Newell-Fonda's Jungers fills big shoes by winning
When Dick Jungers took over as head girls basketball coach at Newell-Fonda High three years ago, he had a tough act to follow.
Jungers replaced Jody Maske, who took four Mustang teams to state tournaments, finished as state runners-up twice and coached for 20 years.
"Dick came into a well-established program, but he was under a microscope," said Newell-Fonda boys basketball coach Paul Loos. "But he's blended right in and been an asset to our basketball tradition."
In his first three seasons at Newell-Fonda, Jungers has a 67-10 record. He guided the Mustang girls to the state tournament his first season and to the region finals in each of the last two years.
This season, the Sheldon native coached the Mustangs to a 22-3 record before his team lost a heartbreaker to George Little Rock in the region finals.
"It was a tough, disappointing loss for our kids," Jungers said. "We wanted to get to the state tournament, but it seems like it just wasn't meant to be this year."
Despite a difficult end to the season, Jungers is this year's Pilot Tribune's All-Area Coach of the Year. He earned the same honor last season after guiding the Mustangs to a 23-3 mark.
During Jungers' tenure, his teams have been led by a core group of seniors, including three-year senior starters Jenn Schumann, Andrea Larsen and Kristen Culp.
"It's been a great group of kids," Jungers said. "They had a knack for learning a game plan and going out and executing it well.
"And it hasn't always been easy. Because of the success we've had in basketball at Newell-Fonda, our girls went out each night with targets on their backs. We got other team's best shots in every game, and if we got beat, other teams celebrated like they won the state tournament."
Like many good high-school and college coaches, Jungers saw a lot of bench time during his playing days. He spent his time on the pine productively, learning the game from other coaches.
He attended Buena Vista University for four years, graduating with history and psychology majors in 1996.
He taught and was an assistant basketball coach in North Mercer, Mo. for two years before landing a teaching job in the Newell-Fonda school district in 1998.
"I was always interested in teaching, and coaching and sports have always been a passion of mine," Jungers said.
From 1996 to 1998, Jungers taught and was a freshman and assistant boys basketball coach under head boys coach Paul Loos.
"Paul has been the most influential figure in my coaching career," Jungers said. "I picked up a lot of ideas and concepts from him. Most of the stuff was X's and O's, but he also taught me to be very thorough in what I do.
He continued: "I know there's always more to learn. So I have other coaches I talk to and I attend coaching clinics to keep up."
Jungers added that there are several keys to coaching. First, he said, coaches must taylor their game plans around personnel.
"What fans saw our girls do this year probably won't be the case next season because we'll have different players," Jungers said.
Like all coaches, Jungers knows there's more to coaching than just X's and O's. Earning respect from players, fostering good relationships with them and motivation are just as important.
"I think the key is to get to know your players, what they can do, and what they respond to," Jungers said. "You can jump on certain kids verbally and they'll respond, but with other kids, you have to take a different approach."
"This particular group has been great to work with and get to know," he added. "We beat some awfully good teams over the past few years, and I was fortunate to coach some great players."