Going to the city track finals has always been special for Coach Dick Kampmann.
But when he takes the members of his team to the meet at Birmingham High on Friday, it will be even more significant. It will be his last as the University High coach.
After directing the track and cross-country program at the West Los Angeles school for 26 years, Dick Kampmann is retiring.
He will be leaving behind an impressive string of successes both on the track and off.
89 League Titles
In cross-country, his squads in four divisions of competition (varsity, junior varsity, 10th grade and girls) won 53 Western League championships and seven city championships and had a dual meet record of 584 wins and 88 losses.
His track teams in three classification levels (varsity, class B and class C) won 36 Western League championships and had an overall dual meet record of 483 wins and 134 losses. His combined dual meet record in both sports has been 1,067 wins and 222 losses.
Those successes aside, he has also had a powerful effect on his athletes off the track.
"There's so much more to coaching than the wins and losses," Kampmann said. "Many coaches don't realize the impact they have on their kids. They can make lasting impressions."
Executive Credits Kampmann
One former student, Don Franken, 29, now president of World Class Talent Agency, a placement service for television commercial casting of athletes, said his life had no real focus until he attended University High as a 10th grader. He attributes an improvement in his attitude to his experience as a distance runner under Kampmann.
"He got me excited about running," Franken recalled. "I started setting goals for myself and could see myself accomplishing something. It was the most positive thing. He helped me believe in myself. And it really carried over into my life after high school."
Kampmann has not expected or wanted single-minded devotion to his sport from his students, even those with potential. "I want my kids to experience as much as possible and not divorce themselves from the rest of the world," he said. "It's more important that they develop as people than as athletes."
Led Cross-Country Team
Heidi Howell, currently a senior at Cornell, who led the girls' cross-country team to the city championship in 1979 and later became city track champion in the 3,200-meter run, was regarded by Kampmann as the finest female athlete he ever worked with, fully capable of achieving the fastest times among high school runners in the country.
But instead of demanding the high-mileage running during the summers or the grueling twice-a-day workouts in season that would have produced those top marks, he actively endorsed her non-athletic pursuits.
"He gave me support and encouraged me in what would make me happy," Howell said. "He respected that I had other interests. He was neat."
Was Outstanding Athlete
An outstanding prep athlete himself, Kampmann played football and ran track at Washington High in Los Angeles.
After leaving the Navy in 1946, his first opportunity to study coaching was as a volunteer assistant under Gail Wyatt at Washington High, which won the state track championship that spring.
He went on to attend UC Santa Barbara, where he ran the quarter-mile (48.7), half-mile (1:57.0) and mile (4:21.0).
Received Degree in 1950
He received his bachelor's degree in physical education in 1950 and a year later he married Debby Winston, whom he met while in Santa Barbara. They now live in Santa Monica and have two children, Bill, a resident of Manhattan Beach, and Samantha, married and living in Canada. There are two teen-aged Kampmann grandchildren.
After a term as the freshman track coach at UC Santa Barbara, Kampmann's first teaching assignment was at Gardena High in 1951 where he served as the gymnastics coach. Kampmann then went to Excelsior High in Norwalk for two years, where he was assistant coach in both football and track. From 1953 to 1958, he taught at Gompers Junior High in South-Central Los Angeles, working with many standouts in track.
One of his students, Anthony Lorick, who would later play football for the Baltimore Colts, long-jumped 19 feet, 6 inches as a seventh grader and progressed to a mark of 24 feet, 8 inches as a senior at Fremont High, winning the city championship.
Head Coach at Dorsey
His first opportunity as a head prep cross-country and track coach was at Dorsey High in 1958 where his teams were an immediate success. In cross-country, they won the Southern League championships in all three divisions. His junior varsity team won the city championship and the varsity, led by Mike Love, who would later become the lead singer for the Beach Boys, finished third.
In track, his class C team won the city championship. His varsity squad was runner-up in a league that was arguably the strongest in the United States. And his class B team finished third.