History of the William F. Eddy Jr.
Track & Field Meet
A NYS tradition since 1941.
Today the Eddy Meet is one of the most competitive events on the east coast and offers some of the best competition for track and field events in the northeast. It attracts hundreds of top-level high school athletes from around the area. Much time and energy goes into organizing a tournament of this magnitude. It is one of the oldest and finest interscholastic track and field meets of its kind.
In 1940, then Schenectady Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President William Shirkey, along with his executive board, went to the membership with an idea of doing something special for the young people. A committee was organized to plan the event. The committee contacted William F. Eddy Sr., a local high school coach, who had a reputation for excellence, to help organize that first track meet. Bill Eddy would serve as Meet Director for the next 42 years.
The first meeting of this annual series was held on May 31, 1941 at the Mont Pleasant High School. Originally the Eddy Meet would be known as the PBA Field Day. The first meet attracted an outstanding host of athletes from 35 high schools with 546 runners taking part. The meet grew by leaps and bounds to the point that hundreds of schools from all over the Eastern Seaboard were competing. The meet grew so large that following the 1957 meet, State Officials refused to sanction out of state schools.
The Eddy Meet has been held as various locations within the City of Schenectady since 1941. The members of the PBA spent considerable time changing the grassy field at Mont Pleasant into the athletic field we know today. That first year, off duty police officers built a track at Mont Pleasant High School with picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows. Through combined efforts of the members of the PBA, the City Engineers office and the City Department of Public Works the track was resurfaced. All new jumping and vaulting pits were constructed, steel posts were erected around the track and a high steel flag pole, which stood for many years, was raised on the eastern end of the field.
In 1942 the meet was moved to Union College and remained there until 1961. In 1962 the meet was transferred to a new track facility at Linton High School until 1969. In 1970, through the joint cooperation of the Schenectady Board of Education and the PBA, an all weather track was installed at Mont Pleasant High School. In 1982 the meet was moved back to the beautiful facility at Union College. Only one year in 2005 was the meet moved outside of Schenectady to Niskayuna High School because of scheduling conflicts.
William Eddy, in failing health passed the meet directorship on to Peter MacKay. In turn Peter passed the reins on to Co-Meet Directors Larry Cottrell and Raymond Vacca. Finally in 2009, Sam Gonzalez, who has competed several times in the meet, will take the reins as Meet Director. Bill has since gone onto eternal reward. Many of those police officers, athletic coaches and officials who worked the meet over the years have departed. We owe them and their fellow workers thanks for carrying on the tradition. It is through the unselfish efforts of these individuals that the William F. Eddy Jr. Annual Field Day, the prestigious event that it is.
As the years have passed, thousands of outstanding athletes have competed in these meets, and they represented the best in their events. Included in this list were hundreds of Sectional and High School Champions. Many have continued on in track and field events in all levels of college competition or have even joined the ranks of the Olympians. Some of their records still stand today. Regardless of the outcomes, the rewarding experience of striving to be better, faster, and stronger teaches valuable life lessons that make each athlete a winner.