CLINTON — Jane Montgomery’s long and storied coaching career may be over.

She’s not closing the coaching door completely, but the longtime Camanche High School coach and former physical education teacher could be stepping away from coaching.

“I’m not sure,” said Montgomery, who retired from teaching two years ago. “If I’d come back for track it would be as an unpaid assistant. I really like the kids we have. That’s why it’s hard to say good-bye.”

Montgomery, who has bought a house in Union Grove State Park in Gladbrook in central Iowa, plans to sell her home in Camanche and move to her new house in the very near future.

She has been a fixture at Camanche High for some 35 years, making a difference in the lives of thousands of students and athletes she taught and coached.

Montgomery coached four girls sports over the years — basketball, softball, track and field, and volleyball.

“For over five years I was involved in all four year-round,” she said.

She was the head coach in all four sports at various times. She spent 27 years coaching both track and field, and volleyball, 17 years coaching basketball and four years coaching softball.

Montgomery had the good fortune to coach four state champion track teams — two indoor and two outdoor, numerous state track and field individual and relay champions, a state volleyball runner-up and two other volleyball state qualifiers, and many athletes that went on to star at the college level, several at NCAA Division I programs.

“It keeps you young being around the kids and all the energy they have,” Montgomery said of coaching.

Though she ended up spending much of her life doing it, Montgomery said coaching wasn’t originally in her post-college plans.

“I really hadn’t planned on coaching when I graduated college,” she said. “My first inclination was to go to law school. I was just going to teach for four or five years to get some money for college. I didn’t think this was where I was going to settle. But, when I got here it was just love with the community. Then, opportunities presented themselves. Then, pretty soon 10 years went by, then 20 years, then 30 years.

“I came and interviewed here on a whim. I thought I wanted to teach at a larger high school. That’s where I came from. But, my family’s roots are here. My dad was born in Green Island and pitched for Davenport High School in the late 1930s.”

Montgomery was instrumental in the development of girls sports at Camanche High.

“I came from Marshalltown High School, and we didn’t have girls sports back then,” she said. “When I got to Camanche there was nothing for the girls to do other than cheerlead, and they had a dance line. I thought that was rather sad. So, we started a girls recreation program.

“Our second year into it I entered us into the state volleyball tournament, and we qualified for state. From there the kids got a taste of it, and they just loved it.”

Montgomery said her coaching longevity has given her the chance to be a part of numerous families.

“What’s rather unique is some of the athletes I had early on had daughters that I also had the chance to have,” she said. “It’s been wonderful to be a part of those families for such a long period of time.”

Montgomery has built lasting relationships with many of her former students and athletes.

“Half of my friends are former students,” she said. “My sister says that even though I’ve never had children of my own that I’ve had about 1,000 kids. They become a part of your life. You hurt when they hurt. You share their joys.”

Montgomery has also enjoyed the coaches she’s worked with over the years.

“I’ve been so blessed with the assistants and head coaches I’ve worked with, beginning with Brenda (girls track head coach Brenda Metzger),” she said. “I had her as a student, then she was an assistant for me and now I’m an assistant for her.

“LuAnn Borrison and I have been coaching together for 30 years. And, in recent years Mark Cremer was an assistant to me in volleyball, then I was an assistant to him. And, he’s also helped us with track.”

Would Montgomery coach anywhere other than Camanche?

“I don’t think so, but my new neighbor across the road (at her new house) has granddaughters in the Gladbrook-Reinbeck school district and has approached me about coaching opportunities there,” she said.

An avid traveler, Montgomery hopes to continue her globetrotting.

“I’ve been to 14 countries and all 50 states,” she said. “I hope to do more traveling. I love seeing new places and experiencing different cultures.”

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