Going back to the beginning
This letter was penned by Coach Gordon Pynes in 1996 after Atlanta Rabbit Stadium was built and before the inaugural running of the Lions Club/Runnin’ Rabbs Relay.
By Gordon Pynes
Today will be a red letter day for Atlanta and certainly for me. It has been almost 25 years since anyone has seen a track meet here. Amazing…..but true. The Lions Club sponsored Runnin’ Rabbs Relays will change that.
Our girls and boys will once again have the opportunity to show their athletic skills before the home folks.
It has been a long road back. I joined the journey about ten years ago during a visit to see my dad who had just moved back to Atlanta after an absence of nearly 55 years. Always interested in sports facilities, I asked for a tour of the track. We finally found it back behind the stadium. It appeared somewhat like the city dump. Various rusty implements, weeds and some trash dotted a well-worn cinder path. My first thought, not much pride in this sport here.
Strangely enough, as fate would have it, I ended up coaching track at Atlanta High School with the 1987 season. My dream then became to get some pride back. It wasn’t easy but Saturday you will see it and feel it, the pride is back. Atlanta is proud of a great track facility and a top notch track program. Best of all you can now witness the kids who make up that program competing in it.
As the first race begins today, I will no doubt reflect back to the many memories that have led me to the moment. My first thoughts will go to my deceased wife Judy who supported my persistence, gave me her utmost patience and would not let me give up the dream.
Then to the athletes, the girls and boys who worked so hard to meld our desires for an outstanding track program.
Those who were champions and those who simply loved to compete as Runnin’ Rabbs. Each and everyone makes this day so special because the facility and meet are a tribute to them and their efforts. My reflections will also be on the many people who refused to say it couldn’t be done, but instead cried it must be done. Especially to Barron Christiansen who started Citizens on Track and Athletic Director Ben Scharnberg who encouraged my dream and quickly joined in upon his arrival here.
Finally, to the school board members and administration who saw it through and have supported all our athletic programs. A special mention to Assistant School Superintendent Bob McCord who oversaw the construction of the track and stadium.
On behalf of all Rabbit tracksters I thank the Lions Club for completing the dream. This time I hope track and field competition in the form of this meet will never again leave Atlanta. The Atlanta Lions Club Rabbit Relays. Ya’ll come! Ya’ hear.
Since the inception of the meet, the legendary track coach’s name has been installed and the program has won 18 district championships, one area championship, eight regional championships, two state-runner ups, four state championships, tons of medals and made plenty of memories.
As for the meet itself Atlanta’s boys won the 1996 meet and continued to do so until 2009. They won it again in 2011. To date the meet has only been cancelled twice in its history.
The girls have only won once back in 2007 but it’s no secret that the Atlanta Lions Club/Gordon Pynes/Runnin’ Rabbs Relay attracts some of the most talented and successful track programs in the state.