May 27, 2011

State track and field meet takes miles of planning

When Bill Faflick walks around the state track and field meet today and Saturday at Cessna Stadium, he will be moving with purpose.

When Bill Faflick walks around the state track and field meet today and Saturday at Cessna Stadium, he will be moving with purpose.

There's a million things he needs to accomplish — coaches to deal with, questions to answer, problems to solve.

Faflick, the meet director for the past decade, is often credited for the smoothness of the meet, which has about 3,500 athletes from most every Kansas high school.

"To have that many people compete and it's always either ahead or right on schedule, it's a great meet," Garden Plain coach Todd Puetz said. "(Faflick) looks like he doesn't do anything, but he's doing everything. "

No matter the issue, Faflick, director of athletics for the Wichita school district, handles it with aplomb. He has a calm demeanor and is usually smiling.

"He's very measured and controlled and balances things," said Michael Draut, in his ninth season as East's track coach. "I think he's just a very good manager."

Thursday, Faflick, 49, arrived at Cessna Stadium at 10 a.m. and was cleaning a room used for weighing implements such as discuses.

At 10:30, four delivery men arrived from Northwest High School with several blue pads used around the pole vault pit. He turned to them, smiled, and said, "That's all you've got?"

There were only a fraction of the pads needed, so Faflick called several people and sent the delivery men to get them from Heights High School.

"That's just problem solving. Everyone likes a challenge, right?" Faflick said with another smile.

There will be more issues that Faflick might handle today and Saturday. They could include a sprinkler that suddenly turns on, a slick track surface, or a broken cross bar at the high-jump pit.

Maybe he'll have to deal with a rules violation or an unhappy coach.

"I trust Bill's judgment," said Rick Bowden, the assistant executive director for track at the Kansas State High School Activities Association. "If we've got an issue at one event and something else comes up, they go to Bill."

Count on Faflick being prepared. He's got multiple lists, but many of those items have already been checked off.

He can't control the weather, but he's got plans in place for any situation.

If it rains, there are extra towels, rakes and shovels for the field events, and plastic covers for the event workers to put over their papers. If it's extremely hot, there's water to put in the sand pits, which makes it easier to mark distances.

"The meet, just like any event, you want to be prepared in advance," he said. "Whatever you're hosting, you want to be ready at go time. That's the goal.

"If the facility isn't ready and it should be, you haven't done your job."

That's why he met with 35 to 40 workers on Monday to go over rules changes and concerns. He has 300 volunteers in place.

Faflick is quick to praise those workers for how well the meet goes. He points out he can call on coaches, athletic directors or Wichita State University employees for assistance.

"The event officials, most of them have lengthy experience in track and field, are former athletes, longtime coaches, former starters," he said. "They've been around the sport for a long time.

"... And we've made a strong effort to not just be Wichita folks, but people who come from different parts of the state. They come and are part of the event staff, which makes it a true state meet."

He's included his family in the running of the meet, too.

His children — Hope, 18; Jake, 16; Nate, 14; and Abbi, 12 — have attended the meet since he coached track at Southeast, which he stopped doing when he was hired as the City League athletic director in 1999.

His children make copies of results for the media, post results — and do anything else needed.

"They also recruit other student volunteers that we use," Faflick said. "Kids that need community service are always welcome to post results, turn the performance boards, carry sweats and boxes."

His wife, Diann, brings food and water to workers who can't take a break from their jobs, while his mom, Lois, hands out packets to coaches.

When it was pointed out to Faflick that he's seemingly got everything under control, he shrugged and smiled. Again.

"Hey, this is a great opportunity for kids, and we want this to be first class for them," he said.

He laughed briefly, then said, "and it's more fun than being at a desk."

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