At the Redbud, they all know Coach Edwards
For Dortha Edwards, the Redbud Classic is like a big high school reunion.
The former coach and girls' athletic director at Casady High School sees many of her former students in the annual race in Nichols Hills. In her 37 years teaching physical education at Casady, running in the Redbud Classic was part of the curriculum.
“We would make that part of our yearly project,” Edwards said. “We would all run in the Redbud.”
At age 83, Edwards is still running in the Redbud Classic. She participated in the very first one and missed very few since the run started 36 years ago.
“I have never actually not won my age division since early on,” Edwards said.
Winning is something Edwards is accustomed to. She started girls' field hockey at Casady and the school won its first 106 games, a record still today.
The winning streak was finally broken when Casady lost 1-0 to a Houston school on the road.
“It had rained the night before,” Edwards said. “We played on the football field because the field hockey field was under water. We all played in the mud.”
Playing in the Southwest Preparatory Conference against other private schools in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, Edwards' field hockey program at Casady was a powerhouse. Casady's playing field now bears her name.
“We were just blessed with some really good athletes and really worked at it,” Edwards said. “We won so much everybody hated us, and their whole season was based on ‘Can we beat Casady?'”
Many of Edwards' athletes continued playing field hockey in college.
“One year my high school kids played the OU team and there were eight graduates of Casady on the OU team,” she said.
Edwards retired from Casady in 1994 but she sees many of her former athletes each year at the Redbud Classic. Edwards does not participate in many runs. She mostly bikes and walks for exercise, but she looks forward to running in the Redbud Classic each year.
It is a philanthropic event, raising more than $525,000 in its history. Entry fees each year go to a selected nonprofit in the community.
This year the beneficiary is Whiz Kids Oklahoma, an after-school program that connects at-risk Oklahoma City students with mentors to build reading skills.
Edwards, and no doubt several of her former students, will be running in Sunday's 5K.
“I just really do the Redbud because I like everybody over there. Everybody is a former student,” she said.
“To me, it's been exciting to have been in the very first one and watched how it's grown over the years and how much money they have been able to provide to different organizations. It's a great outreach program.”
•When: Saturday and Sunday
•Where: Nichols Hills
•What: 10-, 33- and 45-Mile Bike Tours starting at 7 a.m. Saturday and a 1-Mile Kids’ Fun Run beginning at 11 a.m.
Sunday's races start at 1:30 p.m. and include 5K and 10K timed runs, 5K wheelchair event, 2-mile walk and the Baby Stroller Derby. A scavenger hunt is held throughout the course.
The fourth annual Redbud Bash begins at 1 p.m. in the Nichols Hills Plaza — the finish line of the races — and features food trucks, beverages, live entertainment along with games and other activities.
For information including course maps and how to register, visit redbud.org.