This is going to be tough to write.
Because of limited resources and the number of schools that need to be covered, as of this week, I will no longer cover North Polk sports for the newspaper. My duties are switching and I will now be covering Roland-Story sports for the Story City Herald, and just sticking with Ballard and Collins-Maxwell in the Tri-County Times and Nevada and Colo-NESCO in the Nevada Journal. We will continue to publish reader-submitted content and photos — I will just not be there in person doing it.
While I look forward to starting new relationships with Roland-Story — my mother’s old stomping grounds — I am sorely going to miss the ones I’ve enjoyed for over 18 years at North Polk.
One of my fondest memories to this day occurred right after I started working at the Times in the summer of 2000.
I got to witness Renee (Thompson) Lamfers throw three consecutive no-hitters at the state softball tournament — including a perfect game in the semifinals — and coming within one out of another perfecto in the championship game. The Comets won their first state title that year under legendary head coach and current University of Iowa assistant coach Rick Dillinger, and I’ve enjoyed a phenomenal ride covering the school ever since.
I’ve had a great time working with current coaches Scott Huether, Bill Capaldo, Lynnette Foster, Clint Albertsen, Nick Wilkins, Alex Bollmeyer, Gary Fjelland, Kirk Hesse, Jeff Anker, Josh Birchmier, Matt Overton, Evan Groepper and many former coaches over the years.
It will be especially tough to say goodbye to Comet head baseball coach Dave Middleton, cross country coach Steve Leach, boys’ tennis coach Bill Taylor and athletic director Rob Sinclair. I’ve been working with those guys since I started in 2000; I’ve had a lot of fun covering their teams and have learned so much from them.
I’m especially indebted to coach Middleton for nominating me for the Iowa Baseball Coaches Media Award in 2016.
During my time covering North Polk, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing five state championship teams.
I covered three state softball championships. I got to see Dave lead North Polk to four state championship games in baseball, including three in a row from 2012-14, and bringing home the big one in 2014 — so awesome to see him get that elusive state title.
It was also fun to watch North Polk win a girls’ state track team championship in 2008, with only a few runners/throwers competing at state.
There have been many other successful teams over the years.
I enjoyed getting to see the football team make a run all the way to the UNI-Dome and the Class 2A state championship game in 2010 — still the only football team I’ve covered to make it that far. It was great to see the girls’ basketball team make state in 2008 and again 10 years later, the volleyball team earn its first-ever trip to state in 2016, the girls’ soccer program go from an also-ran to a power and qualify for state in 2017.
The dominance of the North Polk cross country programs over the years — especially the girls, who have now made state as a team an incredible 12 years in a row — has been impressive to witness. Watching both track programs constantly have state placewinners has been great, as has seeing multiple boys’ tennis players and several wrestlers place at state.
But the thing I will obviously miss most is my relationships with the kids.
So many fond memories of:
n Having fun with the goofball gang of state softball champions Sammy (Snygg) Gilg, Brittney Wirtz, Emily Cory, the Christensen sisters and crew from 2005-09.
n Joking around with total characters like Zach Krantman, Jon “homeschool” Carsten, Rachel Hall, Miranda Schouten, Jake Hadaway and Speedyjunglecat (Brett Haun).
n Letting Noah Pickard and the rest of the 2010 state runner-up football team in on the origin story of my glorious mustache.
n Watching kids like Jordon Andreassen and Cole Jackson reach the top of the mountain.
n Seeing Maria Gorham always smiling and displaying a positive attitude, win or lose.
n Holding my breath as Amelia Lesher nearly runs herself to death after every cross country and track race.
n Holding my breath again as Hannah Becker nearly takes a girls’ head off with a hard spike in volleyball.
n Witnessing kids like Matthew Harmeyer and Grant Rampton become great role models.
n Looking up at Nora Aschoff after she goes from barely up to my shoulder as a freshman to 2-3 inches taller than me as a senior.
And many, many more.
I will miss you kids dearly, and sincerely hope someone steps in to fill the void I leave and gives you the coverage you deserve. I thank everyone for all you’ve done for me over the years and wish you nothing but the best.