Jerry Carstens was hard to coach against, and not always easy to play for.
“He was very demanding,” said Cindy McCarthy, a six-on-six girls’ basketball forward for Carstens at Midland High School in the early 1980s. “In practice, if you were a forward and made a bad pass, he’d stop practice and everybody would watch you do 15 sit-ups.
“If you were a guard and gave up an offensive rebound or gave up the baseline, you’d have to do 15 sit-ups.”
Carstens, who died Sunday at Hallmark Care Center in Mount Vernon at age 79, ranks 10th all-time among Iowa girls’ basketball coaches with 685 wins (against 246 losses). He took six teams to the state tournament (1969, 1970, 1981, 1989, 1992 and 1994).
“I remember Jerry as very, very competitive,” said Bob Bunting, who coached against Carstens at Wapsie Conference and Mid-East Conference rival Lisbon. “He was always hard to play against defensively, and he always had a big post girl on offense.
“He was very intense.”
A native of Manilla and a graduate of Buena Vista University, Carstens coached two seasons at Marathon High School, 39 at Midland.
Carstens also coached baseball and track at Midland, and was an assistant football coach. But he’ll be remembered for his work with the girls’ basketball program; he was inducted into the Iowa Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
“He was a perfectionist,” McCarthy said. “In practice, we would run our first-string forwards against our first-string guards. Most of practice was spent running plays. I can still remember most of them, they were so instilled in us.
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“He didn’t accept anything less than your best. During the season, there wasn’t a lot of love. He didn’t show it much, but I think he cared for us and was proud of what we did.”
Visitation will be held 4-8 p.m. Friday at Lahey & Dawson Funeral Home in Wyoming. The funeral service is 11 a.m. Saturday, also at the funeral home.
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