March 19, 2020
It is with a sad heart that I announce that, due to the coronavirus, the 2020 Glenn D. Loucks Games will not be held. The Games were to be held between May 7th and May 9th of this year, and would have been the 53rd edition of the famed meet.
For a long time, I sensed that this day would come - the closing of the New Balance Indoor Nationals and the Penn Relays issuing in the cold reality. Countless times I sat down to prepare this letter, but couldn't get by the "Hi All" salutation. But today, as the television shows reveal the rise in numbers of the coronavirus, my fingers were, somehow, able to get me through this difficult chore, and declare the Games are over for 2020.
Common sense and concern for the public's health make this decision easier to make, and, of course, the social distancing suggestions made our continuing an impossibility. But, for me, it is still hard to digest, as it is at this time of year that I usually am in what I call "Loucks Mode", preparing to welcome more that three thousand athletes, coaches and parents to White Plains High School, for what are annually three great days of competition.
There are so many things that I will miss about not having the Games, several are listed (and dozens are not)in no particular order:
- During March and April, daily (okay, hourly) going to directathletics.com to see which teams and which of their outstanding athletes have entered the meet.*more at the end of this letter
- Watching people like Katelyn Tuohy, Mia D'Ambrosio, Alissa Braxton, Emanuel Joseph and so many others do their thing at Loucks. It's beautiful to watch.*more at the end of this letter
- Seeing how many of the 150+ invitations to new schools were accepted - already accepted were the Moses Brown team from Rhode Island (with Sophia Gorriaran) and a couple of teams from Nova Scotia.*more at the end of this letter
- Greeting our honorees in what amounts to being an anniversary year of their Loucks victories. This year we had invited: From2010 - Nick Vena (Morristown HS), still meet recordholder in the SP (70' 11.5")/ Jordan Yamoah (Arlington HS) - first person in meet history to clear 16 feet in the PV / Vanessa Stewart (North Babylon) still meet record holder in the SP (48' 5") / the Liverpool HS 4x8 (Clemons, Wilke, Savage and Watkins) who still have the meet record (7:44.92). From2000 Amy Linnen (Mt Sinai), the first to clear 12 feet in the PV / Shanae Dawkins (New Rochelle - now Atlanta) the first person to win 3 individual trophies in the same year - there have only been 2 in meet history - and a total of 6 in her career. From1990 Sue Silvis (Wantagh), the first person in meet history to win the same field event three times (TJ). She now lives in Seattle. From1980 - Michael Potter (White Plains) winner of that year's Mile and from1970, in what would have been their50th anniversary the great Tony Colon (Power Memorial) winner of that year's Mile, who was coming from Texas to be with us, and, in what was going to be a special treat for me, the 1970 Mount Vernon track team (the first New York State school to win the meet and one of the great teams in New York State history), - about 20 of the members of the team were going to be on hand, including four members of the team (Mike Young, Ken McBryde, the great Bill Collins - you see him at Penn Relays running the masters races - and me) who were invited to the Golden West Championships (what was nationals way back then). Coach Dave Rider (now 90 - and 5 time New York State Coach of the Year) and his wife Donna were driving up from Florida to be honored.If you have a spare hour, I'll tell you about the team that won the New York State XC Championships, had the fastest 4x220 in the nation during the indoor season (1:31.1 on a flat floor) and during the outdoor season had 8 members break 50 in the 440, run a converted time of 3:14.0 to take second at Penn and who placed in every running event at the State meet, except the 400 - no one was in it from MVHS- winning 5 gold medals, 2 silvers and 3 or 4 bronzes.
- Accepting well wishes from the many coaches who travel to WPHS each year.
- Greeting the officials, many of whom, like the coaches, I haven't seen in a year's time.
- Watching from the infield as a very close race finishes, and seeing the crowd - in unison - turn their heads from the finish line to the scoreboard to see who actually won and the time! Oh, and hearing the crowd's acknowledgement of a great effort.
- On the Saturday prior to the meet, gathering with several members of the WPHS track team to stuff the packets. We have a pizza party afterwards.
- Watching the hard work that is done by local coaches at the seeding meeting. The energy generated by these coaches could light the State of Iowa for three weeks or more.
- During the opening ceremonies, watching our seniors, all at their last Loucks Games, jog down the track, on their way to light the torch.
- Being witness to Tim Donahoe organize the award ceremony - lining up the top five athletes in each event (25 for relays).
- Seeing the lines of people purchasing apparel at the Fine Designs booth.
- Seeing dozens of former WPHS athletes return for the Games - realizing, and accepting the fact that I only have time for a hug and a "How are you?" as I'm running (okay, walking) off to my next chore.
- Listening to Mike Greenspan announce, in the final lap of the 3200 Meters, Loucks Mile and the 800 meters, "As they come around the Tower Turn, it's...."
- My Friday night stay at the Crowne Plaza, looking at a few minutes of an NBA Playoff game, while I look online at Leone timing's results of the day, and then frowning as I set the alarm for 5:05 AM.
- Speaking of Leone timing, getting a call from its founder Pat Leone, signaling that, "We've arrived", as their trip from the Syracuse area to WPHS has been completed.
- On Saturday, after the meet ends, seeing my daughter Amanda, a teacher in the White Plains district, and her boyfriend John (also a teacher) greeting me with, "Nice meet, Dad".
- Greeting the athletes at the awards stand as they receive their awards - matching names to faces and thanking them for making the trip to White Plains.
- Watching Mary Donahoe and Laureen Fitzgerald, along with the help of others, organize the distribution of trophies and medals.
- Believe it or not, hearing meet announcer, Chuck Stogel say, "Fred Singleton. Please report to...". Vegas has the over/under of how many times my name will be called over the three days as 35.
- Watching the two people who, during the meet, probably work harder than anyone else, Nick Panaro and Bill Smith, sit at the computer and confirm the names of the entered athletes.
- On Friday night, walking up to the food area and have the smiling, hardworking track team parents hand me a burger and a beverage. They are always so well-organized.
- Seeing come to fruition the hard work of the custodial and ground crews, who are around to help with our "we-need-it-now" calls.
- Stealing a minute to sit down with my fellow WPHS coaches, Lamont McCormick, Dan Furry and Melissa Hidalgo to watch a moment of the meet.
- Seeing the group of WPHS athletes who have the task of being results runners do their thing, running results to the booth or lane assignments to the starters.
- Hearing the five to six songs in Friday evening's name the Artist Contest.
- Walking up the stairs (I swear they add three or four each year) to watch the javelin, shot put and discus competitions.
- Watching what I call "Grand Central Station at Rush Hour" as the Long Jumpers and Triple Jumpers assemble to check in.
- Seeing the joy on the winner's face as he or she receives the Olympian - the Loucks Trophy.
- Getting home Saturday night, being greeted by my wife Margo, who has a great dinner waiting for me.
*So, as we prepare for what might sadly end up as a year without track and other sports, I am asking for a favor. What I'm asking will take you a few minutes. If you do have time, please enter your athletes on directathletics.com anyway. Let's see what athletes would have attended the 2020 Glenn D. Loucks Games. On May 4th, instead of sharing it with the seeding committee, I will put the entries on our website. Please allow your athletes (especially your seniors) to be able to see their names listed on the Loucks website.
I hope to see you all for the May 6-8, 2021 Loucks Games.
Be safe, be strong, be healthy and be alert.
Yours in track,
Fred Singleton - Meet Director