Tim O'Neil-Assumption (back row center) New Balance Nationals winning 1600 medley team

Memories from the Drake Relays: Tim O’Neil

Tim O'Neil-Assumption along with other coaches celebrating a fourth state championship

Tim O’Neil-Assumption along with other coaches celebrating a fourth state championship

Tim O’Neill.  Head Track and Field Coach at Davenport Assumption.  He has led Assumption Girls teams to four consecutive Class 3A team titles.  At the 2014 Drake Relays, Davenport Assumption won a record 5 relay titles and 4 of the Assumption girls, who were on 3 of the winning relays, shared Athlete of the Meet honors.

Feature photo: Tim Oneil-Assumption (back row center) celebrates with New Balance Nationals winning 1600 medley team

I remember competing at the Drake Relays in the mid 90’s for Davenport Assumption.  It was my first time getting to experience what all of the upper classmen and coaches were talking about.  The amount of talent that I was surrounded by was electric.  Getting to rub elbows with the best High Schoolers, Collegians and Professionals, all at one venue was incredible.  What was even better was getting to compete in front of thousands of fans.  It was like no other competition I had been a part of. I was hooked.  That was the moment that I knew I had a passion for track & field.

Fast forward to the University of Northern Iowa where I was a two-sport athlete.  I was the starting nose tackle on the football team and part of the track and field throws crew with other talented guys from the state of Iowa.   Because of my obligations with the football team, I had spring practices and the spring Game I had to attend.  I can remember driving myself in my car after spring ball and speeding down the highway to get to the Drake Relays in time so I could compete in the shot put.  I had earned a qualifying mark collegiately.  I had no chance to win or even place.  I did, however, have a chance to compete against some of the best in the country in front of thousands of fans.  I would make those sacrifices to get the opportunity to get throttled by guys like Jamie Beyer, Christian Cantwell and Reese Hoffa.  It didn’t matter.  I got to compete.  That passion was still there.

Currently, I get to share that experience at the Drake Relays with my wife, kids and my high school Track & Field Team at Davenport Assumption.  Being a 3A school, we always feel we have a lot to prove.  We want to race and compete against the best kids the state has to offer.  We have had so many great achievements as a program.  We know that we get a chance to showcase our talents to fans, other schools and have the opportunity to be seen by some of the best college coaches in the world.  I know that if I can get a kid qualified for the Drake Relays, they will share a similar experience that I have for the rest of their life.  It is a special place for Track & Field fans in Iowa.  It is the place that created the passion that I have for the sport of Track & Field.  I will be forever grateful for it.