After 32 years of outstanding service in Ballard athletics, Merle Olberding received a well-deserved award Saturday.

Olberding was given the Iowa High School Athletic Association School Administrator Award during the boys’ state basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

“I am humbled by the recognition,” Olberding said. “It has been a pleasure working with Ballard student-athletes, coaches, staff, parents and community for the last 32 years. I enjoyed watching student athletes reach their full potential.”

Olberding was involved with the athletic administration at Ballard for over 15 years.

“Merle is very deserving of the School Administrator Award,” Ballard Athletic Director Nate Boock said. “As an administrator, he displays a behavior that epitomizes leadership, empowerment and commitment. His exemplary service in supporting and administering all activities programs has added to the education and growth of students at Ballard.”

“Merle has always stressed that we need to do what was in the best interest of the student-athlete,” Ballard head football coach Al Christian added. “He worked hard at making and keeping Ballard as one of the top schools athletically in the state. He preached doing things the ‘Ballard Way’ and showed it in his daily actions.”

During Olberding’s tenure as an administrator, Ballard totaled nine state championships.

“Merle has done a great job representing our district for many years,” Ballard head boys’ basketball coach Chris Deason said. “He is a proven leader and has done a tremendous job here at Ballard. Merle is so deserving of this award and I am excited for him.”

In addition to his administrator duties, Olberding was the head girls’ basketball coach at Ballard for 18 seasons — leading the Bombers to 13 conference titles, nine state appearances and a Class 3A state championship in 2009. After a short retirement, Olberding rejoined the Bomber girls’ program as an assistant coach, where he’s served the past five years under current head coach Kelly Anderson.

“I’ve worked with Merle over the last 15 years and (have) never seen anyone as organized as he is,” Anderson said. “From an AD position everything always ran smoothly — (we) never had to worry about something going wrong during an event. He always had great communication with his coaches!”

The Ballard girls have racked up four more conference championships and earned three more trips to state during Olberding’s time as an assistant coach.

Olberding was also the head baseball coach at Ballard from 1986-1998. Prior to coming to Ballard, Olberding coached baseball at St. Mary’s in Storm Lake.

In his 17 combined years of coaching baseball, Olberding’s teams won seven conference titles and made state twice.