In the 1950s and 1960s, St. Francis High School athletes made their most memorable plays on the field and the oval track. But those memories disintegrated into small stones and disuse once the new high school building opened in 1971.
Now a group of community volunteers is trying to raise $22,000 to bring the oval track behind the now-St. Francis Middle School back into usable shape.
The track used to be a cider track, which are very good tracks if maintained, said Andy Street, assistant middle school track coach.
Once the high school moved over to the new building, the district did not maintain the track, he said.
Without maintenance beyond leveling out, the track gradually wore away.
“What is left is just the base of the cinder track,” Street said.
While high school athletes no longer use the track, the younger athletes and the community do, he said.
The students in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades use the track for gym and for the after school track program.
“Last year, there were about 90 kids on the track team,” Street said.
But with large pumice-like stones working their way to the surface of the track, conditions are dangerous for those running.
In one day, 40 large stones were removed from the track, said Barb Anderson, head track coach.
Each week they are pick up even more large stones, she said.
“Anyone walking or jogging on this track is at risk for spraining an ankle or falling and getting badly scraped up,” Street said.
“We have been running for years on this junkie stuff,” Anderson said.
When the track is used for middle school classes, the school nurse sees a lot of injuries and the custodians have extra work because the kids are tracking the loose stones into the building on their shoes, she said.
During gym class, they run mostly on the grass, said Emma Street, a student at the middle school and Andy’s daughter.
Because of its condition, the track does not get a lot of use, Andy Street said.
But once the new track is done, the students and the community will get a lot of use out of it, he said.
Although the track is on the district’s long list of projects, it will not get done as long as budgets remain tight, Anderson said.
To bring the track back into usable shape, the pair decided to head up a community effort to raise the money needed for the six inches of aggregate lime to rebuild the track.
“We want to bring the track back so it can be used by the kids and the whole community,” Street said.
While they would like to have the track ready for the track season next spring, it will be up to the community to get the project funded, Street said.
They are also looking into getting grants, he said.
Getting the track done will help everybody, Anderson said.
How to help
Donations are being collected by the St. Francis Track and Cross Country Booster Organization, a 501(c3) organization. Donations are tax deductible.
Mail donations to: SF Track and Cross Country Boosters. Attn: Middle School Track Project. P.O. Box 731. St. Francis, MN 55070.
Or stop at St. Francis True Value Hardware Store, 3645 Bridge St. N.W., to make a donation.
For more information, call Barb Anderson at 763-753-3050.
Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]