Rich Wilson | The Makings Of Greatness

Piles of papers litter Rich Wilson’s home office desk. They outline volunteer duties, which occupies his time now that he’s a retiree. A bookshelf behind him proudly display mementos of his decade of dedication to the building of the Utah Summer Games.

Rich leans forward in his chair and explains how he had grown up with many amazing and talented volleyball players in Hawaii, and was invited to attend the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles with the U.S. Volleyball team. Rich returned with an appreciation for the scale, magnitude and spirit of the Olympic Games.

After marrying, Rich moved to Cedar City.

When the then president of Southern Utah University, Gerald Sherratt attended the same 1984 Summer Olympics, he also returned with a bit of the olympic flame burning in his heart. He proposed that Southern Utah should host their own summer games for Utah residents.

“When President Gerald R. Sherratt said ‘Rich, we can build an amateur sports festival based on the olympic premise, with the best athletes in the state’ I was all in,” Rich recalls “I knew that Cedar City and Iron County were capable of hosting that quality of an event”

“We felt that if we could have between 300 to 500 athletes that inaugural year, we had done a great job,” Rich said, “We had over 750.”

It would eventually grow into the thousands.

The first year that the Utah Summer Games was held, it set the precedent for years to come. The Utah Summer Games inspired over 30 other state games from California to New York. However, Rich would say the greatest impact the games had was on the community of Southern Utah.

“People from all over the state gave up a day, or two, or even a week of vacation. Came down to Cedar City to volunteer.” Rich said. “We look back with great affection for the thousands of volunteers who really made the Summer Games what it is today.”