Memorial Day weekend brought a crowd of people from all over the nation to Ohio Wesleyan University and Delaware, and the community responded with its best foot forward.
Ohio Wesleyan hosted the 2011 NCAA Division III national outdoor track & field championships May 26-28. Kris Boey, head track & field coach at Ohio Wesleyan, was the meet’s co-director along with Seth McGuffin, assistant track & field coach.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way everyone at Ohio Wesleyan and the Delaware community embraced this,” Boey says.
The meet attracted an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people, including the 796 athletes competing for All-America titles.
“You take pride in hosting an event like this,” McGuffin says. “It’s a whole different feeling when it’s your place. It’s like when you bring someone into your actual home. You clean it up, make it presentable, and you want people to leave with a smile.”
And that’s what Ohio Wesleyan did. Selby Stadium was the main arena for competitors, and it was spruced up for the event.
A new scoreboard with video technology was installed, as well as several other renovations. The scoreboard will be a permanent addition to the stadium, funded by private gifts and a lead donation by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Additional recent renovations include stadium lighting, a permanent concession stand under the home grandstand, and a timing booth.
The video technology set Ohio Wesleyan apart as a host in the eyes of both athletes and fans. OWU senior Kaitlin “Kat” Zimmerly, who qualified for the women’s 5,000-meter run, says the scoreboard added a championship feeling to the meet.
“I think all of the upgrades really enhanced the experience that we could give,” Zimmerly says. “You could almost instantly view the unofficial times. They were up on the board right after the race, and you could look and see a replay of the race. I really, really liked it.”
Her feelings were echoed by Boey, who says people stopped him every day during competition to comment on the success of the event, including the scoreboard.
“It gave everyone a new and unique experience,” Boey says, “especially with the scoreboard. … I think the technology really set us apart from almost all—no, I would say all—other hosts.”
The NCAA and Turner Broadcasting System supplied a video truck, cameras, and extensive video and instant-replay coverage. CBS Sports staff taped portions of the event for a seasonal wrap-up scheduled to air from 4-5 p.m. June 19.
The scoreboard wasn’t the only thing that had spectators from across the nation applauding. Sherri Broderious, a parent of a participating athlete, came all the way from Minnesota. Broderious wrote a letter to The Delaware Gazette thanking “the kind people of Delaware and of OWU for the positively memorable experience we had.”
Both Boey and McGuffin say a tremendous amount of work went into the national championship meet, and it’s nice to receive positive feedback. Boey also emphasized the importance of community involvement.
“Events like this create community,” he says. “Our officials were thrilled with the amount of volunteers and what a good job they did. Mostly it was our team, but we also had staff, community, Ohio Wesleyan employees—everyone really came together and got involved.”
That involvement included special community relations tables staffed outside the stadium and in the downtown throughout the event. The tables were arranged by volunteers from the Delaware County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Main Street Delaware.
Boey and McGuffin were assisted by OWU Athletic Director Roger Ingles, who served as tournament director, and 2008 OWU graduate Ashley Shaffer, who served as the NCAA Intern.
During Shaffer’s time as a Battling Bishop, she earned All-North Coast Athletic Conference honors and NCAA Division III All-America honors in the heptathlon.
“It was a lot of fun,” Shaffer says of working on the championship event. “I never realized how much work and planning went into it when I was an athlete. I have a lot more appreciation now that I took this job this year.”