CAMANCHE--The Indian family caught a break in our winter weather and were able to spend a cozy Saturday reminiscing and honoring the Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019 as they were inducted at Gil's Ballroom.
Seven individuals and a track and field team were a part of the ceremony on Saturday night. It was a night full of memories and even some tears. In a speech that was referenced multiple times throughout the rest of the night, inductee Kelsay McCausland summarized what a lot of the athletes feel about their times at Camanche High School.
"My time spent as an athlete at Camanche played a significant role in the person that I am today," McCausland said. "It's all of the individuals and lessons that's built me. I once had someone tell me that athletics are the second half of our education, which I believe is something we can all agree upon. It teaches us things that textbooks can't. The lessons that we learn from participation go far beyond the game itself."
The plaque honoring this year's class can be seen displayed at Imperial Lanes.
McCausland graduated from Camanche in 2007 and was a three sport standout. She earned 11 varsity letters in basketball, volleyball and track and field.
As a senior she was named the MVP of all three of her respective teams, and earned the title of Big East Conference MVP and Clinton Herald Player of the Year in volleyball. She was a Drake Relays and state participant in track, placing three times in the discus and once in the shotput.
Volleyball was where she decided to take her talents after her prep career was over. At Ashford University she was a four year starter and earned a slew of accolades as their middle hitter.
In addition to thanking her friends and her family for all their support, McCausland also recalled one of her biggest life lessons. After not performing as she wanted at the state track and field meet, she was sitting with her mother 'feeling sorry for herself'.
While there, a partial amputee came up and sat down next to them.
"I guess things aren't so bad are they," the girl said.
McCausland said that that moment changed a lot of her perspectives.
"Instead of being so disappointed in the way I performed, I realized I should be grateful I had to opportunity to do something that many others only dream of," McCausland said.
"Thank you for always helping me see the bigger picture," she added to her mother.
McCausland still coaches to this day, and had numerous people she said helped her get too where she was.
"I'd like to thank you, the people who make up the community of Camannche," McCausland said. "The support this town shows to it's school and it's athletes is amazing. My high school experience has led me to some incredible places and allowed me to interact with some incredible people, and it all started with me being a young kid from the small town of Camanche and it was this town, community and teams that built me."
GARY FOSTER, JR.
Gary Foster, Jr. has had a long and successful career in the military, earning masters and doctorates in industrial engineering. Before all of that, Foster was a Camanche athlete.
Definitely always smart. He graduated as valedictorian in 1986. With that, he was a three sport athlete. He ran cross country, got two trips to state as a wrestler and was one four state championship tennis teams.
Foster recalled stories about cutting weight and nicknames like "Grumpy Smurf", but talked a lot about how going through the Camanche school system was crucial -- starting with something as simple as facilities.
"When I talk about fortunes we have to talk about facilities," Foster said. "I have two daughters who finished out their high school careers, so I've been to a lot of high schools. You will not find any better tennis facilities in the state of Iowa, and definitely the state of Colorado."
He also touted the youth programs, recognizing that it was a big reason he ended up as successful as he was in high school.
"Our feeder programs, they set the stage for our success," Foster said. "Athletics is great for kids. It established character very early."
Finally Foster looked around the room and started naming teams and athletes that played in the same era. He said the time he grew up played a huge role.
"I was very fortunate to be an athlete in the 80s," Foster said. "I consider that the golden times. Over half the athletes in the hall of fame have come from the 80s."
Doug Timmer focused his attention on the courts. He was a 3-year starter for the Indians as a basketball standout. Before graduating in 1988 he joined the 1,000 point club and earned accolades like all-state recognition. He then moved on to take his talents to Cornell College.
"I was a year round basketball player before that was really a thing," Timmer said. "It was what I loved and it was my way to escape some of the uncertainties I didn't want to deal with."
He found his role models in the other athletes at Camanche.
"When I think back to my time at Camanche, the people I was really impressed with were athletes who seemed they could do anything. They played multiple sports, and all of them well. To me, those were the people who really impressed me and were models."
Timmer jested about some of his goals that never truly came to fruition, like playing on a state tournament basketball team and playing for Bobby Knight. He then reflected with fondness on growing up on the same street as classmates and the memories they had on the floor.
"I would not change a thing," Timmer said. "It's the time that I put in with my teammates, the people who played against us in the area. I would not change that."
Another air force bound star came in Mike Campie. Campie stood out on the turf as an all-state linebacker for the Indians. He ended up setting records as a rusher down the line.
But then you get to add in his tennis success. He touts a doubles state title, a team championship, runner-up and third place finish. All of that before a successful college career and the air force.
For him, it was all about the family support.
"My dad was my coach for a long time," Campie said, getting emotional. "I am recognizing how difficult that is to be a coach of your children. It's not easy and requires a lot of sacrifice."
It's something many of the athletes mentioned in their thank yous.
"So many miles, traveling hundreds of miles to watch my games, and they would have done ten times that to be there, our parents," Campie said. "What tremendous gifts."
An undoubtedly talented athlete, Campie said that every support system he had in place was a gift and he wouldn't have been successful without them.
"The accomplishments were probably 90 percent gifts and 10 percent me," Campie said.
Brent Carstensen has had an unbelievable career as the Indians' head wrestling coach already, with it bound to continue with a 15-2 season so far. Before that, he was a standout on his own.
Carstensen participated in football, wrestling and track, earning 10 varsity letters along the way. He was on the 1985 state football team, was a state track qualifier and a three-time state wrestling qualifier. He capped off his career with a state title his senior year in 1987.
Carstensen reminded the crowd throughout his speech of one particular Jim Rohn quote: "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."
"There are a lot of people more deserving athletically," Carstensen said. He then listed athletes that made an impact on his career and his teams. "The rest of my team is the reason I was ever any good."
Carstensen went on the wrestle in college and then earn a degree in education. All of that he went back to the same quote.
"When my college roommates started graduating and looking back, they went on to real lives. They all graduated, and because of them I did."
He went south and coached, starting the first Houston Independent School District wrestling team in history. Now he's sharing his talents in his 18th year as the head coach in Camanche.
"I have been lucky in life to be surrounded by so many successful people," Carstensen said. "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."
Brad Lego happened to be one of the athletes from a older generation. He earned nine varsity letters as an Indian, earning All-State recognition in football. He also ended with a fourth place finish at state wrestling.
Lego then received a scholarship to continue his football career. It ended prematurely with a knee injury.
He thrilled the crowd talking about football "back in the day". His favorite memories included the teams' one loss which he blamed on the fog.
"They won because they didn't give us any 'fog plays'," Lego said. "I bet North Scott had 'fog plays' in the books."
He also mentioned the pit of sand burrs they practiced in, remembering the callouses they built up by the end of the season.
"It was just a bunch of really dedicated hard working kids," Lego said. "Now, I don't know if there would be kids rolling around in sand burrs."
Mike Ashby is one of Camanche's most touted coaches. But first, he was a high school and collegiate athlete in his own right elsewhere including holding records in the high hurdles.
After graduating from Central College where he enjoyed a successful cross country career, he dabbled in coaching before ending up in Camanche as the wrestling coach.
"It's somewhat ironic that I stand here because of accomplishments in wrestling," Ashby said. We all know that hard work and dedication help us reach our goals, but my goal was to be a football coach. If I had achieved that goal I certainly wouldn't be here today."
While the head coach he celebrated three undefeated dual seasons, over 100 dual wins and state appearances. he was a part of the first state team dual appearance and earned the 1987 Coach of the Year honor.
His speech always came back to his "lucky stars".
"A lot of what we accomplished were because of our lucky stars," Ashby said. "Our lucky stars were the people of Camanche.
"I appreciated the parents, the faculty, the staff and particularly the students that I had because it was their accomplishments that made it fun and enjoyable."
The state appearances and titles have left a mark, with one of his former athletes (Brent Carstensen) boasting success in the same program. He could not say enough, however, about how it was truly his athletes who put in the work. Life and fate put him in the right place at the right time.
"You can't overdue hard work and dedication, but life throws a lot of lucky breaks your way," Ashby said. "Take advantage of them."
1986-1988 GIRLS TRACK
It was a touching reunion for the 1986-1988 girls track participants. As they walked up to receive their recognition, they still looked like a close team.
Assistant coach LuAnn Borrison started off the talk emotionally. She talked about head coach Jane Montgomery, and how excited they were all to see her. They were disappointed she was unable to make it and made sure everyone know what a significant impact she had.
Then, it was memory time.
"Wow, over thirty years," Borrison said. "Where has the time gone."
Borrison recalled the first state championship. They had qualifiers and knew they had the potential to garner some points. On the second day of competition at Drake Stadium, they heard the team standings over the PA.
"Jane's thing was to clean," Borrison recalled. "She started cleaning, folding blankets and tidying up our area."
The team needed a championship in the 4x400 Relay, and they got it. They followed that up with an indoor championship.
At the next outdoor meet, Borrison said they felt a lot more pressure. She even had a coach come up and tell her that they were favored to win it again. The athletes pulled through, though. They won four championships over a 20 month span.
"I am as proud today as Jane and I were over thirty years ago," Borrison said. "This group was extremely talented, but they worked extremely hard."
It included Audrey Everson, Alysia Gonzales Hill, Michelle Gertson Curran, Michelle Null Sikkema, Shannon Phelps Wisor, Ami Seeser Henricksen, Stacy Shaff Seeser, Michelle Winter Keen, Paula Hundley Stutting, Gerry Edens Hardison, Kelly Fuhrmann, and Michele Meyermann.