At 25 years old, the Jack Wallace Memorial Track is due for a resurfacing and helping fundraise are two retiring Oak Bay High teachers, Keith Butler and Mike Sheffer.
“We want it to be our parting gift, to get this track resurfaced,” Sheffer said.
The total cost to resurface the track is estimated at $240,000, Butler said.
The two have shared the head coaching duties for the school’s track and field and cross country running teams for 33 years. Butler started in 1987 and Sheffer joined him before taking over officially in 2011. In that time the school has won a combined 131 Island track and field and cross country championships (junior and senior girls and boys teams).
|Dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new Jack Wallace Memorial Track in 1994. (Oak Bay High Photo)
This summer Oak Bay High is hosting the Canadian Francophone Games, July 14 to 18, but the track events are likely to occur at the University of Victoria – unless the school could gain some momentum.
“There are holes in it, there are places where it’s worn through to the concrete, and it’s overdue,” Butler said. “If we can get one last push it’s conceivable we could host the track events for the Canadian Francophone Games here.”
The track was built in 1994 and is one of the Commonwealth Games legacies. After a quarter-century, and under the spikes of thousands of athletes, the track is worn down and in need of resurfacing. Oak Bay High students and athletes started the campaign in 2018.
Kiwanis was an initial contributor of the Jack Wallace Memorial Track and, at the time, the school did a fundraising campaign where every single teacher advisory group raised money to contribute to the track. It took tremendous support from the community and school and now Butler and Sheffer are hoping to capture that community support again.
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Some of the funding is already in place. The Greater Victoria School District will contribute some while a group of alumni has pledged to match any donations up to $20,000. Sheffer said they’re hoping a Go Fund Me campaign by the Francophone Games can make up the shortfall.
“If every student who ran on this track on our team wants to give us a retirement gift, they can donate to resurface the track,” Sheffer said.
The Go Fund Me account is at ca.gofundme.com/f/track-resurfacing-oak-bay-high-school.