When the 2012 Summer Olympics kick off in London, England, the world’s greatest athletes will compete in over 300 different events with aspirations of bringing home the gold. Athletics, or track and field events, are the largest field of events with 47. It is one of America’s most successful fields with 23 combined men’s and women’s medals won in the 2008 Olympic games held in Beijing, China. Before Olympian hopefuls get the chance to represent the stars and stripes in this years games, they must first make the United States’ team. Hopeful Olympian must qualify at the 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials held in Eugene, Ore., at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field from June 22 through July 1. While hundreds of the nations athletes will be the main focus of the event, one Mercer County native, Terry Yeast, will be helping to make the event possible as an umpire.
“I’m really excited to see some the greatest athletes in the world competing for a chance of a lifetime, including local runner Tyson Gay from Lafayette,” said Yeast. “Knowing that I’ll be around and officiating athletes that will be representing our nation at this years Olympic games is an amazing opportunity.” Yeast, who is the Mercer County Senior High School assistant principal, began his love for the sport early in life running track at an early age through high school at Harrodsburg High under coach Alvis Johnson. After graduating, Yeast began helping Johnson by officiating the Heart of the Bluegrass track and field meet while attending Morehead State University in 1988. By 1990, Yeast had moved up in the officiating world, helping with the high school state track meets. There, Yeast became associated with the USA Track and Field (USATF) Director Gordon Bocock.
“Kentucky has a lot of history and tradition in track officiating across the nation,” said Yeast. “So early on in my career anytime Gordon (Bocock) needed some help officiating I would always volunteer. He has been extremely supportive in my officiating career.” Yeast along with Bocock are two of eight officials from Kentucky whose applications were accepted by the Olympic committee to officiate this year’s trials. It was Yeast’s first time applying to for an officiating position at the Olympic Trials and was shocked when he was notified of his selection. “It being my first time applying I never really thought that I would make the cut,” said Yeast. “Track and field officials stay in the business for a long time, making it a very difficult to be selected for elite events like these.” Yeast is a USATF and Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) certified official and achieved master certification earlier this year after being accepted to the Olympic trials, the third and highest level of certification achievable in the USATF.
Over his 24 year career, Yeast has officiated numerous meets on both the local and national level including the Sun Belt Indoor, Mid-South Conference, OVC and SEC Indoor Championships, Nike and New Balance Outdoor National meets and USATF Masters Outdoor Championship. Along with his numerous adult meets, Yeast has also helped officiate many youth meets including the Kentucky High School State Outdoor Championship meets and the Mason-Dixon Indoor State Championship meets. “I love the sport and even after my coaching days at Centre College and Harrodsburg High School, I’ve never stopped wanting to help youths in the sport develop and progress,” said Yeast. “It’s always been about the kids and helping them get the most out of their natural ability. I’m always watching their form and technique while officiating events and offering them advice on what they need to correct to get better.”
Yeast will travel to Bloomington, Ind. on Mar. 15 to help officiate the USATF Master Indoor Championship which will help pay for his trip to Eugene in June. “This is definitely a labor of love,” said Yeast. “The compensation for the meets rarely covers the expense of getting there. That, along with the time I have to spend away from my family. I have to thank my wife for her support through all of this. Her being a former OVC champion and current South East Missouri State record holder helps in her understanding for my love of the sport and allowing me to follow my dreams.”