Rice University officially rededicated the Owls' track and field complex on Saturday, April 24, 2010, officially changing the name to Wendel D. Ley Track and Holloway Field, prior to the start of the 2010 J. Fred Duckett Twilight Meet. The rededication was in recognition of a gift from the estate of former Southwest Conference sprint champion Edward Holloway and his wife, Naomi "Petie" Guion Holloway, both from the Class of '33, to replace the track at the stadium with a new, dark blue, BSS 300 synthetic surface from Beynon Sports Systems.
The track was installed over the winter and made its unofficial debut at the Victor Lopez Classic in March.
"The new blue track is the third variation of the Rice track in its history," Rice men's track coach Jon Warren noted. "From 1912 to 1979 the track was cinder, from 1980 to 2009 it was a typical red all weather track and now, it is a striking all weather blue. I am excited that the new track will allow Rice to continue to host competitions at the highest level while also supplying a training arena for the Rice community," he added.
"Our new facility allow us to train and compete at the highest level." Rice women's head coach Jim Bevan said. "It places Rice on a higher plane and we now have as fine a training environment as any track student-athlete could want. "
The Holloways left $6.6 million to the Rice Centennial Campaign. About $4.4 million of their gift will be used to establish a need-based endowed scholarship fund. Another $1.3 million will establish an endowed fund that will support yearly contributions to the Rice Annual Fund. The remaining $880,000 paid for replacement of the track at the Track/Soccer Stadium and set up an endowed scholarship for track athletes.
"The Holloways' gift to the Rice track program is a wonderful example of the life-long bond that exists between our student-athletes and this university," Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said. "They have provided our current and future student-athletes with a wonderful opportunity to reach their full potential. What could be a more fitting way to honor the Holloways than to see future Owls become champions while training and competing at a venue that carries their name."
Edward Holloway received a B.S. in physical education and was a physical education instructor during his senior year. He was a member of the track team throughout his years at Rice and won a total of three Southwest Conference sprint titles. He captured the 220-yard dash title in both 1931 and 1932 and added the 100-yard dash crown in 1932. He also was a member of the "R" Association. Edward spent most of his career working for the Coca-Cola Co., where he retired as marketing controller. He died in 1985.
Petie Holloway graduated with a B.A. degree. She was a typist on the Campanile staff and was also involved with the Cranmer Club, May Fete and the "R" and Quill Association. She collected all sorts of owls, including ceramics, stuffed animals, paintings, knickknacks, sweaters and other clothing. She died January of 2009. The Holloways had no children.
Over the years the Holloways were loyal supporters of the Rice Annual Fund and the track program. A longtime friend of the Holloways' recalled that their basement was like a shrine to Rice -- filled with Rice memorabilia and photos of Edward at various track events.
The upgrades to the track add a new chapter to a facility that has hosted Owls athletic teams in competition since the debut of intercollegiate athletics in 1912. The Rice football team played its games on the infield area of the track from 1912-1949 before the opening of Rice Stadium, while Rice's first basketball teams played in the Field House which was located at the East end of the track before moving into Autry Court in 1950.
Located on one of Rice's more important historical sites, it was built at the location of old Rice Stadium, the Owls' football home through 1949, using part of the grandstand of the old stadium. Located at the corner of University Boulevard and Main Street, the stadium is home to two major meets each spring: the Victor Lopez Classic for top college and high school athletes; and the J.Fred Duckett Twilight Meet. The original surface featured the Chevron 440 and was built in 1980, and dedicated on March 14, 1981.
The stadium played host to numerous Southwest Conference Track and Field Championships. The 1986 and 1994 SWC meets were held on the new surface, and the track was the host of the 1998 and 2002 Western Athletic Conference meets. In 2007, the facility added its first C-USA track and field championship to its list of events and that was followed by return hosting assignments in 2013 and 2014. The summer of 2014 also saw the facility host the track portion of the Transplant Games.
As the women's soccer program was added in 2000, so were changes to the stadium. A first-class soccer field was constructed in the existing track infield, and new and improved jump and throw areas were relocated. Some chairback seats were added to the stands, and the restrooms were renovated.
Thanks in large part to a generous donation from the Ley family, the Rice track was resurfaced and officially named the Wendel D. Ley Track in the summer of 2002. In 2004, the Owls captured men's and women's WAC titles, and the following year saw Rice's women's soccer team capture its first-ever Conference USA crown on its home field. In 2007, the Rice women captured the C-USA outdoor track and field title on their home grounds.