The track at Case Western Reserve University's Case Field has a new name. As of April 26th it will be the "Coach Bill Sudeck Track" after the University's legendary coach, mentor and friend.
Sudeck, who coached cross country, track and field, and men's basketball at Case Institute of Technology (CIT) and Case Western Reserve for 46 years, died of cancer in 2000. Annually the university hosts a cross country race [Bill Sudeck Classic] and men's basketball tournament [Bill Sudeck Holiday Tournament] named in his honor.
"Coach dedicated his life to athletics at Case," said James Wyant, a former captain of the CIT Roughriders' cross country team under Sudeck. "It just seemed appropriate that the excellent track facility that you [the University] now have has his name associated with it. He pushed us hard, but also understood we had a fairly heavy academic load. He really cared about us."
Wyant (pictured to the right), who graduated from CIT in 1965 with a degree in physics, has shown how much he cares about Coach Sudeck in making the naming of the outdoor track possible by a generous gift to the athletic department. The dedication ceremony for the naming of the track will be Saturday, April 26 at 1:30 p.m.
"The generosity of Jim Wyant allows our department to properly recognize Coach Bill Sudeck for his remarkable service to our university," Athletic Director Dave Diles stated. "Coach Sudeck's legacy, while already firmly established, is now properly recognized by all who practice, compete, coach and visit our track."
Sudeck's daughter Sue and three grandsons, Dan, Tim, and Scott, along with many past and present student-athletes, University officials, friends and family, will be in attendance for the unveiling.
"I remember one winter [as a student-athlete] when I running in the snow, many years before we had the indoor track," explained Wyant, who continues to run, recreationally, to this day. "I was only hoping that someday I would make enough money to come back and help the athletic department in some way."
To say Wyant has been successful since leaving University Circle over four decades ago would be an understatement. He went on to be a pioneer in optical science and currently serves as dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona.
Wyant is considered a pioneer in many fields of optics and has won numerous awards, including the SPIE's Gold Medal Award and the Photonics Circle of Excellence Award. He also holds numerous patents and has published more than 150 papers on optics. He is also an entrepreneur having founded multiple companies, most notably WYKO Corporation, a laser interferometer company that he started in the early 1980s. To read more about Wyant's legacy click here.
So what advice would this alumnus have for current student-athletes?
"Always work hard, always do the best you can and do things that you like to do and you will succeed," Wyant said.
Per Wyant's wishes, part of his contribution will be used to create the "Sudeck Outstanding Student-Athlete" award, which will be handed out for the first time at the end of April. The honor will annually go to an individual who best exemplifies the attributes of the Case Western Reserve student-athlete in the spirit of the legendary coach. Athletic and academic achievement, along with leadership on the team, in the classroom and on campus will all be factors in earning the award.