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YUHSD Governing Board votes to rename Carver Park’s track after coaching legend Walter R. McCloud

The board and McCloud The Yuma Union High School District Governing Board voted unanimously on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 to name the track at G.W. Carver Park after a Yuma coaching legend.

Longtime track and field coach Walter R. McCloud, who was in attendance during the meeting along with his wife and several friends and family members, will forever be linked to the track where he dedicated so many hours over three decades. Moving forward, the Carver Park track will be known as the Walter R. McCloud Track at G.W. Carver Park.

After hearing from community members during their regular August meeting, the Board, citing Policy FF regarding the naming of facilities, voted in favor of the change on Wednesday. More than 1,300 signatures of support were obtained by community members, including Jennifer Aitken, whose daughter was one of thousands of young track athletes coached by McCloud.

“The number of reasons that Coach McCloud deserves this honor cannot be quantified,” Aitken said. “People across the country, state, county and city have verbally expressed and written posts, comments and messages in support of Coach McCloud and what he’s done for them, their families and their students in Yuma, Arizona. Coach McCloud has dedicated his life to youth in the sport of track and field. He worked patiently with those who had never played a sport a day in their life to those who were preparing for collegiate athletics, international competitions, and future Olympians.”

Prior to the board’s vote, YUHSD Superintendent Gina Thompson shared why she thought it was important to honor McCloud.

“This really is an exciting opportunity, especially because of the civic engagement it represents,” Thompson said. “It was certainly inspirational at our last board meeting and we are excited for this opportunity. We are looking forward to next steps and looking at different opportunities to raise funds for putting a plaque or some type of appropriate signage that is a very proud demonstration of how we feel about Coach McCloud and all that he has done for track and student athletes.

“It’s what we always hope for as a community to have someone of this caliber and have so many former students come together and make something like this happen. It’s definitely a point of pride.”

McCloud's guidance berthed city, state and national champions, collegiate athletes and Yuma High School Hall of Famer, Arizona State University Hall of Famer, and Olympian Jacquelyn Johnson. He coached at multiple high schools in the area, including Yuma High, as well as countless youth from ages 8 to 18 as part of his nonprofit Yuma Valley Flyers track club.

“He made every athlete feel like they belonged,” Aitken said. “In a town of many differences, Coach McCloud fostered an environment where all can come together in the name of track and field. Yes, he developed incredible athletes, but he also worked to develop incredible individuals.”

Eric Patten
epatten@yumaunion.org