The track at Central High School was named in honor of the late Howard P. Drew, a scholar and athlete whose accomplishments made Springfield famous worldwide. While still a junior in high school, Drew represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics as a member of the track and field team. Drew’s athletic performances eventually earned him the nickname “fastest man in the world.” Among his achievements was his indoor record for the 90-yard dash, which at 9.2 seconds, stood for many years. At 7.6 seconds, Drew’s 75-yard dash speed established a world record.
Drew’s commitment to excellence off of the field was as impressive as his athleticism. After graduating with honors from Springfield High School, Drew attended the University of Southern California and later Drake University in Iowa. A lawyer by profession, Drew eventually became a judge. His career was marked by his commitment to issues surrounding civil rights, housing and unemployment.
An African-American, Drew’s achievements mark a milestone in race relations that precedes the history of other great revolutionary pioneers such as Jackie Robinson.
Mayor Domenic Sarno said: “The legacy of Howard P. Drew has lain dormant in our City for far too long. We should all feel a tremendous sense of pride for what Judge Drew accomplished. He was a giant among men during a time that was very difficult. His notable tenacity, focus, intelligence and athleticism will be recognized and honored for ever more. This is a very proud day.”
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick thanked Sarno and the School Committee for their support. The School Committee voted unanimously to dedicate the track in honor of Drew during a recent regularly scheduled meeting.
Warwick said: “It is our honor as a School District and as a City to dedicate this track to Howard P. Drew. We know that it will allow the conversation about this remarkable man’s life to continue for generations to come. We know his story will inspire scholars and athletes today. It’s been a long time coming.”