Ed Thomas shooting reaction

June 24, 2009

JIM BELLAMY, former Mount Vernon H.S. football coach

“It’s a sorry time for the state of Iowa as a whole, to lose a fine person like that.”

“He was a class act, from all of my observations. It’s hard to believe that something like this could happen. His program, his demeanor … what a class act.”

“He was involved with so many activities. He was a strong supporter of the community. It’s unbelievable.”

“You deal with the youth of today, and you have to deal with parents. You never know how far people are going to take things.”

“Let’s just say that things like this can happen. People get excited and emotional. You just hope it goes away.”

PAUL JAMES, Cedar Rapids Washington AD and former football coach

“He was so revered in his community. It just leaves me speechless. I have no idea what could have triggered a thing like that.”

BUD LEGG, IHSAA information director

“I’m just stunned. Any tragedy is shocking, but one so senseless as the nature of this … I’m just stunned.”

“It doesn’t make any sense. Anybody that knows Ed knows what a terrific guy he (was). He’s so dedicated to the kids. If you’re going to pick an ideal person to coach your son, your daughter, your grandchild, it’s Ed Thomas.”

“Not very many coaches feel threatened. Their motivation is to help kids achieve their goals.”

DUANE SCHULTE, Cedar Rapids Xavier football coach

“I really didn’t know him at all. We might have said hello to each other at a clinic sometime.”

“It’s unbelievable. I’m in total shock. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

“I felt terrible about what happened at Parkersburg (with the tornado) last year. This is even worse.”

TONY LOMBARDI, Cedar Rapids Washington football coach

“Oh my gosh, what a shame. It’s inexplicable.”

“Here’s the thing. We live in a time in which there are so few heroes. That man is a genuine hero. I’m sure he had opportunities to go to a bigger school, a bigger community. He pulled the entire community behind his program.”

“What a sad commentary. We need to hold these people in high esteem.”

“It’s just sad beyond belief. He brought so many people so many wonderful things. This man made a difference.”

“I’ve really never felt unsafe. I’ve had some really upset parents.”

TOM STONE, football coach at Pekin High School

“It’s a sad day for a great man, and it’s a sad day for life in general.”

“He touched so many lives. He brought out the best in so many people. He had a real knack in getting along with kids.”

“He had ‘Winner’ written all over him.”

“The frightening thing is that it could happen to any of us. But of all of us, he’d be the last person you’d think it would happen to.”

“It’s been a very difficult morning for me.”

KEN WINKLER, football coach at West Marshall High School and a close friend of Thomas’

“Shock is the only word to use.”

“He is a great person who also happens to be a great football coach.”

“The thing about his teams was they were so fundamentally sound. He coached their offensive line, and their offensive line was so good.”

“It’s a loss to a lot of people. Football was third to him. He had a very strong faith, and he was a very good family man.”

CHUCK GRASSLEY, U.S. Senator

“This is a tragic day. In our area of the state, it’s hard not to know Coach Thomas. He was a pillarte of the community. His success on the football field made him an icon in his profession, but the people who knew him will remember him most for his leadership off the field. His leadership to help pull up a commuinity knocked off its feet by an F-5 tornado only a year ago will forever be etched in the minds of Parkersburg residents and Iowans across the state.”

RICK WULKOW, IHSAA executive director

“Like all tragedies, the taking of Coach Thomas’ life is senseless. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Aplington-Parkersburg community and the thousands of lives he so positively impacted. He embodied the essence of what a coach should be, and that legacy will endure.”

“He will be forever remembered not so much for his many wins on the field, but for the exemplary manner in which he coached kids and led the Aplington-Parkersburg community and school. This was especially true last spring and summer as they rebuilt from a devastating tornado. He was overwhelmed with the ensuing gratitude from the efforts of the Iowa coaching community and others during the rebuilding.”

MARK FARLEY, UNI football coach

“The hard part is this is a great man, not just a great coach, a great man.”

“You can’t find a coach in the state he hasn’t had an impact on.”

“He just represented everything that was good about coaching, good about representing kids.”

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Houlihan eclipses Dinsdale’s mark

June 23, 2009

In a year the girls’ 800-meter run became a stacked event in Iowa, an all-time state best was set.

Shelby Houlihan of Sioux City East finished third at the Nike Outdoor National track meet last week with a time of 2:07.35.

That eclipses the old mark of 2:07.39, set in 2006 by Blaire Dinsdale of North Tama.

Big award for Niemeyer

June 23, 2009
Larry Niemeyer, here huddling with his Cedar Rapids Jefferson softball team during the 2008 state tournament, has been selected as the 2009 National High School Coaches Association national coach of the year. (AP photo)

Larry Niemeyer, here huddling with his Cedar Rapids Jefferson softball team during the 2008 state tournament, has been selected as the 2009 National High School Coaches Association national coach of the year. (AP photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — For a day, Larry Niemeyer felt young again.

The nation’s all-time leader in softball victories, Niemeyer has been selected as the 2009 National High School Coaches Association national coach of the year.

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A late call, a surging team

June 22, 2009

It was getting toward late summer a year ago, and Nick McCool hadn’t received a job offer.

Finally, a call came from Iowa Valley. An elementary PE job. And a varsity head-coaching job.

Just what he wanted. Plus a bonus — the softball team is quite good.

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AOY 2009: A plea for nominees

June 22, 2009

We’re about two weeks away from closing applications for the 2009 Gazette Athletes of the Year.

We’re still missing a lot of worthy candidates (list below). Please send nominees to jeff.linder@gazcomm.com.

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Winless, not necessarily hopeless

June 18, 2009
Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Brittany Madsen slides into second base as the ball gets away from Cedar Rapids Washington shortstop Jordan Carr in Jefferson's sweep Thursday. (Photo by Chris Mackler)

Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Brittany Madsen slides into second base as the ball gets away from Cedar Rapids Washington shortstop Jordan Carr in Jefferson's sweep Thursday. (Photo by Chris Mackler)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Looking strictly at Cedar Rapids Washington’s record and the lopsided defeats, you figure it’s another dead-end season for a softball program that’s been spinning its wheels for years.

Fanaye Kifletsadik sees it as a beginning.

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A face in the crowd

June 18, 2009

Hannah Willms’ staggering performance at the state track meet earned her a spot in Sports Illustrated.

Willms, a junior at Dike-New Hartford, was one of six athletes featured in the Faces in the Crowd segment of the weekly magazine.

She set state-meet records in the 400 meters (54.68 seconds) and the high jump (5-11) and established a 2A record in the 200 (24.49) and anchored the sprint medley relay that sey a 2A mark of 1:47.19.

Regional softball pairings … the aftermath

June 18, 2009
If Jenny Drahozal and Cedar Rapids Xavier are going to advance to state in their first year as a 4A softball school, they'll probably have to get past Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the regional finals. (Photo by Liz Martin)

If Jenny Drahozal and Cedar Rapids Xavier are going to advance to state in their first year as a 4A softball school, they'll probably have to get past Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the regional finals. (Photo by Liz Martin)

The Metro is guaranteed a Class 4A team in the state softball tournament next month.

One. And one only.

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16 teams at Manchester

June 17, 2009

Last week, the big softball tournament was at Jesup.

This weekend, it’s at Manchester.

Sixteen teams will compete in the West Delaware Invitational, led by Class 3A powers Dubuque Hempstead, Williamsburg and West Delaware.

Play begins at 9 a.m. Friday. The championship game is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Every team plays four games.

MVC softball standings

June 17, 2009

Standings through June 16:

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