Matt Tipton's family was on hand for the official naming of the Russellville High School track in his honor.Photo submitted

Matt Tipton's family was on hand for the official naming of the Russellville High School track in his honor.

Photo submitted

The sweltering afternoon heat was nothing but a cool breeze to the track teams and community members who gathered at the Russellville High School track to celebrate one of Russellville's greatest legends. As the black tarp fell from the sign, a wave of emotion flooded over the Tipton family. Everything ceased to exist except for the amount of appreciation Matt Tipton would feel if he were here today.

On Tuesday, May 7, the lively track meet came to a standstill when the Tipton family took their seats in front of the massive crowd to honor a husband and father. RHS Principal Ben Bruni welcomed the people and read Matt Tipton's biography which includes 43 years of coaching and mentoring the Lady Panthers Track Team. Head Football Coach Mikie Benton took the floor to share his experience of growing up with Mr. Tipton, and he said, "He taught me how to shake a person's hand." Matt Tipton was a fatherly mentor to Benton and countless other young men. He was never a man to cower in people's presence and always taught young men the proper etiquette of being a gentleman. When the mic was passed on to Ms. Medina Tipton, she sprang onto the track with pride.

The radiance she emitted showed so many that Mr. Tipton's spirit lives on through his daughters. Ms. Medina reminisced over the years she ran for her father. She stated he didn't waste time on runners who didn't want to put in the work. The runners had to want it as much as Coach Tipton did, and those who did, knew that even desiring to run came with strenuous practice. The army veteran lived life as an incomparable figure of leadership and inspired others with his love. The Matt Tipton Track sign is a sign of hope for the community, but most specifically for the track teams. It's there for when runners need that extra boost to run faster or farther.

It's there for anyone who feels defeated or feels like giving up. Matt Tipton would be the first person to be by your side and once you were on your feet, he'd expect you to walk on your own. Coaching track was one of his most favorite things to do, and he would be proud that his love for track lives on. The Board Members and Russellville Independent Schools would like to thank the Tipton Family for continuing to inspire the Russellville community: Ms. Connie Tipton, Mrs. Bethanie Tipton Childs, and Ms. Medina Tipton. We are proud to immortalize his legacy through the Matt Tipton Track, and we look forward to the great achievements that will be made on this field!