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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman honored the commitment to education of Coach Jim Rowland, the longtime athletics director of the Fort Smith School District, in the Congressional Record, the official proceedings of Congress.

Rowland is retiring at the end of June after 53 years of service to students in Fort Smith.

The following are remarks printed in the Congressional Record:

Mr. President, I rise today to honor Fort Smith School District athletics director Jim Rowland who will retire in June after serving the school district for over half a century. Rowland’s dedication to education and athletics in Fort Smith is nearly unprecedented.

Jim Rowland has been involved in Fort Smith’s school district since 1963. He began work at Darby Junior High School as the head coach for track and football. In 1966 Rowland became an assistant coach to the football team at Northside High School and, in 1970, was named head coach at crosstown rival, Southside High School.

After a successful coaching career, Coach Rowland moved to the administrative sector becoming assistant principal in 1982 at Southside High School. Nine years later Coach Rowland assumed the role of athletics director for Fort Smith Public School District.

Under his watch both Northside and Southside High School won a combined six state championships in football. More than any other school district in the 7A classification.

During Rowland’s time as athletics director he oversaw an extensive growth in athletics. Under his leadership both Northside and Southside High school won state championships in track, volleyball, bowling, and golf.

His passion helped improve athletics in Fort Smith to a level not seen before. In 2009, Fort Smith School Board, in a unanimous vote, renamed Southside High School’s stadium, Jim Rowland Stadium as thank you for his services.

I congratulate Coach Rowland for his outstanding achievements in athletics and education. I thank him for his service to the Fort Smith School District and the countless students he impacted, including me. I was on the Darby Rangers football team in eighth grade when he started his coaching career in Fort Smith and I was a member of the Northside Grizzlies when he became an assistant coach at the high school. Coach Rowland was a role model and one of the most positive influences in my life, as well as so many others.

His efforts to foster growth in the district and enhance athletics in Fort Smith have become reality. I greatly appreciate his commitment to the schools and athletic programs, his guidance and friendship and wish him continued success in all of his endeavors. Fort Smith is fortunate to have had someone with his passion and dedication to the schools.