Nothing dampens the spirit of a Hound

Rainy meet shows the energy behind FM's athletic programs


You know, there are things that make your nose crinkle up and put a chill in ya.
For me it’s wet socks. I hate wet socks. It’s a legitimate peeve that makes you feel cold inside and beg for coffee, a t-shirt, and pajama bottoms.
I left Thursday’s track meet before the boys 4x100 because it was raining, THE WHOLE TIME, and Fort Madison AD Jeff Lamb wouldn’t even turn on the damn lights let alone close the roof.
He did however have some magical powers because when I pressed him about the lights for the second time, he lost it and pointed to his watch and CABLOOOEY, on come the lights. I'm not making that up. He mumbled something incoherent, smiled, and then literally pointed to his watch, the lights come on, and he throws his arms out and head back like Creed frontman Scott Stapp singing "My Sacrifice". Irony has no bounds. I absolutely love the people of Fort Madison.
And it's not abnormal for Lamb to be able to pull off miracles, especially around the lighting systems at Jim Youel Field. He did it in his first year back here when it looked like there would be no lights for a football game. He probably has a light “angel” somewhere.
The point here isn’t that I bailed on the track meet because my feet were wet, although I did, and they were.
It's that for the first time in a long time Fort Madison has hosted a multitude of track meets in one season and looked like champs. I think they had three varsity events, two of which were boys and girls combined, and numerous junior high meets.
Not even a steady rain can dampen the drive of a Bloodhound. They just keep going and going.
And they always seem to be able to pull them off without a hitch. At least that's what we see, and that's what's important.
Now Jeff’s entire family including the pets usually have a radio, clipboard and pen in hand, as do the senior golf guys who routinely duck and cover in the discus field. And as dangerous as that is, that’s funny right there. Bill Schulte, Larry Smith, Terry Hope and others trying to move out of the way of flying discs is like a game show.
I almost got hit Thursday taking photos from about 150 feet away. That caused me to rethink the humor of it all.
Everybody’s favorite golfie Doug Snaadt did the Southeast Conference high jump Thursday night in a Cubs hardhat and umbrella. Clearly he thought he would be in the discus landing zone, but ended up doing the high jump. So in the end he just looked like another sad, demented diehard Cubs fan.  They're so sweet. The rain poured off the brim of that hardhat like a bad gutter. I would think however, that he probably had the same internal water damage.
There’s not really anyone better at starting track events than Roger Poage and the patriarch Timm Lamb. Although Roger usually has to yell at me a couple times per meet to get outta the damn way, he’s a peach and runs a tight ship.
And Timm is always good for a laugh as he barks at Jeff and his other son Patrick who are doing yeoman’s work just keeping the herded cats that are track athletes in the right place, and the right lane at the right time.
No, it’s not yet the Mt. Pleasant or Washington affairs - but we’re getting there. The throwing area is improving each week, the track is still an excellent surface, the coaches are cooperative when they’re not disappearing in the throngs of the athletes, and crowds of weird people that just happen to be on the field for no reason, to duck questions from a thug reporter.
Brian Mendez, never ducks, he can always be found near the side-by-side with some contraption that prints out receipts with time stamps on them. Mendez has been around track for almost three decades and has the same look of excitement on his face every time I creep up for a comment. He loves the program, the kids, and the legacy he’s troweled in brick by brick.
Fort Madison is building it's own new legacy in track and field. We have some great performances this year from great kids. Adam Sobczak hasn’t come across a hurdle he can’t look down on as he sails by. Avery and Addison Rump are two of the most complete athletes we’ve seen a while. And they both are just lovely doves in a flock. Mara Smith will beat you at just about anything, and Caden Barnes can throw a lead ball like a musket.
We’ve got athletes, we’ve got coaches, and we’ve got support systems that we should stack up against anyone in the area. Will we ever best the economics that are pillaging rural Iowa high school sports programs? Who knows. Maybe something will balance things out a bit, and the state has taken a few steps like they did with incorporating free and reduced lunch data into the BED classification system.
We have a ways to go, but the foundation is growing as was seen this season. We've got the right people, with the right ambitions, in the right community.
And it wasn’t just the wet socks - running exhausts me. Even if I’m just watching – But that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

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