South Tama County's first-year girls track coach George Corum enjoyed recapping the Lady Trojans season while also having some fun at the expense of the families and athletes attending the postseason banquet.
The Lady Trojans held their annual banquet earlier this month at the STC cafeteria. This year's banquet was different than previous years, because the athletes and families brought their own food to eat.
After handing out awards and medals, Corum nearly gave the STC athletes and their families a heart attack with a practical joke.
Eight girls on the South Tama track team earned All-Academic NICL honors. They are, from left, Shelby Bradley, Riley Craun, Taylor Ellenbecker, Erin Filloon, Samantha Holtz, Michelle Kroeger, Kelsey Kupka and Jade Rohach.
"I've decided not to return as head coach next year," Corum said. "It was a very tough season that was too time demanding and too difficult."
After a moment of silence and dropped jaws in the room, Corum laughed and told everyone that he will be back as head coach next spring. His response brought smiles and applause.
At the beginning of the banquet, Corum briefly recapped the season.
"What a crazy season," Corum said. "It started with pulling an old, retired guy out of a rocking chair to come and coach girls. It's something I've never done before. It was a challenge, but I do like challenges. Then we had to battle Mother Nature. We lost a lot. Actually we lost four track meets, which really hurt because it didn't give a lot of our girls a chance to run. We were pretty fortunate, because some teams only had two or three meets before districts. That is about as tough as you can get."
South Tama's girls track and field team won a pair of meets this spring. They won at Ballard and the North Iowa Cedar League West Division title, which was their first in school history. The Lady Trojans finished second at two meets, third at three meets, fourth and fifth at one and eighth at the toughest Class 3A District in Grinnell.
"I've never experienced a season like this, but I have to say it's probably been my most rewarding year as a coach," Corum said. "For them to meet me head on was big, because it was a big culture change. To see them grow, improve and be competitive was rewarding.
"It was pretty impressive from a team that didn't know how good they could be," he added. "For me it was pretty doggone special."
Corum and assistant coach Olivia Van Zante started the awards with the All-Academic NICL honors. They went to Shelby Bradley, Riley Craun, Taylor Ellenbecker, Erin Filloon, Samantha Holtz, Michelle Kroeger, Kelsey Kupka and Jade Rohach. Trisha Walz didn't receive an award at the banquet, but later received one as she was left off of the list from the STC office.
"It says a lot about you as a student," Corum said. "Remember, it's always student first and then athlete. Sometimes we lose track of that. You have to have the student part before the athlete part, always."
Three STC girls earned All-NICL honors for their performance at the conference meet. They had to place first or second in an individual event. They were Bradley in the long jump, Rohach in the 200-meter dash and Holtz in the shot put and discus.
The entire Lady Trojans team received recognition for the conference championship.
"Little known to us, if you win the conference championship, they don't give you a trophy to display," Corum said. "They give you individual medals. The trouble is they only give you 20 medals. If you have a team of 100, they give you 20 medals. So Mr. (Jim) Plantz and Superintendent (Kerri) Nelson decided, because of the great job you have done, to give every girl a medal. You girls deserve this. This was going to cost extra, but this was a budget item they put aside and didn't worry about."
After the participation certificates and athletic letters were given out, Corum and Van Zante gave out eight specialty awards. They decided the winner of each award. Those winners were:
Field event award Shelby Bradley
Sprinter's Award Jade Rohach
Distance Award Kelsey Kupka
Freshman Award Belle Tyynismaa
Most Promising Madie Bacon
Most Improved Taylor Ellenbecker
Coach's Award Riley Craun
MVP Samantha Holtz
"These are always hard," Corum said. "Every one of you deserved an award for the success you've had. Coach Van Zante and I talked about these long and hard and it was a tough decision on some of these."