GPS to name practice facility in honor of HOF Coach Clay Tarter

The Guthrie High School practice field will soon no longer be called the “practice field” after the Board of Education voted to name the facility the Clay Tarter Complex. Now, a fundraising effort is underway to complete the project.

Tarter suddenly passed away on June 5 at the age of 68.

Tarter, who was instrumental in starting the cross-country program at Guthrie, coached nine state championship teams (most of any head coach) and had four athletes finish state champions in over 40 years of coaching the Jays.

Related Article: Guthrie HOF coach Clay Tarter passes away

The Guthrie Board of Education formally approved the naming of the track and field facility after the former coach. The facility is used for a variety of other sports and activities, including football, soccer, band, and playground for students at Guthrie Upper Elementary School.

“Clay would be surprised and honored at this gesture but would most certainly defer any attention from himself,” Cheryl Tarter the wife of Clay said.

“My daughter Linh and I are so grateful for such a wonderful tribute to Clay. He couldn’t imagine himself doing anything but working with student-athletes. It was what he was called to do. He spent many hours of his life at that track and field area. He loved seeing kids grow and succeed, not only in sports but especially in life. He was and will always be known as a Guthrie Bluejay,” Cheryl said.

Following his passing, friends and family encouraged the school district to name the facility after Tarter.

Tarter was a 1972 Guthrie graduate, he was GHS Teacher of the Year three times (1983, 2005, and 2007) and was inducted into the GHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. He earned numerous state and national honors for his service to students while coaching Bluejay athletes to nine state titles and fourteen state runner-up finishes in his career.

Plans are underway to provide an appropriate badging through an archway and ornamental fencing along the west boundary of the complex. Additional plans call for an appropriate biography of Tarter along with his contributions to GPS. The donors will also be listed.

The initial goal to fund Phase 1 of the project is $100,000. This will provide the archway, memorial, and ornamental fencing along the west boundary of the facility.

Donors are asked to contribute to the Guthrie Educational Foundation and direct the donation to the Clay Tarter Complex. All donations to the foundation are tax deductible.

“I miss Clay on so many levels,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson said in a release. “He was a grounding influence for our entire athletic department. His ability to ignore the rhetoric and find the important in any issue were gifts few have. With this ability, he was the coach many followed. The number of students he impacted is astonishing at best. He was a true Bluejay!”

If you would like to donate, you may send your contribution to:

Guthrie Educational Foundation
802 E. Vilas
Guthrie, OK 73044
Please note Clay Tarter Complex in the memo line of the check


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