Last month I went to Oregon, specifically Eugene, Oregon. It was the World Track and Field Championships and to say it was amazing would be an understatement.
Recall I’ve mentioned in previous articles that our son went to college at the University of Oregon and to be able to visit his alma mater and attend a sports event of that caliber was truly wonderful.
Hayward Field had changed quite a bit since I had last seen it back in 2018. It is named in honor of Bill Hayward, who was the track and field coach from 1904 to 1947. It began to be refurbished in 2018 and was completed in 2020.
It is no secret that Phil Knight and his wife Peggy were instrumental in the funding of the renovations as well as 50 other donors. Phil is the cofounder of Nike. It is a visually appealing stadium from every angle and can be modified to accommodate 25,000 people.
There is a multi-level tower, and it has already become a campus landmark, due to its exquisite structure. It has a lobby, an observation deck, viewing areas and you can take the stairs or the elevator to the top.
It was made to resemble a torch, with metal and steel that form a flare upward and outward.
It is stunning!
But what truly made this event was the ability to see the different people from around the world who came to support their athletes. From the families to the friends, to the fans and spectators, everyone was a part of the journey.
Many people were dressed in their native country attire and although at times there was a language barrier, that didn’t really matter because smiling and cheering and being a part of this experience was the shared common denominator.
There were also a family of unofficial mascots there, the Osprey birds who made their nest just above the school of law building.
The crowd also cheered the young osprey who was learning to fly and nailing it just like the athletes who were participating and whose hard work allowed them to be a part of the championships.
Think about that for a moment, let it resonate inside. Then imagine the athletes getting ready to perform at their individual or team events. Whether it’s running the 100 meters, being part of a relay, throwing the javelin or pole vaulting, or the high jump, they are the masters of excellence.
Imagine all the years of training that they had put in, and now it’s their moment to shine.
We purchased the tickets over a year ago, it was our first family “real vacation” since COVID. In fact, I had not been on a plane for over four years.
The COVID years of restriction and trying to find any sense of normal was hard to say the least. I remembered in June 2020 just around Father’s Day and we all went to San Luis Obispo for a weekend, only to come home to find out that the travel restrictions were back in place.
So, really, we did not do much in the way of travel other than a couple of trips to San Diego, so you can understand how nice it was to plan the trip to Oregon.
I was proactive Jen, and I secured the hotel rooms a year earlier before the supply and demand law of economics 101 caused the hotels and motel rooms to be quadruple the normal amount. I also reserved the rental car early.
And we stayed in nearby Cottage Grove, which was about 18 miles from the campus and the track and field events.
Cottage Grove is a quaint town. The population is just over 10,000 as of the last census taken in 2020. We stayed in The Best Western and it was close to the freeway, with so many amenities nearby, plenty of places to eat, a Grocery Outlet and let’s not forget the Dutch Bros where the Kicker coffee is a basic staple to start one’s day.
I’m always amazed at the kindness of Oregonians, where a chance meeting with a stranger, or the gas attendant who fills your tank, the employees of the restaurants, or the market and in our case the people who worked at The Best Western.
I felt like I was surrounded by family.
The greenery of all the trees that are ever present in the landscape are truly spectacular. The mountains and the hills are gentle reminders of a calmer existence. Each day we traveled to watch the track and field events to witness greatness, those memories will stay with me for a long time.
Being able to see people champion each other regardless of the outcome, to see everyone cheering for the athletes and to be able to see them, whether they won first, second or third place, walk the track with the flag of their country draped over their shoulders, was simply incredible.
I’d like to think that is what defines the “good” in everyone. No political jabbing, no finger-pointing just a show of respect for each other.
And seeing that firsthand is something I will cherish always.
Jennfer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.