With dark clouds moving in and thunder rolling in the distance, rain seemed evident for the near future.
“It’s not going to rain on us. You know how I know? Luck,” said Anthony Davis.
Davis has been hosting the all-comers track and field meets at South Tahoe Middle School for the past 25 years, but his tenure came to a close Wednesday night.
“I hope that one of the high school coaches will pick it up next year and continue it but, for right now, for me, I’m done because of my job. It’s full time, I work in the valley and I just don’t have the time anymore to do it otherwise, and if I had more support I would,” Davis said.
He works for the Douglas County Parks and Recreation by running the sports leagues in Gardnerville and drives up every Wednesday to host the meets. The parks and recreation has been supporting the meets on and off over the years, but recently Davis has been supporting them out of his own personal pocket.
“We don’t charge for these meets so, it’s unlike going to a race where kids are going to show up and they’re going to get an award. This is more for participation and family fun because that’s what it’s about and I get to teach the sport and introduce it to new comers to track and field,” Davis said.
The all-comer meets started back in the 1970s following the Olympic Trials at Echo Summit and Davis started participating in 1986 when he moved to Tahoe. He participated until the 90s before becoming a host. Occasionally, he would start the race then jump and just last week he raced in the mile, the 100, 400 and 50.
“The meet, of course, is preceding Anthony, but Anthony has been the heart and soul of the whole thing for the last (25 years),” said Bill Harvey, who has been participating in the meets for the last 40 years. “They brought the track down from Echo where they had the Olympic Trials, then it got to the point where it could no longer safely be used then there was a gap when there wasn’t any and Anthony, once the track came in, started running them again.”
Back then, the meets could see crowds of up to 120 people, but the numbers have been dwindling to about 25.
“In my opinion, it has to do with club sports in the summer time. Back when we were starting these, there was no such thing as club soccer or club anything and it was compete with your school, off for the summer and be with your families and now you just don’t see that,” Davis said.
Over the last few decades, Davis coached track and field at various schools in the community from the elementary level up to college. As a coach, he would have the support of his athletes to help run the meets, but has lost those connections essentially making the meets a one man show. These meets give him the opportunity to coach and introduce the sport to newcomers. People of all ages come out to compete and just a few years ago had a 15-month old running up to today’s oldest runner who is 76 years old and participates in every race each week.
Davis was instrumental in moving the track from Echo Summit to its current location at the middle school and his only wish is to see it to see it continue to be used.
“As long as people use this thing I’m OK. We’re the only track that I can think of that’s open to the public all year round. Everywhere else there’s chains and gates and everything,” Davis said. “It’s a sad day because I’ve been doing this a long time.”