CEDAR RAPIDS — Butch Pedersen was asked Thursday night how many seasons he has been head football at West Branch High School. He couldn’t tell you, off the top of his head.
That’s a good thing. It means he still has passion for the game.
“I’ve never even counted them,” he laughed. “I started as head coach in 1983. If I started counting them, I’d worry about how old I’m getting. It has gone extremely fast, and I still have some time left in me. People always ask me how long I’m going to coach, and I always tell them my wife doesn’t want me home anyway, so I’ll keep going.”
Do the math, and Pedersen just completed his 35th season at the school. The Bears went 9-0 in the regular season and made another playoff appearance.
Thursday, he received the prestigious award of national prep football coach of the year by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“I didn’t know anything about it, to be honest with you.” said Pedersen, 67. “I knew that I was nominated, knew I had gotten the one for Iowa from this agency. But I didn’t know about this one until I got your call ... I went down to our AD and said, ‘Well, The Gazette wants to talk to me about being national coach of the year.’ And he said ‘Well, no one has said a word to us. I haven’t heard a word from anybody.’ Then we got on the website, and it’s on there.”
The NFHS has honored coaches in 20 boys and girls sports and three “other” categories since 1982. Iowa City West’s David Rosenthal also was honored Thursday as national girls’ soccer coach of the year.
“I’m truly honored to receive this award, there’s no question about that,” said Pedersen, who is 296-74 with two state championships at West Branch. “There are a lot of great football coaches in the state of Iowa, and to be singled out like that is a complete honor to be. I want to share it with all the other coaches in the state of Iowa. High school coaches play a big role in the lives of kids. Coaches should remember that, because we all give our hearts and souls to it.”
Pedersen also thanked his wife, Jennifer, their two sons and daughter for their support.
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“Been blessed to have a bunch of outstanding assistant coaches and players and parents and people in our community, too,” he said. “We have always have tried to stress a family atmosphere. We stress a community tradition. So this award is a program award, not only for this team but all of the teams that have played football at West Branch in the past and those in the future. I accept this award for all of those guys.”
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