Photo by JJ Ostenson
Edgemont School Board President Gary Darrow stands with Edgemont high school students Keaton Darrow, Markus Aschwanden, Cian Waite, and John Heisler as they prepare to sod the Cody E. Barker Memorial Track and Field, which will soon upgrade to all-weather covering.
By Garland Wright
EDGEMONT – The inception of the Cody E. Barker Memorial Track and Field dates back to 2016, marked by a simple idea that grew into an inspiring vision.
“It all started with the idea of a simple dirt track to practice on that became a big vision,” said contractor Kerry Barker of Barker Concrete and Construction. Kerry Barker, along with his brother Kelvin and son Cody, conceived the idea of improving the existing football field with an all-weather track.
What unfolded thereafter was a remarkable display of community spirit and collaboration. From the outset, a team of community members rallied, breathing life into the ambitious endeavor of creating an updated Track field that would eventually be realized as a State Qualifying All-Weather Track and Field.
During the 2016 school year, Kerry Barker proposed the idea to the school district and received the school’s endorsement to begin work in June 2017. In conjunction with the school board, the community was enthusiastic to begin work on improving the field.
Despite the community’s support of the project, the path to realizing the vision of building an All-Weather Track came with unforeseen challenges.
Tragically, just before construction for the new track began, Cody Barker’s life was cut short in a semi-truck accident on June 17, 2017. Given Cody Barker’s early endorsement of the new track, involvement in its construction, and his untimely death, it became clear to everyone involved that the field should henceforth be known as Cody E. Barker Memorial Track and Field.
The death of such an integral project member was devastating but also gave new purpose to the community goal of creating an all-weather track and field. This task was not easily accomplished, as each step was costly and time-consuming.
At the project’s onset, the Edgemont Football team had to host games in Hot Springs because Edgemont’s field was torn up for the first construction phase during the 2018-2019 season.
The first phase required dismantling and relocating the track. Following the redirection of the track, the old concession was removed, the crow’s nest was relocated and ultimately entirely rebuilt, and the sod was cleared to make way for the foundational groundwork.
Following the initial groundwork, the track continued to evolve, spanning various stages, resulting in a functioning track by the end of that school year. However, the following year of construction proved to bear another challenge: COVID-19.
Nonetheless, the dedication of individuals like Kerry Barker, Louie Tidball, Mark Jones, Carl Shaw, Tom and Peggy Porter, Dick Porter, and John Michalek shone through as they contributed countless volunteer hours to building the track and stand.
In fact, most of the project was funded through local donations of time, equipment, and expertise. Initially, the school board allocated $40,000 in funds towards the project. However, the extent of spending remains uncertain due to the overwhelming support of volunteer labor and donated materials from the community.
To list every individual who contributed to this project would inevitably lead to unintentional omissions as that list is quite expansive, spanning years, and consisting of many individuals. The Alumni Association, various families, individuals, the Edgemont School Board, and local businesses played significant roles in making the project a reality. From the sprinkler system to the concession stand, donated labor and materials underscore the community’s dedication.
“The Cody E. Barker field has been such a gift of love from the alumni and community. I am thrilled that the district will be able to honor that gift by taking the next step toward completing the project by all-weathering the track. We look forward to hosting middle school and high school track meets in the spring of 2024,” explains Edgemont Superintendent Amy Ferley.
As the track and field are near completion, with finishing touches including landscaping and upgrading to all-weather covering, its significance transcends physical space. By the end of the current school year, Edgemont High School will host a state-qualifying track meet, making it one of the few schools in the vicinity to be able to do so.
The Cody E. Memorial Track and Field reflects Edgemont’s generous community in all its iterations. As such, the project has become much more than a field that holds track meets and football games; Cody E. Barker Memorial Track and Field is a beacon of Edgemont’s unyielding unity and a living tribute to Cody E. Barker’s enduring legacy.