By Clinton Dick
Rubble and dirt covered the ground at this time last year where Richard L. Jantz Stadium now stands. Come Saturday, the track that encompasses the new facility will be dedicated to the Helmer family, who has had a long history at Southwestern.
“It is appropriate because our family has been associated with SC track since 1965 when my brother attended school,” said Jim Helmer, head men’s track coach. “Our experiences in track and cross country are very meaningful to us.”
Helmer is the member of his family associated with the college. A long lineage of the family attended Southwestern including, Ron Helmer, brother, Lynette St. Vrain, sister, Cassi Helmer, daughter, Ashley Helmer, daughter, Cory Helmer, son, Tori Helmer, son’s daughter, Justin Helmer, brother’s son, Kristi Weaver, sister’s daughter, Lou Row, husband to Kristi, Craig Weaver, son to Kristi, and Ryan Turner, husband to Cassi. All but St. Vrain, Weaver, Ashley and Row, who was a football player at SC, were cross country and track runners in college.
“The great thing is, this is named after his family,” said Dave Denly, director of athletics. “It is a great honor.”
After running while in college, Helmer became a coach for cross country and has racked up a streak of 31consecutive men’s cross country titles in his tenure.
“He is a wonderful man and a great coach,” said Denly. “I look up to him and what he has accomplished.”
The original idea that was brought about was to name the track after Helmer himself.
“It was during the planning process of the new stadium,” said Helmer. “President Merriman said the plan for the track would be the Jim Helmer Track. I thought about it and thought it would be appropriate to have it named after my family. It wasn’t just about me. It was about my whole family who have attended SC.”
Helmer says that he is pleased with the support he has received.
“There have been a number of people who have had roles in that,” said Helmer. “I am very grateful to all the alumni and our friends and fans who have supported the whole project. They have been very generous with their monetary gifts to help make our dreams a reality. It has been fun”
The dedication is set to take place at 4 p.m. April 30 during the 50th Anniversary of the SC Relays track meet.
“We will have a lot of family here and track alumni and a lot of people who want to see the facility,” said Helmer. “There will be a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Despite the time of celebration, Helmer will still have a meet to coach.
“There will be the stress of running a good track meet and getting ready for the conference meet coming up the next week, so I will be really concerned,” said Helmer. “The actual dedication will be very special. My hope is that the new facility will give opportunities to hundreds of athletes in the future.”
Clinton Dick is a sophomore majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.