Barriers to Sport-How a Track Event Connected a Community

This story started in 2007 when I had a crazy idea of trying to build a track at my children’s school in Beaverton.  We successfully raised money and built a 320 meter track that we coined the Holy Trinity Track and Field of Dreams.

The model was to be repeated a few years later when my friend Rich Recker who was instrumental in building a bridge within a community at a school in North Portland that was scheduled to be closed.  Rich and I dreamed up a way to elevate the school in the communities eyes by helping transform it with a world class track and turf field that would bring the interesection of the students as well as bringing world and national caliber athletes to come and train at Roosevelt HS.  The St Johns Teddy Roosevelt Athletic Complex team wanted to make this a community project that would attract athletes from Nike, Brooks, University of Portland as well as youth and high school track and cross country, soccer, football and rugby programs that have made Roosevelt Track and Field  a vibrant part of the community.

    We accomplished that goal and put in a track that had collegiate level jump runways, a steeplechase pit and a year after we dedicated the track we hosted a Portland Track Twilight Meet that delivered two sub 4 minute miles as well a steeplechase and world class javelin throw by Olympian Cyrus Hostetler.

Roosevelt HS Track dedicated in 2012

We dedicated the track in 2012 and had the opportunity for Evan Jager and Carrie Dimoff to come make the intial splash over the water jump early in the Spring. The students from Roosevelt watched the future Olympic Medalist practice and understand the event.

Evan Jager taking the first splash.

Carrie Dimoff prepping for the Trials

This story continues with the current coaching staff at Roosevelt. The facility is ready to host bigger meets and in March of 2017 they are hosting the first annual Teddy Opener hosted to by the Rider Track Club . I received a call from one of my Central Catholic Coaches that worked at the newly rebuilt school to ask where the steeplechase barriers were for the track.  I let her know that when we hosted the RoughRider Twilight Meet that we borrowed the other barriers from a local school.

This is the rest of the story……  

The Track and Field community is deeply connected and outside of the competitive environment we love seeing programs succeed. The state of Oregon and the City of Portland have some of the best that track and field has to offer and those of us that grew up with it want that to continue and inspire those that are just beginning to discover the sport.

We are so fortunate to have such high caliber track and field in Oregon with athletes living among us. There are events like the Portland Track Festival that celebrate and bring together middle school, high school, collegiate, emerging professionals and world class athletes to compete during the summer. The more events that we can have that bring the Track and Field Culture together the stronger the foundation of the sport.

The vision for developing this amazing facility at Roosevelt was to do that in a community that could use it the most.  The collaborative effort from the community, St Johns TRAC, Nike, Anderson Construction and eventually PPS made this a special place.

The facility was built but still needed some fine tuning with equipment and gear including uniforms for the Roosevelt HS team.

I was thrilled when I heard that they were putting on a meet that would bring in  a festival like atmosphere at the first Teddy Open.

I think it is great when an organization prototypes and idea and then figures out how to make it work.

The RHS team put a steeplechase event on the entry list and then realized that they did not have the other barriers.

Leveraging Resources from within the community

I received a call from an old friend who happened to be the head coach at Willamette University.  In preparation for the German and Swiss Junior National Teams using Willamette University’s track as their practice facility during the 2014 World Junior Championships, the purchased a new set of steeplechase barriers because the old ones were a bit worn out.

Knowing that some schools could potentially use older barriers I went down to check them out with one of my Central Catholic coaches that is one of the most passionate track and field people out there, Vince Cooney. Vince just so happened to have a DUMP TRUCK that we drove down and took the broken down barriers from the weeds beside the track at Willamette. 

Fast Forward 2017

I called Vince to check on the status of the broken steeplechase barriers and they were stored nicely in a barn somewhere near Portland waiting for a call like this.

I mentioned to Vince that Roosevelt was hosting a meet and did not have barriers of their own and that it would be fantastic if we could rebuild them and donate them on behalf of the Portland Track Community.


Vince happens to have connections in forestry, lumber mills and is as close to McGyver as I have known someone.

He started with a 140 year old fallen tree in the forest near Portland.

The beams have been cut by a local lumberman.

The barriers are on their way to be joined together with adjustable aluminum standards.

And by weeks end ( March 3, 2017) will be placed on the SteepleChaseBarrier marks on Roosevelt’s Track.

Home Stretch-Roosevelt HS 2013

Olympian Evan Jager @ Roosevelt HS with the Michael Bergmann

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