The Ottumwa Courier


June 20, 2013

Ottumwa softball program to celebrate 40 years of successs


"It's going to be neat for them to see our current team play," Huston said about his former players. "It will be good to renew friendships with them. It's always good to rekindle the good memories of season's past."

On Thursday afternoon, the softball committee, which consists of five former softball players --Crouse-Spurgeon, 1995; Missy Carson-Roark, 1978, Kelly Coulter, 1994; Sherry Strunk, 1985; Kristen Cavison, 1992; -- were huddled near some picnic tables busily getting ready for a weekend that, after months of meticulous planning, was now only a day away.

"We spent many hours tracking down alumni players," Coulter said, "Facebook has been a big help there. It's been kind of reunion itself in the last nine or 10 months."

The tables were decorated and ornamented by pictures sent by past players that told the story of Ottumwa softball through the years.

"There's 40 years of pictures here," Crouse-Spurgeon said. "I've tried to hit every age generation."

For Huston, who started coaching in Ottumwa when President Richard Nixon was knee-deep in Watergate hearings and gas only costed 39 cents a gallons, the ennobled phrase legend is an apt one. Success-wise, the veteran coach's record speaks for itself: two state championships (1976, 1995), 26 state appearances, 14 final four appearances, 49 tournament victories, 95 All-State players, 75 young women who went on to play college, including 12 Division 1 players; 1990 National Softball Coach of the Year, being named to the Iowa Softball Hall of Fame in 1994, an .811 winning percentage (the highest win percentage of any coach in the nation), etc., etc., etc.

"He definitely has a unique style of coaching," Coulter said. "There is just something there that makes the magic happen all the time."

While the technology in softball is much different than when Huston started as skipper at Ottumwa, one thing has remained consistent: The Bulldogs winning legacy."We just had some kids who were really good athletes to start with and that tradition continues," Roark, who played on the 1976 championship team, said.And, this legacy continues to foster an interest in softball for generations of young girls who grow up watching the Bulldogs play.

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