Going for Gold: New teacher prepares for 2008 Olympic trials

By Arlene Freudenberg 2009

Math teacher Dirk Homewood trains for success not only by preparing his students with math skills, but by preparing himself for the Olympic trials.

Homewood, currently 25 years old, has been running since seventh grade.

“This has been my dream for eight years. This is my year. If I don’t make it this year, I’m done,” Homewood said.

Homewood participated in the 2004 Olympic trials and with utter disappointment, just missed his chance of making his long-term dream a reality.

“I took 32nd, and they took the first 28, so I missed the cut by four people. I’ve been training for three years, so this year is my best chance of winning,” Homewood said.

Even though he missed his chance in 2004, Homewood never gave up. He kept training and believing in himself in hope that one day his goal would come true.

“I am very competitive [while running]. It’s you against the clock. I’m just trying to run the perfect race,” he said.

Homewood has not given up on himself or his aspirations, even when incidents challenge him on whether he would make it or not.

“I tore a hamstring during a world tour. I tore it while running a race in California,” Homewood said.

Still, Homewood’s dedication and persistence has pushed him to the top of his game. He has made running more than a hobby. He’s made it a lifestyle.

“I went professional in 2005. I signed with Reebok, and I travel to Europe in the summer,” Homewood said. “When I travel on the weekends in the U.S. for competitions, I leave Friday evenings, run on Saturday and fly back on Sunday.”

Although Homewood is new to teaching at Cedar Falls High School, he is no stranger to the building. In 2001, he graduated from the very same classrooms with an outstanding 4.0 GPA.

“It’s weird to be in the Cedar Falls hallways again, but it’s comfortable. The Cedar Falls community is so welcoming,” he said.

Even with his amazing high school track record, Homewood was not a highly recruited track athlete. In fact, UNI was the only college willing to take a chance on the hometown 400-meter runner.

“It was one of those inner drive things. I had broken a school record, and I was third fastest in the state of Iowa,” Homewood said.

“I already knew I wanted to go to UNI on an academic scholarship, so not being highly recommended wasn’t that big of a deal, but I tried out for the team and look what happened.”
Graduating from UNI in 2005, Homewood left his college life behind with a major in mathematics education.

“Just like running, math is a challenge. I excelled in math and believe I have a lot to offer. I care for the kids,” he said.

Having an Olympic trainee as your math teacher is definitely a rare treat.

“I think it’s pretty cool having an Iowa guy from UNI and CFHS training for it. It’s cool getting the chance to get to know him,” sophomore Emily Hester said.

“I think it’s awesome. He’s a player. He’s training for the Olympics, and he came back to CF to teach. I’m surprised girls aren’t following him around in awe,” sophomore Tyler Damm said.

As Homewood circles around each track, the math teacher hopes his training will result in an Olympic moment.

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