The 38th Annual Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Invitational Track and Field meet will be held on Saturday, June 1 at Evanston Township High School. This year’s track meet will be run as a joint venture with District 65 and ETHS District 202. It has been renamed the Willie May & Ron Risch-Track & Field Invitational. Both men were teachers, coaches, and leaders in track and field in the Evanston community.
Willie May attended Indiana University, where he won seven Big Ten championships in the hurdles between 1957 and 1959. He won the silver metal at the1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, losing by .01 second to teammate Lee Calhoun. After winning another silver medal in the 1963 Pan American Games, May decided to begin his teaching and coaching career.
Willie May became the head coach of the track and field team at ETHS in 1975 and continued in that position through 2006. He served as athletic director at ETHS for 16 years, from 1983 to 2000. As the track and field coach, May led the Wildkits to 24 consecutive Central Suburban League Conference championships from 1976 to 1999, 5 IHSA state trophies, and one state championship in 1979. After retiring as head coach in 2006, May served as an assistant coach to his successor, Don Michelin. He continued in this capacity until his death in 2012 of amyloidosis.
Coach May has been inducted into the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame (2000), the Illinois Track & Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2007), and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame (2020).
Ron Risch was a dedicated District 65 physical education teacher who was instrumental in creating the first “Junior Olympics” in 1976 held on June 5 at Northwestern University. After teaching at Dawes, Washington, and Central Elementary schools, Risch signed on at Chute Middle school, as one of the newly opened school’s original teachers. He worked there until his 1993 retirement. Ron Risch was also an assistant coach for the girl’s track and field team at ETHS from 1979 to 1993. During that period Risch received the Illinois Girl’s Coaches Association Track & Field Coach of the Year award for the 1988-89 season.
Ron Risch is remembered for his dedication and devotion to his students. He fiercely valued competition, but never lost sight of the worth of sportsmanship. He conveyed his high expectations without criticism. Ron Risch died in 1994 of a lung cancer related to asbestos exposure.
At the meet, fourth- through eighth-graders from public, private, and parochial schools from within the District 65 and ETHS boundaries will participate in boys, girls, and co-ed events on the ETHS track. In case of rain, the events will be held in the field house. The meet will open with the 1600 meter run at 7:30 a.m. The meet will have scheduled grade level events throughout the morning.