To say that track is special to the Kittell family may be a significant understatement. Keith Kittell has coached high school track for 31 years, while his wife Barb has scored meets for over 25 years. As a team, they raised Kirk and Kate, who both ran track at Lewistown High School. Keith, Barb and Kate have now worked the Spring Spectacular together every year since 2000. The Kittell family will be honored as the 2014 IHSA Girls Track & Field Honorary Referees at the Spring Spectacular on Saturday, May 24, 2014.
Keith’s track career began as a distance runner at Westville High School, and after attending Eastern Illinois he began coaching at Lewistown High School. He was Lewistown boy’s track coach for 28 years, while also adding the girl’s head coaching responsibilities to his resume in 1992. All told, he has coached over 200 state qualifiers, 36 finalists and thee state champions. After becoming a principal in 1992, he continued to assist with the track program at Chester High School, before taking his current job as the head track coach at Shawnee High School following his retirement from education. Keith has combined to work the respective state final meets 37 times, running the triple jump at the boy’s state meet, and in a variety of field roles at the girl’s meet, eventually landing him in his current position as Horizontal Jumps Supervisor. Of the many memories he has from the state meet, he treasures the spring of 1999 when his daughter helped Lewistown to a third-place state finish and his son Kirk qualified for the state meet on the same weekend.
During her 28 years as the wife of a high school track coach, Barb Kittell has done it all. She has scored, announced, handed out the awards and made countless cookies and chili for the concession stand. She was also a “track mom” throughout her own children’s careers. For several years, she helped supervise the awards at the Peoria Journal Star Honor Roll Meet. Her volunteering at the IHSA Spring Spectacular began in 2000, when she was assigned to the Dugout Crew under the supervision of Jim Lewis. During her first few years, she was the runner of results and awards sheets, made copies and organized the results. As the State Finals converted over to using Hy-Tek meet management software, Barb became the computer operator in the dugout and now acts as the Dugout Supervisor. She wishes she “had been born a few decades later so she might have had a chance at competing at the state track meet.”
Raised around her father’s track & field teams, Kate Kittell began announcing meets when she was in sixth grade and started her own track career as a junior high distance runner. At Lewistown High School, she turned to field events, throwing the shot put and discus, in addition to running the 4x800 relay, helping the Lady Indians to a third-place state final finish in 1999. She became her father’s regular videographer and announcer at home track meets along the way and also helped her mom in the track concession stand. When she began working the state meet in 2000, she started in the Dugout alongside her mom, and then trained under Win Eggers in the awards area, where she has been for the past 10 years. In 2008, she became the head Awards Custodian. She describes the annual trip to Charleston for the state meet as being “like coming home and visiting family”.