FMHS former coach, AD, teacher honored with two awards from state track officials
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Timm Lamb jokes that the Iowa Association of Track Officials must have run out of people to honor.
The deprecation isn’t lost on those who know the 30-plus year instructor, coach, and activities director at Fort Madison High School. And it certainly wasn’t lost on a group of his peers who honored him last month as the 2021 Boys Track Official of the Year and Track Official of the Year, according to the association’s website.
Lamb was a track and cross-country coach for the Bloodhounds for more than three decades and even served as coach while he was also activities director for about five years.
After suffering a stroke, Lamb cut back on his activities and turned his coaching duties over to Brian Mendez. He then ran for school board and served as president for a number of years.
“When you start, at least when I did, you do it because you want to do it, not because of what you’re gonna get out of it. Most coaches want to win. You’re competitive and that’s why you’re an athlete.
“When we won the state cross country title in 1979, I had some coach come up to me afterward and say, ‘Don’t expect to win it again’, and I said “Well, I expect to win it every year otherwise, why am I doing this.”
Lamb said he was realistic enough to know he wouldn’t win it every year, but that’s the motivation, not what you get out of it.
“This is a personal award that makes you feel good and makes you glad you’re doing it.”
Lamb said he started running when his mother made him run down to the corner grocery store to get things in a pinch.
“Mom would say, ‘can you run down to the grocery store for me’ and I took that literally and ran all the way and back. It wasn’t like 10 miles or anything, but I liked it,” he said.
He added with a laugh that he turned to cross country because he realized he couldn’t beat anybody in a sprint.
“I couldn’t outrun anybody in the 100-yard dash, but I could outrun everybody in the longer runs. And I always wondered to myself, this guys gets to practice to run 10 seconds and I have to do this how long? Something isn’t right here.”
But he said he’s met many, many people and athletes and got to travel following athletes while doing something he loves.
It’s no stretch to see Lamb at the state track meets in official IATO gear working the track at different intervals and coordinating runners and events. He stops short of calling it a hobby at this point in his retirement, but more giving back to the sport that he’s been part of since his youth.
“I don’t know if you call it a hobby at this point, but I started running in 6th grade and ran all through junior high, high school, and college, and then got a little competitive afterwards. Then I started coaching when I came here in 1973. It’s a way right now to kind of give back to a sport that I participated in.”
Lamb came to Fort Madison from Hammond, Indiana where he’s installed in the Hammond High Hall of Fame. After running for Drake University for four years and getting his teaching degree, he came to Fort Madison looking for a job… and found a life.
He’s taught and coached for 25 years and continued to coach as AD for another five years. Lamb is also in the Fort Madison High School Hall of Fame.
On Tuesday, Lamb was at the site of the bridge being installed as part of the Fort Madison PORT Trail in the 1600 block of Avenue B. The bridge will allow users of the path to stay on the trail rather than veer out into the road.
He said in his day it was all road running and there were no paths.
“We were on the roads and hills basically, and fighting puddles in streets and cars. There wasn’t any bike path or anything like that. I was a firm believer in just putting the miles in. If you get those in, the rest of it will come,” he said.
Now he shares that experience and passion with his granddaughter Allison, who’s 22:16.7 as a freshman this year was 39th best at the state cross country qualifier. The top 15 go to the state meet.
Lamb has had an officiating certificate for 48 years and getting that award from his peers means a lot to him.
“I look at it as people appreciate what you’re doing and you must doing a pretty decent job or otherwise they wouldn’t do that stuff.”
Fort Madison’s Roger Poage was honored in 2014 by the IATO as Junior High Official of the Year.