Volunteer Spotlight - January 2010 - Gary Droze & Maclay School

Judy Alexander is taking a break from the ‘Spotlight’ this month. In her place, the venerable Gary Droze has whipped up a delightful piece for you to enjoy. This modest GWTC Hall of Famer is a runner, teacher, coach and husband who volunteers thousands of hours every year hosting cross country and track meets, coaching/hosting Tuesday night intervals at FSU, writing an informative weekly column for the Democrat, and generally making himself available for anyone who needs anything related to running. He’s also an award-winning fisherman!


“If only these walls could talk.” That’s what I was thinking as I approached my subject for this month’s Volunteer Spotlight interview. Why? A goodly number of past interviewees have accomplished so much for Tallahassee runners that they can be dubbed veritable institutions of volunteerism. My only chance for a comparable subject was to interview a literal institution. So this month, the spotlight shines on Maclay School, an institution of higher learning that also happens to be a longtime host and sponsor of area running events and programs. From the Breakfast on the Track Mile, to the GWTC Summer Grand Prix Series, to the many free middle school and high school cross-country and track meets, Maclay School has served the running community ceaselessly for the last two decades.

But, how to coax words from a non-living object? Following considerable research (three consecutive viewings of Frosty the Snowman), I had my plan. After sailing an old silk hat onto the roof of Maclay School, I pulled out a list of questions and a microphone. Here’s the transcript:

QUESTION: “Many of our mainstay volunteers have combined respectable running careers with volunteer service in the shape of hosting races. Felton Wright, Fran McLean, Jeff Nielsen, Wes Bruner, Seeley Gutierrez, Hobson Fulmer, David Yon, Herb Wills, Olivia Swedberg, Joe Dexter, Lisa Johnson, and Stephanie Liles are but a few examples of race-day threats who took time out from their own training programs to provide racing opportunities for others. In the absence of a running background, what prompted you to become involved in so many races?”
MACLAY SCHOOL: (No response. The school resource officer has been observing from a distance with quiet alarm, and is now heading towards me). 

QUESTION: “Okayyy. We’ll get back to that one. My next question involves your willingness to endure wear and tear – and to share, without complaint. Very few facilities welcome constant use. One superb example is Florida State University’s Mike Long Track. At most universities, public use of the track is discouraged, tightly restricted, or downright prohibited. Yet FSU maintains a tradition of genuine accommodation, regarding the running public. That accommodation reached mind-blowing levels during the last Olympic Games buildup, when world-class sprinter Walter Dix patiently shared track lanes with the GWTC interval group. This brand of cooperation starts at the top, and NCAA Track & Field Team Champion Coach Bob Braman deserves credit for being so generous with the grounds. Do you ever regret that providing such frequent access to the Maclay facility is accelerating wear on the track surface?” 
MACLAY SCHOOL: (Again, no response. The resource officer is now close enough that I can see him adjusting the setting on his taser). 

QUESTION: “Um, it looks like we need to wrap this up quickly. Do you ever feel as if you’re taken for granted? I’m thinking of folks like Jeanne O’Kon, Peg Griffin, TJ Cutchins, Sue Kelly, Ray Hanlon, Chris Sumner, Julie Clark, Brian Corbin, Bill Lott. These souls, and a few others like them, are as predictable as the tides. Whether the job is race registration, timing, training group organization, or just plain BEING THERE, they offer service with a smile. I dread the day when one of these volunteers decides to throw in the towel, and sleep in on weekends. Are you worried about burnout yourself?”
MACLAY SCHOOL: (Utter silence, except for the resource officer demanding that I explain the nature of the black device on the roof. I offer to retrieve it, partly because I intend to return it to Goodwill for a refund, but mostly because that puts me out of taser range).