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Kent School District athletic director receives prestigious award

Dave Lutes - Courtesy photo
Dave Lutes
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For the Reporter

Kent School District Athletic Director Dave Lutes has received the United States Track & Field (Pacific Northwest Association) 2014 Youth Contributor of the Year Award for the "revolutionary" meet management program he instituted at the district.

The prestigious award is rarely presented to someone not currently working as an active coach.

"I'm honored to be recognized for this program," Lutes said. "We strive for consistency and high standards of judging on a weekly basis. Our student athletes will benefit as they progress to the post-season."

Lutes identified quality issues with the officiating of track and field meets. He found that student athletes were not receiving consistent officiating, causing them to be at a disadvantage during post-season competition.

In response, Lutes developed a program that recruited, trained and certified USATF officials who would work at every high school meet within the district. The program has improved the safety, consistency and quality of each event.

Each meet will include 13 paid officials and 20 volunteers provided by the home team to support the officials at each of the events. KSD now requires all paid officials to hold a current USATF membership, attend the USATF Officials Training, complete the course, and become certified.

Safety first

Along with standardizing meet officiation, Lutes also improved athlete safety by establishing funding for a new javelin runway and investing in new track surface and equipment, making KSD's track facility, French Field, state of the art and capable of hosting large-scale high school post-season meets.

Prior to Lutes' new program, coaches were responsible for finding volunteers to officiate at meets and for seeing that they were trained. As a result, athletes could go through an entire season with sub-par officiating and be confused when during post-season they were judged by unfamiliar standards. The new program has lessened possible liabilities, freed up coaches to concentrate on helping the athletes, and enhanced the quality of competition.

"Dave's work is worthy of this recognition, but more important is the benefit Dave's work brings to our high-achieving students," said Superintendent Edward Lee Vargas. "Athletics builds character and teaches students the value of teamwork, goal-setting, and perseverance. Improving the quality of track and field competition in this way helps students as they learn how to apply these values to life."

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