By Joseph Phillips
Friends of Track and Field in collaboration with Chicago Public Schools hosted their first annual 2022 Dr. Conrad Worrill Invitational on Saturday, February 5, at the Track and Field Center at Gately Park, 10201 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
The event was hosted by Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy High School in honor of the late Dr. Conrad W. Worrill, educator, scholar and activist.
Publicist for Friends of Track and Field Diana Muhammad said prior to the event, “Friends of Track and Field and Chicago Public Schools have collaborated together to showcase high school athletes at the Dr. Conrad Worrill Invitational Track Meet at Gately Park to the track and field community.”
Muhammad noted, “More than 16 CPS high school athletes, both girls and boys, will compete among the best of the best in track and field events.”
According to Muhammad, Worrill wore many hats in the academic world. Not just as an educator, scholar, and activist, but as a former track athlete and track and field enthusiast as well.
Adding to Muhammad’s comments, Worrill’s family and friends spoke of his determination to build a track and field facility for Chicago’s student athletes. They noted he fought tirelessly for 37 years, advocating for building a state-of-the-art track and field indoor facility. He wanted the facility they said, in order for Chicago Public School student athletes to have the opportunity to participate in track and field programs in their community.
“Our mission is to revitalize track and field in the Chicago community,” said coaches Sandy Jenkins, Ben Ward, and JD Davis of Friends of Track and Field. “Members of Friends of Track and Field come from various areas of expertise and experiences including athletics, coaching, athletic directors, teachers, principals, doctors, lawyers, clergy, business and lay people.”
Worrill was born in Pasadena, California. His father was active in the NAACP and the YMCA, and played a large role in influencing him to become an activist. The Worrill family moved to Chicago when he was a young boy.
Worrill married his wife Arlina had several daughters, Femi Skanes Worrill, Sobenna Worrill, Michelle Worrill, and Kimberley Aisha King. Two of Worrill’s daughters and grandson attended the event in honor of their father and grandfather. Worrill’s youngest daughter Sobenna said she was very proud of her father and what he had accomplished in the world of track and field.
“I’m very, very, proud of my father,” she said. “He poured his all into this project.”
Worrill’s eldest daughter Dr. Femi Skanes Worrill (along with her son Caval Spearman, Worrill’s grandson), echoed her sister’s sentiments.
“On behalf of my entire family we are so excited to have you out today.”
“The track that these young people are running on today was my dad’s idea many, many, many years ago. My dad worked really, really hard to make sure this facility would be open and available to students across the city of Chicago. My dad was a firm believer that kids should not be running in the hall[ways] of high schools to be able to participate in track and field. What we are seeing today is because of my dad’s vision.”
Prior to his vision for a state of the art track and field facility, Worrill earned his master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago.
Worrill graduated in 1968 and was hired by a West Side YMCA as a program director.
He left to pursue his Ph.D at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His focus was on “Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary Social Studies.”
Upon receiving his degree from Wisconsin, Worrill taught for two years at George Williams College. In 1975, he transferred to the faculty of Northeastern Illinois University, where he led the Center for Inner City Studies.
One of Worrill’s close friends coach Reggie Williams said he was proud to see his friend’s dream come to fruition.
“The importance of today’s event is [that it is]a culmination of Dr. Conrad Worrill’s vision and dream,” Williams said. “His vision and dream was to have a venue like this.”
Members of Friends of Track and Field felt it was important to continue Worrill’s legacy by helping Chicago Public school athletes reach their athletic, academic and life goals.
The group shares the belief that athletes who have access to compete on the indoor Track and Field Center at Gately Park, have the opportunity to put Chicago track and field on the map.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.