'50s and created Road Runners Club of America.

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