Long-time coach and official Wulf Stender has given nearly 50 years to track and field
He’ll turn 72 next week, moving about better than ever with a new hip, but images of young German track star are still far off in the mind’s rearview mirror. Yet, if there’s a track meet going on in this town, chances are Wulf Stender’s close by.
© — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
After a car-crash in 1963 all but destroyed German-born Wulf Stender’s hip, putting an end to his budding track and field career, he turned his attentions to coaching athletes and officiating track and field competitions throughout the province. At 72, Stender continues to do so with no signs of slowing down. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
“I’m simply track, track, track,” he says. “That’s my real love ... for over 50 years.”
Oh sure, he’s toned it down a bit. No more are the three and four nights a week away from the house, off to practice, and the two or three weekends every month, every summer, out coaching, officiating and generally helping to organize track meets.
Those were the days when family vacations were set around the local track and field calendar.
“We have grandchildren now, and sometimes we go out to Eastport,” Stender says. “If the family goes out there, you can’t say, ‘I have to stay back for track and field.’ I did that for 25 years. We wouldn’t go because I had to be here to look after the team or officiate.
“But it was never a point where I had to go when I didn’t want to. Never. I love track, and I hope I’ve got another seven to 10 years in me.
“I hope at my 80th birthday I can still help.”
“I hope at my 80th birthday I can still help.” Wulf Stender
Stender arrived in St. John’s, via San Francisco, from Hamburg, Germany in 1962, a young European lad anxious to see the world. He landed a job at Campbell’s Ships Supplies where his ability to speak German and some Russian came in handy when taking orders aboard the foreign vessels down at the harbour.
Though he wasn’t exactly Olympic calibre, he was nonetheless a pretty fine track and field athlete back in post-war Germany, once winning the long jump title at a tri-city (Hamburg, Berlin and Nuremberg) meet.
And when he touched down in St. John’s, he wasn’t long seeking out a track club. That was back when track and field was a big thing in Newfoundland, when as many as 12 clubs would be represented at any given meet.
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