Current and former athletes, grateful parents, top-class and recreational runners, and local politicians all jogged (okay, drove) to Staples High School this morning.
The lanes around the football field were officially dedicated as the “Laddie Lawrence Track.” It was a fitting tribute to the man who, more than 50 years ago, began his career as an athlete there.
Best of all, Lawrence was on hand to enjoy the honor. He continues to coach 3 sports at his alma mater.
After earning a full scholarship to Southern Arkansas University, the 1964 Staples graduate embarked on a teaching and coaching career in Westport. As head of Staples’ cross country, indoor and outdoor track programs — for decades, girls as well as boys — Lawrence has won (perhaps) more championships than all other coaches at the school combined.
He’s amassed 34 undefeated seasons; 34 FCIAC titles; 42 state class or open championships; 2 New England titles … you get the idea.
He’s a member of the national, state and Fairfield County Halls of Fame.
Since 1966, Laddie — he’s known by one name, like Pele, Bono or Cher — has headed up the Road Runners Club. That’s about as long as he’s been in charge of the Westport Parks & Recreation summer road race series. And its Thursday evening age group track meets.
Congratulations, Laddie. Here’s to thousands of more wins, dozens of more trophies, and many more years enjoying “your” track.
FUN FACT: Two nearby athletic facilities at Staples are named for other coaching legends: Albie Loeffler Field (soccer) and Jinny Parker Field (field hockey). Both were physical education teachers when Lawrence attended the high school — and later became his coaching colleagues.I