Pilots In The Spotlight: Kim Spir

By The Beacon | September 19, 2012 9:00pm

Kim Spir (Photo courtesy of Kim Spir)

By Taylor Tobin, Staff Writer tobint16@up.edu

Kim Spir, Shiley School of Engineering's administrative assistant to the Dean, is considered a super fan of the UP cross country team. Spir was a runner herself in college, competing for both the track and field and cross country teams at the University of Oregon. She is now in the process of writing her first novel about women's athletics in Oregon.

When did you start becoming a fan of University of Portland cross country?

I don't quite know how it started, except I went to the University of Oregon and I ran on the track and cross country teams there. I have been a fan of Oregon athletics for a long time, but, in paying attention to the sport, you notice other teams in the region. I have always admired University of Portland.

How did your admiration of UP start?

After I graduated from Oregon I noticed that they started to slide and there were some dark years at Oregon. It was really hard to root for the team sometimes, but I've always been so impressed with the way that University of Portland can rise to the occasion-the men's team and the women's team. I think this year is going to be really exciting.

What are you most excited about this season?

To see them perform and move up the rankings. I like to watch them and I like their spirit.

What do you like about their spirit?

There's a kinship with these athletes. There is a beauty in cross country. It's you against the clock and your team against other teams. It's just really pure. There's an elegance to cross country. There's something about the way the human body moves and they way people are inspired and they run out of their heads, run better than they think they would. It's like the epitome of the human spirit.

What do you feel is the reason for UP's success?

Both coaches are just great people and there is a vibe that comes out of University of Portland that is terrific. The team is so proud. I talked to Lyndy Davis at the Pier Park meet and she was giving me an overview of the team. You could see how proud she was of this year's team's chances. Also, the fact that they're doing so well on this campus and they don't get the attention they deserve.

How does the team impress you outside of athletics?

The athletes at the University of Portland are student athletes. At Oregon, when you're on scholarship you treat it more like a job. But here, your academics and your athletics are on the same level. I think the athletes here balance that really well. The Shiley School of Engineering has a number of engineering and computer science students on the track and field and cross country teams. The accomplishments of our students are an added plus to being a fan. To see them everyday and to say "hi" is great.

How do you see the coaches helping the team?

The coaches know what pace you need to run and where you are at any given time during the race. They're just really essential in letting you know where you are and inspiring you to get up there and get up a couple more places. They're able to convey team strategy and tactics really well.

How long have you been attending the meets?

Well, I am staff photographer for Track and Field News, I go to the regional meets and take pictures and submit photos to the magazine. Then I started taking pictures for The Beacon, The Log, and the athletic department at UP.

What do you do for Track & Field news?

There are at least 20 U.S. and another 15 international staff photographers for Track and Field News, a magazine that started in 1948.  I am one of a number of photographers listed in the staff box, and was included in the staff box about five years ago. Track and Field News did not include women's coverage until the late 1970s. As an athlete at UO, I was always seconds short of being listed in the national rankings in the magazine. Having my name in the staff box is just as thrilling.

When looking back on your experience competing for UO, what do you remember specifically?

Well, victory laps at Hayward Field were just amazing because you have everybody clapping for you. Back when I was running at Oregon, they had an inside track that you used after you raced to do laps and watch the meet that was taking place. That was just the coolest thing. You were able to cheer people on while you were on the track yourself. Hayward Field is a special place. That's why I think it'd be so cool if University of Portland could get a track, because having a place to go to and having a home base is great. I would hope in my dreams that something like that could be created here at UP.

Can you share an exciting story about the UP cross country team?

Last year or the year before, University of Portland actually beat University of Oregon down at the Dillinger classic. They got second, and UP had the fans and the flag and the purple power shirts. It was exciting and it was so cool to see. I was jumping up and down; I was almost crying.

What do you wish people knew about UP cross country?

I wish more people at the University of Portland realized what being ranked 5th in the nation for a school of this size, with no track, means. The cross country teams here are just amazing; it's really something.

It's about a history of women's track and field and cross country in the state of Oregon. I plan to concentrate a lot on University of Oregon, which is where I'm from, but also on the evolution of women's athletics in the state. There are some really interesting stories out there of women who have persevered before the days of scholarships and track shoes. I've been working on it for a couple of years. [It] will hopefully be completed by the end of 2014, and is tentatively titled "Women of Oregon: A History 1928-2012."

How long do you plan on staying such a big fan of UP's cross country team?

Forever. I'll always support University of Portland. The student athletes who go through this program are really special people.