Michael Jay

michael-jayWhen my high school track coach asked, in April of 1975, if I wanted to “tag along” with our qualifiers and attend the Drake Relays I said sure! What sophomore wouldn’t go about anywhere to miss a day of school! Little did I know that 1975 would be the first of 37 years in a row of attending America’s Athletic Classic, and that a love affair with track and field would follow. Listening to Jim Duncan inspired me to be a track meet announcer, and the Lord has blessed me with enough ability to live out that dream on a regular basis. I am a lucky man. I am the lead announcer at the Drake Relays and the co-ed state meet. I am the regular home meet announcer for Stanford, the University of Washington, Nebraska and the University of Iowa. I have called conference championship meets for the Big 10, the Big 12, Pac 10, MVC, and the SEC. I have been on the announcing staff for the last several NCAA D-1 championships. I have worked several USATF National Championship meets, including being part of the announcing team at the 2008 Olympic Trials. Track and Field has allowed me to travel the country and see some of the best athletes EVER perform. I am a blessed and lucky man with a wonderful wife and family. I have recently retired from coaching after 26 years, and now I have an opportunity to give back to this great sport and the great Iowa preps by contributing, along with Jim Kirby, my time and efforts to this website, to promote our Iowa kids!

I hope you enjoy The Next Level Iowa, and will become a frequent follower.

Jim Kirby

2014-06-06 17.21.55While never accomplishing much success in high school track, I did develop a great love of running and a respect for others who so heroically conquered and achieved such high levels of success in running.  In college and beyond I did find I had a certain talent in running marathons where eventually I would find myself qualifying and running in four Boston Marathons along with two dozen other marathons eventually settling for a 2:44 personal best.  But it was in coaching young athletes that my love of running began to really develop.

Out of this love of running came a desire to help, support and later coach others in finding the same joy and satisfaction of running that I had come to love. Beginning with coaching small junior high school track teams and then later high school track and cross country teams, I became dedicate to helping and supporting young runners accomplish goals I never would have dreamed of attempting.  This devotion for running, coaching and the respect and admiration of track and field athletes willing to take the risk of competition has lead me to find ways to support the sport and the athletes that I have grown to deeply admire.  Because of all the things and life lessons these great athletes and running have taught me throughout my life, I have been compelled to find a way to give something back.

I feel that these heroic athletes at all levels fail to receive the recognition and respect that they deserve in our culture today compared to some of the other more popular, yet less demanding and inspired  mainstream sports covered.  Out of the desire to somehow give these athletes the attention they deserve, Michael Jay and I have attempted to provide an outlet for news and coverage that is lacking for the great sports of Track & Field and Cross Country.  We hope the efforts of  THE NEXT LEVEL IOWA will be a means in which our heroic athletes from our great state of Iowa will somehow  receive the coverage, respect and attention they so deeply deserve.

Rev. Jim Kirby

What they are saying about The Next Level

“This site offers track and fieldcross country fans an appropriate view into the power of faith in athletics.  I look forward to following the continued future growth and learning from and through others about the merger of two very personal journeys in a person’s life.”

Layne AndersonHead Women’s Track and Cross Country Coach at The University of Iowa

“WOW! Blaire Dinsdale had a link to your site posted on Twitter and I saw it for the first time about an hour ago and I have been hooked on it ever since. I wanted you to know that I think it is just fabulous and exactly what Iowa needs!  I think I’ll be on your site now much more often than because it just might be my new favorite thing. I am going to show this to everyone in my FCA huddle because you can simply never have too many places to see faith and athletics collide. Thank you so much for creating this website. I’ll be on it daily I’m sure. Hope all is well!”

Morgan CaseyState Champion at Northeast Goose Lake. Now All Big 12 performer at Iowa State

“Just checked out your web-site. I think it is a great idea!! I really appreciate how you are incorporating the power of faith into coaching and athletics. I look forward to checking it out more in the future!”

Uby MartinezAsst Baseball Coach at Iowa City Regina. Elementary teacher in Iowa City school system

“I like it, Mike!  Start small and expand – best advice I can give anyone who is starting a website. It’s like Cornhusker football under Osborne – run 3 plays, but run them perfectly.  Only then should you expand your playbook.”

T.J. PierceDirector of Operations for Nebraska Track

“That’s a great site Mike. I’m going to enjoy keeping up on that!”

Travis J. GeopfertState Champion at Panorama, MVC Champion and All American at UNI, now Assistant Coach at Arkansas

“Mike, I just took a look at the web site and its great.  Keep up the good work and I am looking forward to following The Next Level.”

Dave PaulsenAssistant Track and Cross Country Coach, UNI