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Jefferson community helps put on greatest show on turf

Georgia Olympics has become a staple in track and field

POSTED: May 12, 2010 8:21 p.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Jefferson High track coach and school athletic director Tim Corbett has prepared the legendary Jefferson High stadium for another state track and field meet beginning on Thursday.

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JEFFERSON — The boys state track meet, otherwise known as the Georgia Olympics, aren’t simply a statewide event.

The Georgia Olympics, held annually on Bryan-Keen Track at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson, are a community-of-Jefferson event.

The stadium bustles in the days prior to the start of the all-classification state track meet.

Fresh red, white and blue lines are drawn for the various field events.

Hurdles are placed on the track and tents are put up.

Parents of Jefferson track athletes blow debris from the field and weed eat around it. The Jackson County 4H Club washes windows, cleans the pressbox and makes sure the venue is in pristine condition.

Jefferson resident Christina Healan, whose husband Tommy has been the announcer for the meet for well over a decade, grows and pots flowers that fellow resident Jody Porter sets out around the venue.

And it is all done under the watchful eye of Jefferson athletic director and boys track coach Tim Corbett.

Corbett grew up about a quarter of a mile from Memorial Stadium, ran track for Jefferson and graduated in 1986.

His coach was James Pinion, who was also on the track team at Jefferson and was coached by the venue’s namesake.
Thusly, even moreso than it being the state track championships, the Georgia Olympics are a community event.

“We have had, and still do have, a nucleus of people who care about this event, and it helps us,” Corbett said. “New schools do events like this with a melting pot of people thrown together and they pull it off and it’s great. But it’s neat to have consistency over time.”

The first Georgia Olympics was held in Jefferson in May of 1972.

According to Georgia High School Athletics Association Assistant Director of Media Relations, Steve Figueroa, the idea was the brainchild of Morris Bryan, who was the president of the Jefferson Mills from 1948 until his death in 1984.

“Mr. Bryan loved track and field,” Figueroa said. “He was instrumental in getting a modern track built in Jefferson and he came up with the idea of the Georgia Olympics, where all five classes — four at the time — of boys teams would come together on the same weekend and have a first-class event.

“He was the public address announcer at the event from 1972 until his death. Many college coaches and former Olympic athletes have come to the Georgia Olympics (including Jesse Owens) and called it one of the best-run track events in the world.”

Preparations for the three-day event, which begins at noon today, begin almost the minute the previous year’s ends.

“To bring everyone to one site is a huge undertaking,” Corbett said. “When I do something for a meet in February, the state track meet is in the back of my mind.

“We stage for the state meet at the Jefferson Relays and the region meet that we host. They’re both practice runs because we want to make sure have everything.”

For Corbett, that includes trustworthy, reliable people. And he’s quick to note that in Jefferson, those type of people are a dime a dozen.

For example, Tuesday evening after painting lines for the field events for the better part of a day, Corbett needed to go home.

“I have a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old and needed to see them,” he said. “I went and jumped on the trampoline with them before they went to bed.”

When he returned to Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, refreshed and ready to pick up where he left off, the work he was planning to do had already been done.

Nothing had been vandalized, nothing had been moved; more work had simply gotten done.

“I turned the lights on before I left (Tuesday),” he said. “I don’t know how long other people were out here, but we couldn’t do this without them.”

Nor could Jefferson do it without other coaches.

While wondering around the track Wednesday, Corbett received a call from the track coach at Lovett who had a question, yes, but also wanted to know if Corbett needed him to do anything.

“(The Georgia Olympics) are important to all coaches involved,” Corbett said. “It they are in coaching for the right reason, they will care about this type of thing because it’s about the kids.”

Former Marietta coach Roscoe Googe, who’s a member of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, also called Corbett to ask what he could do.

Googe started his coaching career at North Cobb before settling down for his 30-year stint at Marietta. He won two state cross country titles with the Warriors and five state track championships — four boys and one girls — with the Blue Devils.

He can also lay claim to 20 region championships over the same tenure.

“He’s been out of coaching for a while now, but he just wants to come help,” Corbett said. “We welcome that kind of support and help.”

Today at noon, when the preparations are complete and the track meet begins, 16 high school students will begin working three-hour shifts. They will even the sand on the long jump, pick up the discus and the shotput, and hold the measuring tape used by the judges. There will be two adults, comprised of both community volunteers and Jefferson High staff, per field event to monitor the goings on.

There will be camera operators, backup camera operators, starters, backup starters, timers, backup timers and two people in charge of checking in athletes.

“We’ll even go as far as to assign who needs to bring in the trash cans on Friday and pull them out Friday night,” Corbett said. “And everything in between and it’s done mostly by volunteers.

“There’s pressure for me and anyone who comes into this program. You want to do well athletically and do well with this meet. We really try and give our best effort and put our best foot forward.”


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