OTTUMWA -- On Friday, an estimated 80 or more Ottumwa softball alumni from as far away as Georgia will cram into Huston Field to watch the No. 1 ranked Bulldog softball team take on two highly ranked opponents to kick off a reunion weekend that will celebrate legendary softball coach Frank Huston's 40th year at the helm of Ottumwa's renowned program.
While the games alone -- the first against No. 2 ranked Pleasant Valley (Class 5A) at 5.p.m., the second against No. 6 (Class 5A) ranked Waukee at 7 p.m. -- will fill the night with a special ambience, the quality of the competition isn't the main motivation for the reunion.
For the most part, these former Bulldogs -- some coming in from Florida, others from Colorado, some making the trek from Virginia, or North Carolina, or South Dakota, or, yes, even Georgia -- will be there to pay homage to Huston and incredible edifice of success he and his players have built, brick by brick; over the past 40 years."Coach means so much to so many of us," Amy Crouse-Spurgeon, a member of the alumni committee that put together the event and a player on the 1995 state championship team, said. "It would give you gooesebumps to see how far some were willing to travel for this."Spurgeon, however, wasn't surprised by how many people were willing to venture back to Ottumwa this weekend.
"We [the softball committee] expected this because we knew how much he [Huston] and the program have meant to all these girls over the years," Spurgeon said.
After the games, an alumni social will be put on at Courtside Bar and Grill. Then, on Saturday, former player will be pitted against former player in a game that will be played in the familiar confines of Huston Field; a place that conjures up cherished memories for so many former Bulldogs. The alumni will arrive at the field at 10 a.m. and ceremonies are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. The game itself will begin at 11:30 a.m. The public is invited to attend all the reunion events.