Ann Arbor school board names Pioneer running track after longtime coach Bryan Westfield – Ann Arbor News – The Latest News, Blogs, Photos & Videos –
Ann Arbor school board names Pioneer running track after longtime coach Bryan Westfield
by David Jesse | The Ann Arbor News
Thursday June 11, 2009, 8:08 AM

Bryan Westfield got choked up Wednesday night while speaking to the Ann Arbor school board about what it means to him to have the running track at Pioneer High School named after him.

It’s a scene that could be repeated this fall – with a different recipient.

That’s because board members, while voting unanimously to name the track after the longtime girls track coach, also told supporters of boys track coach Don Sleeman that they’d encourage some sort of a similar proposal from them.

The move by the board capped two weeks of discussion in the community about the district’s naming policy and who should be honored by having a facility named for them.

Westfield’s supporters starting working last year on getting the track named for him. He’s been a national and state coach of the year multiple times over his 31-year coaching career. He also was a teacher for more than 40 years. Supporters turned in 200 letters talking about Westfield’s impact on and off the track.
Two weeks ago, the school board received the nomination.

The next day, Sleeman’s supporters began wondering why he wasn’t being similarly honored for a career that has also spanned multiple decades and has also been recognized with state and national coach of the year honors.

On Wednesday night, Chris Berggren, who ran track and cross-country under Sleeman, made the case for Sleeman. He told the board something should have been done differently and both coaches should have been considered at the same time.
“There have been hurt feelings on all sides,” he said.

Sleeman’s supporters hope to come back in the fall with a proposal, Berggren said.

The group asked the board to delay its decision on the Westfield naming so that the two groups of supporters could work with administrators on some sort of compromise name.

But board members said they wanted to go through with honoring Westfield on Wednesday.

“It’s a wonderful problem for us to have,” board President Karen Cross said of having two outstanding coaches worthy of having the track named for them. “But tonight it is time for Mr. Westfield in as much as the process has been followed.”

Westfield said he was humbled by the honor.

“All of this is the result of what Ann Arbor Public Schools has done for me. The Ann Arbor Public Schools helped me to help others … and I appreciate everything that has happened to me over these 40 years.”

The current naming process was put in place a couple of years ago following the naming of the then-under construction Skyline High School. At the last minute, there was a big push to name the school after former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, who had just died. The board then did not have a policy on how it would name facilities.

The board eventually passed a policy that allowed them to name facilities, or parts of facilities, after employees that had given the district “extraordinary” service.

The first facility to be named under the policy was the pool at Pioneer. It was named for Denny Hill, who was the coach of both the boys and girls teams.

Categories: Track and Cross News

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