Phil Hummel

PHIL HUMMEL -- A MAN WITH A MISSION -- Hummel is pictured here on the left with one of star runners, Brady Dickinson, right.

In Woodbine, the name Phil Hummel is synonymous with student-athletes, record setting times and distances, and track & field titles. Across the state, it is nearly as recognizable as other Woodbine brands such as TommyGate or Energique.

The former Woodbine High School coach and teacher was a force in many students’ lives cutting across several generations of WCS alumni. Recently, a group of alumni and interested community members have banded together to create a capital campaign committee to raise funds for a state-of-the-art track and field facility, naming the track in Hummel’s honor.

Members of the recently created Phil Hummel Memorial All-Weather Track Capital Campaign Committee envision a future facility that houses an eight-lane all-weather track with updated lighting and seating facilities. The goal is twofold: to enhance the city’s recreational and wellness capacity for all community members use, and to increase the future viability of the track and field for Woodbine athletes.

The Co-Chairpersons of the capital campaign are Jim Reisz and Angie Pryor. Over 20 other committee members are working with the Chairs and represent current residents, downtown business, school, and alumni.

 “We have had one planning meeting so far and are awaiting bid estimates and soil samples,” Reisz said. “Alumni support will be critical to the success of this effort and we hope to provide a solid message to our returning alumni during the annual All-School Reunion Banquet on May 26.”

Reisz said the committee also is working to launch a Facebook page that will have full information about the project, its goals and financing details.

“Our current track was built in the late 1960s and needs to be replaced,” Reisz said. “Some schools will not compete here because of the cinder track and drainage is a concern with the current facility. Having an eight-lane, all-weather track is a prerequisite to attracting conference and state-qualifying events. This is long time overdue given the rich tradition of Woodbine’s track program.”

He said the new track would be yet one more sign that Woodbine is progressing and believes in its future.

“This facility would be a huge asset for both the community and the school district,” Reisz said. “When you look at the façade renovations downtown and all of the other improvement projects in Woodbine, this project is just another example of the town’s progress. Visitors are already asking about what is different about Woodbine that it is able to do all of these projects when so many other towns struggle. It all comes down to our people.”

Reisz said once projects like this begin to take shape, a snowball effect happens in the community.

“It all snowballs once a project like this gets launched and people begin to own the vision,” he said. “Businesses begin to get involved, volunteer groups become interested and alumni become excited about being a part of positive change. Woodbine has a history of this type of cooperative spirit.”

Reisz, a former student and athlete of Hummel’s, said the project is a fitting tribute to a man who made such a huge impact on so many.

“He talked to me and I listened to him – maybe more now that I am older than I did at the time – but his influence is as valuable in life as it was in the classroom or on the track,” he said. “Two of his favorite quotes were ‘Pain lasts but for a short time, but success lasts forever’ and ‘Trust is the easiest thing to lose and the hardest thing to gain.’ I apply those same thoughts today.”

Reisz said he still remembers the pride he and his fellow teammates felt in 1989 when they returned from the first state boys’ track meet for Woodbine in Des Moines and the team entered the school during the annual alumni banquet.

“All the people at the banquet stopped and applauded us,” he said. “That felt good and meant a lot – to everyone.”

He said that the team in those days used to have to train in the spring in the large grain bin owned by United Western Coop, because the WHS track would be too wet and muddy.

“And, we still put up pretty good times at those first season, indoor meets,” Reisz said. “Imagine what times we could have had if we had this type of track. Imagine what levels our current and future athletes could be competing at with this proposed track.”

Reisz added that one of the strongest points of the current campaign is the age range of people interested in helping and supporting the dream through their volunteer work for the capital campaign.

”There’s a wide variety of ages represented – alumni and students,” he said. “We have everyone from recent graduates up to people in their 60s. This is how many people Hummel or his legacy has touched. It is extraordinary.”

If you would like to contribute to the capital campaign, please contact Woodbine Main Street at woodbinechamber@iowatelecom.net; or make a tax deductible contribution to Woodbine Community Foundation - Hummel Memorial All Weather Track Capital Campaign, and mail to Farmers Trust & Savings Bank, Attn: Mark Esser, 510 Lincoln Way, Woodbine, Iowa 51579. All donations are tax deductible and will build and strengthen an already proud and winning athletic tradition in Woodbine.

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