About Us

Spirit of the Games Awards

Established in 2009, the Spirit of the Games Award is presented in memory of J.R. Simplot in recognition of distinguished commitment to the Simplot Games.

2023 - Greg Burch

Greg Burch grew up in southern Idaho and was a standout athlete in high school, junior college, and then at Idaho State. He began volunteering at Simplot Games in 1985 when he came to Idaho State University to pursue a master’s degree in athletic administration. His proposed thesis was on best practices for running a good track and field meet. Five years later he became our Meet Director. His principle has been “do the best you can, and then improve next year.” He ensures the event runs on time so that athletes can be confident in their start times and ready to compete at their best. Thanks to Greg's dedication, innovation, and enthusiasm as Meet Director, thousands of athletes have had amazing experiences at Simplot Games both on and off the track.

2020 - Kent Tingey

As the recently retired Vice President for Advancement at Idaho State University, Kent has been the liaison between Simplot Games and Idaho State for the last 26 years. Each year Kent has been touched and moved by “how incredibly meaningful the Games were to those student athletes who participated….the extraordinary efficiency, dedication, skill and love of Games leadership and volunteers….and the dedication of the Olympians who come and meet athletes and participate in Simplot Games.” Though many attendees may not recognize Kent, at Simplot Games we understand his invaluable contribution to the success of the event.

2019 - James Spier

“The best organized track and field meet in the country.” Coming from the Meet Director of the New Balance Nationals Indoor and Outdoor Championships, that’s quite a compliment. You may not recognize his picture, but you would know his voice. Jim has announced the girls’ events at Simplot Games for over 20 years. His greatest Simplot Games memories are seeing the wonderful competitiveness among the athletes, knowing that we are looking at future Olympic and international caliber athletes. Jim will always hold a very special place in the Simplot Games history book.

2018 - Rick Phillips

Few people have had a greater impact on the success of Simplot Games than Rick Phillips, Public Relations Manager for Simplot’s AgriBusiness Group. Rick’s support of Simplot Games began the same time that his career with Simplot began in 1990, and his enthusiasm for the Games has not wavered. His love of the Games comes, in part, from his desire to see youth succeed, whatever their pursuits may be. This is evidenced by his dedicated service throughout his career to numerous youth initiatives across the country. Simplot Games would not be what it is today without his tireless and unwavering guidance and leadership.

2017 - Stacy Dragila

Stacy Dragila is an Idaho State University graduate who made her mark on the sport of pole vaulting at the 2000 Olympic Games by winning the first ever women’s gold medal in the sport. She was born and raised in California, where she was introduced to track and field, but it wasn’t until she was recruited to be on Idaho State University’s team that she tried pole vaulting. Stacy has returned to Holt Arena for several years as one of our guest Olympians. She was selected for the Spirit of the Games award for her inspiring commitment to teaching and support of young athletes.

2016 - Dave Nielsen

Dave Nielsen is a key player in the vital relationship between Simplot Games and Idaho State University. He has been the Head Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Coach at ISU since 1985. A very successful coach on many levels, Dave most notably coached 2000 Pole Vault Gold Medalist Stacy Dragila. He has been involved with the growth of Simplot Games for over 33 years. That growth has not just been in the number of participants, but also in the technology used to run the event. (Ask him about heating and seeding with index cards in 1984.) We couldn’t make this work without his expertise, encouragement and help. Watch for him at the Games; he will be everywhere.

2015 - Ross Ruchti

Ross began his Simplot Games experience in 1980 as a race event timer. He eventually began assisting with all field events. He enjoyed the High Jump and would bring his teenage son with him to assist. He became the Head Official for that event, eventually becoming the Head Official for all field events. Ross was an original member of the Simplot Games Board of Directors, and after many years of service ultimately became Chairman of the Board. Ross’s commitment to Simplot Games helped move us from a small, regional event to what you see today.

2013 - Carol Lish

The success of the Simplot Games is in large part due to Carol’s 30-year leadership. Since it’s humble beginning in 1979 Carol worked hard to make it bigger and better. Rather than maintain a small track meet, she built it incrementally each year by commanding a loyal army of volunteers and by loving the kids she was serving. After her retirement from Simplot Games in 2008, she volunteers every year helping stuff packets for the athletes and coaches. You can also see her enjoying the Games every 3rd weekend of February. We are thrilled to present her the Spirit of the Games.

2012 - Andre Phillips

At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Andre Phillips earned Gold in the Men’s 400m Hurdles. Since then, Andre has excelled in the academic world by helping young people achieve their dreams through education; he now serves as the Assistant Principal at Franklin High School in Stockton, California. A 2009 National Track & Field Hall of Fame inductee, Andre was recognized for his dedication to education, his passion for supporting young athletes, and his enthusiastic commitment to the Simplot Games.

2011 - John & Donna Dye

John and Donna Dye founded DyeStat, the Internet Home of High School Track and Field, in 1995. Through their presence, dedication, and enthusiasm, their coverage on DyeStat has elevated the Simplot Games to new heights within the national high school track and field community, and beyond.

2010 - Coach Tony Wells (1943 – 2012)

Tony Wells, coach of the Colorado Flyers Track Club, has been a dominant presence over the years at the Simplot Games. Tony has brought athletes to compete at every Simplot Games since the beginning. Tony’s accomplishments as a coach have resulted in many Simplot Champions and successful collegiate athletes. Coach Wells demonstrates the Spirit of the Games by his dedication to young athletes and his long commitment to the Simplot Games.

2009 - Olympian Dick Fosbury

Dick Fosbury, Honorary Chairman of the Simplot Games, revolutionized the high jump event in Mexico City Olympics 1968 when he introduced the Fosbury Flop and won Gold. This first recipient of the Spirit of the Games Award is honored for his dedication, influence and tireless hours of service to the Simplot Games.