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Find an individual who either played a sport or was a member of a support group. Search by last name by clicking on the first letter of the person's last name.

Mr. Dudley Wilkins



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Table of Contents:

1. Email exchanges in 2004 between Sheila Kuziak and Ed Dugas which resulted in the plate described herein being donated to the Athletic Network, who in-turn donated it to the Alumni Association. The plate was given to members of the USA Track & Field Team members while they were touring Japan in 1935.

2. Prides of Acadiana
Dudley Wilkins: He Triple Jumped to the Olympics
Prides of Acadiana by Bruce Brown (1980) is a copyrighted enterprise.

* * * * * * * * * *

July 8, 2004

You are too good to be true! The letter is perfect and will be used by the Archives Department to provide background information. We appreciate this so much. If you are ever Lafayette way, please give us advanced notice so we could meet you.
Also, could you please email you mailing address. Thanks.

Peace, Ed Dugas

Dr. Ed Dugas, Coordinator, Athletic Network
John Dugas, AN Web Site Administrator
Phone: (337) 482 - 0999
Email: athleticnetwork@louisiana.edu
Web Site: http://www.athleticnetwork.net
Post Office Box 44090
Lafayette, LA 70504 - 4090

----- Original Message -----
From: Kuziak@aol.com
To: athleticnetwork@louisiana.edu
Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 2004 1:03 PM
Subject: Re: Sheila Kuziak Dudley Wilkins

Dear Dr. Dugas,

I will mail the plate today. I will box it carefully and insure it. I will also request a signed receipt from the post office.

I hope the letter I sent along with the plate is all right. I didn't want to get too "wordy." The following is a copy of the body of the letter. Please advise if I change anything.

My father, Donald Edward Hellems, served in World War 2 and was stationed in Japan. He brought this plate back with him when he returned to the states. I have no idea how to came to possess it. My father passed away, and since the plate has a connection with your school (through Dudley Wilkins) I would like to donate it to the Athletic Network at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

(signed signature)

Sheila Hellems Kuziak

Thank you for all the time you've invested in this. It's been a real pleasure corresponding with you.


* * * * * * * * * *
Email to Sheila dated July 7, 20o4

Dear Sheila,

I have made arrangements for the Athletic Network to receive the plate which you described earlier. Logistically, all we need is a brief statement from you (include with plate) describing how you came to be in possession of the plate (as you did by email to me earlier). Further, please indicate you are donating it to the Athletic Network at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The physical mailing address for the Athletic Network is 600 E. St. Mary Blvd., Lafayette, La 70504

Concerning the question of postage, if this is a problem, please advise.

Thank you so much for donating this item to the Athletic Network. We will communicate with you once it is received.

Peace, Ed Dugas

Dr. Ed Dugas, Coordinator, Athletic Network
John Dugas, AN Web Site Administrator
Phone: (337) 482 - 0999
Email: athleticnetwork@louisiana.edu
Web Site: http://www.athleticnetwork.net
Post Office Box 44090
Lafayette, LA 70504 - 4090

* * * * * * * * * *

Email to Sheila Kuziak June 7, 4004

Thank you for such an informative response. I could attempt to locate his family or if you would donate it to the Athletic Network, we would place it in the University Archives so all could see it and know its significance.
Please email me your phone number so I may phone you to discuss this matter.
Peace, Ed Dugas

* * * * * * * * * *

June 7, 2004 Email

Dear Dr. Dugas,

First of all, thank you very much for your reply. My father was in the Army in WW 2 and served time in Japan. He brought the plate back with him when he returned to the states. I have no idea why my father had the plate or how he came to possess it. It hung on the wall in their home for years, and when they passed away in 1989 I took the plate and put it away for
safe keeping. I often wondered about the names on that plate and decided to try the Internet for any information about them. I put some of the more "unusual" names in the search engine to connect them to the plate. I came across the name Dudley Wilkins on your web sight and that's why I wrote the inquiry. I was hoping to find someone who would had a close connection to any of the names so I could give the plate to them. It might have a very special meaning to someone. Do you have any suggestions? Maybe your school would like to have it. Please let me know.

Thank you.

Sheila Wilkins Kuziak

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Prides of Acadiana by Bruce Brown (1980) is a copyrighted enterprise.

Dudley Wilkins: He Triple Jumped to the Olympics

It has been forty-eight years since Dudley Wilkins of Crowley competed in a state track meet as a representative of Crowley High School.

Much has happened since that time, both to Wilkins and to the world, but his AAA prep record in that sport - one which signaled the beginning of a career at Southwestern Louisiana and in international competition - still stands.

On that spring day in 1932, Wilkins hopped, stepped, and jumped forty-eight feet, three quarters of an inch to establish a new state record for the event now known as the triple jump.

It took forty years for anyone in the state to top his prodigious leap, and his performance still ranks as the best ever in the state's AAA ranks.

Four years after soaring to prep limits, Wilkins was standing in Berlin's Olympic Stadium as a member of the United States Olympic Team in the 1936 Olympics.

During those four years, Wilkins' ability became renowned and his travels extensive as one of the best in the country at his specialty. He competed for three years at SLI, before returning to Crowley to work and eventually to serve in World War II.

Now retired in Crowley, Wilkins can look back on many travels and many achievements.

When he went to Germany for the 1936 Olympics, it was the second country in two years he had visited which was soon to become a hated enemy of the United States. Two years before, he had been with a group of U.S. athletes who had travelled and competed in Japan. But little of that was in the air in the mid thirties to a track athlete.

"Security wasn't tight at all," he recalled. "Nobody bothered us in Germany, and the Japanese people were eager to show us their customs and traditions - such as eating raw fish and fifty-year old eggs.

"Our coach had us pass on those, but one taste was all it took to convince you."

Wilkin does remember enjoying the Japan trip more, because the team stayed seven weeks there as opposed to only two week in the Olympics. “I competed in the National AAU Meet at Marquette University in Milwaukee, then went to San Francisco to join the rest of the team and sail to Japan," Wilkins said.

"We sailed in August, stopped over in Hawaii, and then landed in Yokahama. We began competing in Tokyo, and went to six different towns in all. We went to Tokyo twice."

Communications were no problem, Wilkin noted, because "we had two young Japanese college men who stayed with us each day and spoke English.

"One thing about foreign countries," he interjected. "They always seem to learn enough English to communicate with us, but we never bother to learn other people's languages."

It was in Japan that Wilkin recorded his career best triple jump, a fifty-foot, one-half-inch performance. But Japan was also where he pulled a muscle, an injury that would sporadically affect his future performances until he quit competing in 1936.

Wilkins had won the Southern AAU Championships in 1935 before heading back to Crowley to work. But the itch to compete soon became too much, and when the Olympic year rolled around, Wilkin "quit work to try out for the team."

"My training was never that heavy, partly because of that pulled muscle," he revealed. “I would jog at the local track to keep in shape, then would hitchhike to SLI twice a week to jump because they had a better jumping pit."

When it came time for the trials, Wilkins found himself a long way from the action. He took a bus to Boston, and won the regional trials with a forty-nine foot one-eighth inch leap, then finished second in the final team trials to Roland Romero of Welsh.

"Louisiana was one of only two states to have three athletes in one sport," he recalled. "Billy Brown, who was from Baker and who competed for LSU, was the third triple jumper on the Olympic team. California had three pole vaulters.

"I think the reason we had all three in the hop, step, and jump," he continued, "was the fact that we had it as a high school sport. At that time, it was not a collegiate sport, and the only way you were going to compete in it after high school was in AAU meets.

In the Olympics, Wilkins finished seventh with a leap in the forty-eight-foot range.

"I would not have won the event, because the world record was around fifty-one and one half feet," he said. "I don't want to say the pulled muscle affected me, but it can cause you to hold back."

Of more significance to Wilkins at that time, almost, was the whole Olympic experience. Watching an l,800-piece military band and seeing Adolf Hitler in the stands is not everyday fare for a Crowley native.

"I was really too young to fully appreciate the situation," Wilkins said. "I was only twenty-one at the time, and it was wonderful just to be a member of the United States team, competing against the best in the world."

It was during those Olympics that Wilkins' teammate Jesse Owens won four gold medals and destroyed Hitler's theory of Arian supremacy, which in turn led to Hitler's famous snubbing of the Black American.

"I didn't see the Owens thing," Wilkins recalled. "We weren't there every day. You only competed one or two days, and I wasn't there when Hitler snubbed Owens.

"I can remember Hitler in the stands, though," he adds.

Although Hitler was rapidly growing in power in Germany at the time, the athletes had little chance to catch the pulse of the populace and discover what undertones were in progress. "We went from Hamburg to Berlin by train," Wilkins said. "And then we stayed in the Olympic Village when we weren't competing. We felt like we had to keep in training, and had to take care of ourselves.

"Too," he added, "I didn't have any money to go anywhere.

"When I was chosen for the Olympic team, the Olympic people gave me $25 and SLI gave me $25. Of course, the Olympic Committee took care of room and board while we were there, but in those days nobody had much money to go sightseeing."

In the Olympics, Wilkins hopped, stepped and jumped to a seventh place finish and watched Adolph Hitler in the stands.

Having competed in the Olympics, and having gone through the amateur athlete's dilemma of wanting to compete but having little money to spare, Wilkins can sympathize with today's Olympic hopefuls.

"Fellows just can't afford to travel around and compete once they get out of college," he said. "They have to go to work and make a living.

"Every time you turn on TV you see the Olympic Committee begging for money so we can have a team. The United States government should support it entirely.

"They could do that without professionalizing it," he added. "The government writes a check for a million dollars for any number of things. They should write a check for the Olympics.

"The Olympics is a great thing for the nations involved, but more than that it is a great thing for the young athletes. At least it was when I competed, and I hope it still is.

"I would hate to see politics ruin the Olympics, because the Games have value. But we should support our amateur athletes better than we do."

If financial support is difficult today, consider Wilkins' plight in the thirties when the hop, step, and jump was not even a collegiate sport.

"The college coaches worried more about the broad jump than the triple jump," he said, understanding all the while that coaches rarely demand perfection in an event which is not on the card.

"The Southwestern Relays had the triple jump. So did the Penn Relays and the Drake Relays, but I could never go to those. I had a chance in 1934 to go with LSU to the Penn Relays, but it fell through.

"Louisiana College, Northwestern, and Louisiana Tech were our opponents then. The furthest we could go would be the Texas Relays in Austin.

"There weren't the facilities there are today either," he added. "Now there are better pits, better runways. We had shoes for running and shoes for jumping. The jumping shoes needed to have a heel on them, and they, weighed about as much as your dress shoes. "On the hop part of the triple jump you land hard flat-footed after going about eighteen or nineteen feet," he noted. "That was where you particularly needed the heel protection. Then you would step about twelve or thirteen feet and then jump."

Wilkins enjoyed football, basketball, and track in high school, and has enjoyed golf in later years, but he believes that track is unique.

"The thing I like about track is that it's all up to you how you do," he said. "It's different than football in that way. If you don't win in track, it's because you yourself didn't perform well enough.

"Another thing about track as opposed to football, is you can get to know your opponent better in track."

Wilkins did a fair job of letting others get to know him back in 1932. After winning the district meet at SLI his senior year at Crowley High, Wilkins found no others from his school had qualified for the meet in Baton Rouge.

"A friend of mine who loved track joined me and we hitchhiked over to Baton Rouge for the meet," he recalled. "We stayed in the LSU barracks Friday night, I jumped Saturday, and we stayed over again Saturday night before going back on Sunday."

To say that Wilkins jumped that Saturday is somewhat misleading.

"My first jump," he noted, "I hit the far side of the pit. So they dug it out, and I went again. I hit the far end again.

"I jumped three or four feet better than I had ever jumped before."

And it was not to stop there. Competing for SLI in 1934, Wilkins won the National AAU Junior Day Championship with a record leap of forty-nine feet four and one fourth inches, he won the National Senior AAU Championship, he was named an All-American, he garnered All-College honors, and he capped his year with the trip to Japan.

He won the Southern AAU title in 1935, and the next year he was in the Olympics.

Needless to say, those competing in that 1932 state high school meet were only the first in a long line of athletes who would get to know Dudley Wilkins.

Prides of Acadiana by Bruce Brown (1980) is a copyrighted enterprise.

Cross Country, Track & Field - (M&W):  1933, 1934, 1935