The Mentors

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Picking a Softball Coach of the Year in the area would be an impossible task this season.

For our money, there are three pretty incredible achievements:

* Jason "Moose" Stoltzfus (pictured at right), for leading his Storm Lake team to a most improbable Lakes Conference championship, the first the school has seen in a generation. In a season of up and downs, Stoltzfus kept his Tornadoes striving for their best effort, and despite losing five strong seniors, they will have plenty of young talent coming back as juniors and sophomores.

* Dave Turnquist, for taking a bunch of Alta diaper dandies and making them into a scary-good challenger in the Northwest Conference. Imagine molding a team with seven freshmen starting at times, and forming them into a team that if not for Newell-Fonda, had the talent and sharp play to go a long, long way. What a treat it is going to be to see teams like the Cyclones, Mustangs and Rebels face off next season.

* Of course, Dick Jungers took his Newell-Fonda Mustangs to the State Championship, but the defining moment was the #8 'Stangs stunning #1-ranked, 32-0 WCLT 2-0 to qualify for State. Jungers mixes the perfect combination of fun and focus, and with three trips to the Big Show in four years, and a young squad returning all but one starter, he's on the verge of dynasty.

Relentlessly upbeat Dave Riley had a great year at Sioux Central, going all the way to the Regional Final, and a greater uniform. Under his name on the back of his favorite coaching shirt was written "Attitude: Either you got one or you need one." His was to keep the game fun - and it rubs off.

There are several coaches like Dave Wolvers who deserve honors just for being able to field a team, which is increasingly a challenge at our smallest districts. Sadly, our Laurens-Marathon team wasn't able to finish out a season this year, but think how great a story it will be when they come back.

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