By STEVE CORNELIUS, CJ Sports Editor
If you have ever attended a local high school track and field event in the past 34 years, you probably have heard of Joan Spurlock.
If you have ever walked onto the rubberized Somerset High School track, you probably noticed the name plate on the wall entitled ‘Joan Spurlock Track and Field Complex.’
And if you ever were a track and field athlete for Somerset High School or have spent a lot of time around local track meets, your life has probably been touched by Joan Spurlock.
For me personally, I fall into all three of those categories and, yes, my life was even touched by Joan Spurlock.
As a high school track athlete for Pulaski County High School back in the late 1970’s, Coach Spurlock was at almost every meet I competed at. And even though she coached for the opposing team, Coach Spurlock would always give me encouragement and helpful advice.
Thirty years later, I got the opportunity to coach with Joan Spurlock and it was during that time I truly realized what a special person she was.
During that period, I spent a lot of time with Joan, as she tried to teach me how to be a track coach. I made several visits to her home and each time she treated me like I was her own son by making sure I was properly fed.
I can remember arriving to track practices each day and meeting up with Joan at her office, which was located underneath the football field bleachers and was not much bigger than a broom closet. And each day, her small office would be jammed pack with kids sitting around talking to Coach Spurlock.
You see, Joan Spurlock has been part of Somerset track, and cross country, for nearly 37 years. And during that time, she has coached four state champion athletes, she has been inducted into the Kentucky Track and Cross County Coaches Association Hall of Fame and she has achieved a master level accreditation as an USA Track and Field Official.
Despite all her track and field accolades, Joan Spurlock was always in the sport for the kids. Everyone could see how much she enjoyed being around young track athletes, and her athletes shared a mutual fondness to their track coach/mother.
Nowadays, there is not a track meet that goes by where you don’t see former athletes, old acquaintances and track officials going up to hug the matriarch of Somerset track and field.
Joan Spurlock is truly an icon, not only around here, but for high school track and field in the entire state of Kentucky.
And in our own small part of the world, Joan Spurlock may well be known as the ‘Mother of Track and Field’, because that is what she has been to thousands of local athletes and friends.
So it was only fitting the local track classic be renamed to the Joan Spurlock Lake Cumberland Classic, which will be ran each spring on the Joan Spurlock Track.