Kuhlman placed on Drake Relays Wall of Honor

—Submitted photo Fort Dodge’s Rick Kuhlman (far right) joins fellow inductees Tim Sweet and Veronica Daniels in Des Moines as recently-christened Drake Relays Wall of Honor members.

Rick Kuhlman has never given personal recognition a passing thought during 25 years of steady volunteer work at Drake University.

The Fort Dodge resident and Humboldt High School graduate has reported for duty during every single track and field season since 1994, offering his time to a long list of events at Drake Stadium.

Kuhlman’s steady influence in Des Moines earned him a recent spot on the school’s Officials Wall of Honor, which recognizes people who have provided ancillary services to the Drake Relays and other meets on the blue oval over the last 100-plus years.

The induction announcement came as a surprise to Kuhlman, who joined fellow officials Tim Sweet of De Soto and Veronica Daniels of Olathe, Kan. in a ceremony at the Knapp Center on the Drake University campus.

“This wasn’t something I’d ever even considered,” said Kuhlman, a long-time teacher and administrator in the Fort Dodge Community School District. “But it is quite an honor. I do know a number of people who have been recognized (since the Officials Wall of Honor was first introduced in 1993), and I know how proud they’ve all been. But I’d never expected to be a part of it myself.”

Kuhlman himself was a track standout at Humboldt in high school, and he coached both football and track in Fort Dodge through the early-90s. The Ida Grove native started volunteering for Steve Schullen’s infield crew 25 years ago after his coaching career came to a close.

“I felt kind of a void when I got into administration and away from coaching, so this was my way to stay actively involved,” said Kuhlman, who moved to Humboldt from Osceola as a fourth-grader in 1958. “I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the sport, and I’ve taken a great deal of pride in doing so ever since.

“I’ve always enjoyed being around the high-caliber athletes; it’s been a lot of fun to meet some of the Olympic stars who have competed (at the Drake Relays). You get to know them personally. And, of course, the friendships you create when you’re down there is the most beneficial aspect (of volunteering); seeing those people year after year and building a rapport with them has been very meaningful.”

Kuhlman’s steady influence has been instrumental in many of Drake’s annual meets, including the Relays, MVC conference meets, NCAA and USATF championships, and high school state events.

“If you’ve ever wondered who checks to see how many hip numbers need to be ordered, how many zip ties need to be purchased, when to replace worn brooms, squeegees or measuring tapes, you can bet that Rick is on top of it,” DU assistant athletic director Carolyn Hill said in a statement. “He’s usually the first to arrive in the morning and one of the last to leave, without complaint.

“He knows the ins and outs of meet operations, and his can-do attitude makes him a crucial part of our meet successes.”

Kuhlman, a graduate of both the University of Northern Iowa (bachelor’s degree) and Iowa State University (master’s degree), retired as principal at FDSH in 2008. He and his wife, Mary, still make their home in Fort Dodge. Their son, Aaron, and his wife, Cheryl, live with their two daughters in Ames.