Dirt track scholar
On a dirt circle in Dryden, Ont., Mike Wood is helping kids keep their dreams on track.
The Royal Roads MBA alumnus is leading the push to raise funds to replace a basic dirt running track with an official 400-metre track and field oval for the community and the high school track team, Dryden Eagles on Track. It would be the only one of its kind in the area, he says, noting there isn’t a regulation-sized track to be found between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay.
“Participation is incredibly important to kids,” Wood says, adding that track and field offers an opportunity for kids who may not be as interested in traditional team sports. “With track and field the concept is about personal best. It’s about developing yourself and … seeing how far you can take yourself.”
The project has been strongly supported by the community and school board, leaving them $125,000 shy of the $535,000 total project cost. Wood is hoping to raise more funds July 19 when the project goes to a 24-hour public vote for a Kraft Community Celebration grant.
Wood has a personal connection to running, having entered the sport in elementary school before carrying on through high school and university. He competed at those levels before hanging up his running shoes for nearly 20 years.
His experience at Royal Roads changed all of that. The MBA program was a “watershed moment” for him, he says, noting it opened his eyes to a better way to live his life.
“I had taken my life as far as I could go with my career, and more importantly my outlook on it,” he says. “When you are in a small community the horizons are pretty short. Coming to Royal Roads … made me look at everything I was doing in a brand new light.”
He started running again – this time competing in the Paralympics (he lost his right arm in a workplace accident in 1995). He returned to his community and ran for municipal council. “(Without Royal Roads) I wouldn’t have run for city council, I would not have become engaged in my community,” he says.
Successful in his bid to represent his community, he sat on council for five years before deciding to contribute in other ways. In addition to his day job as regional sales manager, Eastern Canada for Pacific Regeneration Technologies Inc., he now puts his energy into the once dormant track club (it has gone from 16 members four years ago to more than 300 members). His motive is simple: “I was reintroduced to all that sport offers, all that a healthy life offers. I need to share this,” Wood says. “It’s about (supporting) kids and investing in the community.”
The public is invited to vote in the www.kraftcelebrationtour.ca. Voting is open from 9 a.m. July 19 to 9 a.m. July 20. The track project was selected as one of the top 20 projects out of 629 submissions.