Wisconsin Rapids Kiwanis Track & Field Invitational renamed to the “Gene Noonan Track & Field Invitational”
For the City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Twenty-five years ago, our community was blessed with the completion of our track/football/hockey facilities.
Gene Noonan, then our Head Boys Track Coach, was a driving force in creating excitement in the community to begin the project. As the facilities were being built, Gene organized the parents of both the boys and girls track athletes to undertake several fundraising events to pay for equipping the track with high jump and pole vault pits, hurdles, starting blocks, timer stands, and more. Then his attention went to developing a schedule of meets that would showcase the facility.
Under his leadership, dual, triangular, invitational, conference, regional, and sectional track meets were hosted with regularity. But it was this early-May track meet that meant the most to Gene. He wanted to showcase this fine facility with a quality Invitational like the Monona Grove Invitational.
He enlisted the Kiwanis Club to sponsor this meet (lasting 24 years) with not only monetary help, but also with Kiwanis members helping as event judges, timers and corner judges. Now, with the Kiwanis organization turning their attention to other outreach opportunities a decision had to be made about this meet.
There was no question in our minds that renaming this meet as the “Gene Noonan Track & Field Invitational” would be a well deserved honor to him as the meet’s founder.
Gene came to Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School as a Social Studies (World History) teacher. He taught and coached (football, track and golf) at Lincoln High School for 32 years, retiring in 1996. Gene was an “early riser”, getting up early to jog over 120,000 miles, and at one stretch, never missed a day in over ten years of his running career. After retirement Gene continued to be up early to open and supervise the weight room at Lincoln High School for student athletes and fellow lovers of fitness. He had numerous articles published throughout his coaching and teaching career. He was a very innovative teacher who was always looking for better ways to teach.
Gene was a coach for 45 years. He was the recipient of many distinguished honors and awards noted below.
- 1996 Assistant Football Coach of the Year for the State of Wisconsin
- Inducted into the 2002 Wisconsin Track Coaches Hall of Fame
- Inducted into Wisconsin High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame
- Inducted into the Kaukauna High School Hall of Fame
- Inducted into the Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School Hall of Fame
As owner and founder of Faster Results, Gene routinely held speed training events throughout the country. He spent time as a speed consultant coaching in the ranks of the NFL, NBA, European Football League and various colleges. He was a huge Packer fan and was one of ten finalists for Packer Fan of the Year in 2011. Gene coached and trained numerous Wisconsin Badger athletes and was an avid Badger fan. Gene touched the lives of many thousands throughout his tenure as a coach, teacher and mentor. He was an avid reader and scholar who continued to learn throughout his life.
Unfortunately, we lost Gene when he passed away on August 27, 2015 at 80 years old. We welcome Gene’s wife Nathalie and three children, Eugene, Roberta, and John and their families to help us honor Gene and his contributions to Lincoln High School Track and Field.