COLUMBUS JUNCTION — There is nothing better than giving back to one’s hometown.
Mike Jay is a prominent announcer in track and field, having been behind the microphone at Iowa’s high schools state meet, Drake Relays, NCAA meets and Olympic trials and is known throughout the nation.
“If it wasn’t for Columbus in the 1970s, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Jay said Tuesday at the high school where he donated enough Nike shoes to outfit the track team.
Prodded by his sons Jon and Joe, Jay started a company in 2018 called Track Guy.
“We started selling T-shirts and we wanted an Iowa designer and printer,” Jay said. “Our goal was to sell 250 T-shirts. We sold 2,000. Track Guy has now become a foundation.”
When a friend at Nike told him he was going to Jay five boxes of shoes, he thought it would be five shoe boxes. Instead it was five large containers with 130 pairs.
“You always want to share good fortune with your home people,” Jay said. “I live in Iowa City so I could’ve taken them to any high school, but Columbus has my heart.”
Jay is a 1977 graduate from Columbus.
“Columbus was a great place to grow up,” he said. “I worked my butt off to be mediocre. Track is such a great sport because anyone can be involved. It takes all types of athletes - quick ones can be sprinters, big ones can be throwers, or if your average like I was, you can be a distance runner, so that’s what I did.
“I am a Columbus graduate so that should give all of you hope,” he said to the track teams.
Columbus track and cross-country coach Mike Riley was very appreciative of the donation.
“It was Mike’s idea to help us out with these shoes,” Riley said. “For kids that can’t afford them, his foundation likes to help people out with whatever they can, like kids going to track camps and things like that. Mike has such a big heart. I am glad that I know him.”
Jay also coached at Columbus.
“He is going to take care of the people that took care of him,” Riley said. “He has done a lot for us through the years. This is an awesome gesture by him and we sure appreciate it.”
”Wear the shoes with pride and do your best in practice and in meets,” Jay said. “Go Wildcats!”