GREENSBURG — 51 years ago it was 1968.
Gas cost was around 34 cents per gallon, “Hey Jude” by the Beatles was blaring on radios throughout the U.S. and Green Bay Packers fans were celebrating their victory in Super Bowl II.
1968 was also the year that Dr. Rodney King began his legacy as an official of track and field in Indiana.
“Interestingly enough, I landed as a track and field official 51 years ago after first dropping out of college,” Dr. King said. “Steve House was the track and field coach at the time and asked me to officiate because there was a shortage. There still is a shortage, but there was even one back then. I stuck with officiating and even coached while officiating for a little while at Whiteland High School.”
During last Saturday’s track and field state finals, King’s service to the sport over the course of more than half a century was recognized.
King, a retired administrator from Greensburg Junior High School and current Greensburg resident, was named the recipient of the 2019 Interscholastic Athletic Official Award in the sport of track and field.
Annually, the IHSAA in cooperation with the National Federation of Interscholastic Officials Association, recognizes and honors an outstanding official in each of 11 sports during the school year.
The officials selected for this distinction have gone above and beyond to serve their association, community, and the IHSAA.
51 years in, King says there are not too many differences in the sport from when he started, but claims that the sport has still grown with specialized coaches and more.
“Truthfully, not much has changed for the bad or good,” King said. “But one positive is that I can honestly say that the kids have gotten better in terms of attitude. There are some really great kids that participate in track and field. They are kind and caring and a pleasure to deal with.”
Dr. King has been a licensed official for 51 years and has worked more than 40 sectionals, 30 regionals and the state finals.
He is a member of the Mid-Hoosier Officials Association and has served as an IHSAA Rules Interpreter and Clinician from 2005-17.
One of the teams he sees often, the East Central Trojans, had a girls relay team participate at the IHSAA state finals last week. Dr. King and that group was able to share a moment that days later was still bringing a tear to King’s eye.
“After their run, I walked up to them to give them fist bumps and congratulate them,” King said. “One of the girls ran up and just gave me a bear hug and said that I have always been her favorite official. That, as much as anything on Saturday, meant the most to me.”
Contact: James Howell Jr., 812-663-3111 x 7003; email@example.com