OTTUMWA — NHL hockey players and the head girls track coach at Davis County.
If this were an answer on "Jeopardy," the question would be "What group of men give up shaving during the months of spring?"
While he’s not in the business of growing a playoff beard, Mustang girls track coach Josh Husted does have the same tradition as the players that are pursuing the Stanley Cup when the months of April and May roll around each year.
“I have a tradition during the track season that I don’t shave,” Husted said. “So I was pretty ratty-looking by the end of this past season.”
That’s because Husted’s team made sure that the track season carried on as long as possible. The Davis County girls had runners, throwers and jumpers all over Drake Stadium last May during the Iowa High School Track and Field state championship meet, keeping the razor out of their coach’s hands until deep into the second full month of the year.
It is because of that success, however, that Husted will have to be clean shaven and dressed up next month when he receives an award from the Iowa High School Track and Field Coaches Association. Husted will be honored as one of the five to be honored as an At Large Class 2A Girls Track Coach of the Year in Ames on Dec. 7.
“I’ll have to clean myself up,” Husted joked “I’ll have to wear a tie and kakis.”
The formal dress attire was just one of the many things Husted himself found out about the award after being contacted about receiving the honor. It’s the first award that Husted has won for his accomplishments as a girls track coach and one that he didn’t even realize he was up for.
“It’s pretty amazing to be even nominated for this kind of an award,” Husted said. “I didn’t know they had these types of awards. As soon as it came out, I received a lot of congratulations from throughout the state.”
The awards, which are given out to six coaches for both boys and girls track in all four classes, are determined by a vote from track and field coaches and officials throughout the state. To earn that honor knowing that makes this award even more humbling for Husted.
“I knew we had a good season. In fact, it was a great season,” Husted said. “That feels great as a coach to know that your peers feel the same way about the season our team had.”
The Davis County girls track and field team put forth one of its most successful seasons in program history this past spring, sending 22 athletes on to Des Moines in 10 different events to give the Mustangs a real shot at the program’s first state team title since 1995. That opportunity was even more realistic after the first of three days of the state meet when the Mustangs saw themselves leading the Class 2A girl’s team standings.
“It’s a pretty big deal to have a team that led at state for two-and-a-half days,” Husted said. “To see that big scoreboard at Drake Stadium and see Davis County on top in 2A was a pretty big deal.”
For Husted, earning an individual coaching award is something he will gladly share with all the prep athletes and fellow coaches that helped put the Mustang girls track program at the top of those state meet standings. It’s that kind of total team effort that has helped Husted raise the bar for Davis County girls track in just seven seasons as coach.
“Dennis Anderson works with the kids. Brad Nelson is my assistant coach. All those guys do a great job helping get the kids ready to compete each year,” Husted said. “I really think this is a team effort and obviously the kids are a big part of it. They have to buy into the team concept. I always thank the girls at the end of each season for making us coaches look so good.”
The best may still be yet to come for the Mustang girls, who will return several of those 22 state qualifiers this spring. Compared to where the team was when he first took over, Husted is extremely excited to see just how high Davis County can set the bar for its program in 2014.
“The first season, I started giving out end-of-season booklets,” Husted said. “That first year, our biggest accomplishment was we almost won a meet. Now we’ve won conference titles, district titles and we’ve battled for the state title. It’s a testament to the kids and the coaches and the effort they put into building the program up to this point.
“We’re just looking for bigger and better things each year.”
While there may be plenty of team awards to celebrate in the spring, Husted has kept the celebration of his first ever individual coaching award fairly quiet so far.
“I’m a pretty modest person. I take everything one step at a time,” Husted said. “I really haven’t mentioned it to anyone beyond my wife (Kelli) and (Davis County) athletic director (Rich Evans). I had to ask him to kind of find out what the award was.
“I’m just so proud to represent Davis County.”
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