Prep Sports

Coaches like Cascade's Bob Davidshofer are rare - and getting rarer

Ogden column: Cross country coach begins 56th season later this month

Bob Davidshofer will begin his 56th season as a cross country coach in Cascade later this month. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)
Bob Davidshofer will begin his 56th season as a cross country coach in Cascade later this month. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Don’t blink. You might miss it.

Chances are, though, you haven’t and you won’t.

Tomorrow is Aug. 1. Don’t fret. There still is plenty of summer left, many more hot and humid days are ahead and there’s lots of time for more corn, BLTs and watermelon.

But, if you haven’t noticed, it’s also the unofficial start of fall from a sports point of view.

As the Iowa high school state baseball tournament heats up in Des Moines, Iowa State will introduce its 2019 football team on Friday. UNI and Iowa do the same next week, holding their media days on Aug. 7 and 9, respectively. Practices, of the official kind, start Friday.

It’s the same for high school.

Football teams with Week 0 games begin practice on Monday. In our neck of the woods, that means players and coaches from Springville, English Valleys, HLV, Lone Tree, Iowa Valley, Midland and Montezuma are working on practice schemes and preparing for the 2019 season. If they haven’t already.

A week later, on Aug. 12, the rest of the state joins the fun. And it’s not just football. Volleyball, cross country and girls’ swimming kick into gear, too.

The first event of the “fall” is the Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ golf super meet, set for Aug. 15 at St. Andrews Golf Course.

There will be many athletes prepping for their first high school experience, a handful of coaches just starting their careers and a few adding seasons and wins to an already impressive resume.

There will be Bob Davidshofer.

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The 80-year-old Davidshofer will begin his 56th season as a high school cross country coach on Aug. 12, his 44th at Cascade.

“It’s a special time of year for me,” he said earlier this week.

And while he said “the end is near” several times in a variety of ways, you get the feeling Davidshofer could do this forever.

“I still look forward to it,” he said. “It’s been a big part of my life.”

Davidshofer has had plenty of success. A runner himself in his younger days — he ran the 880 and mile as a prep in Cherokee but now “I’m pretty much a walker” — he coached the Cascade Aquin boys’ team to three state titles before moving over to Cascade, where he also owns three state team titles. He’s a relative rookie on the girls’ side, taking over that program 38 years ago. He has led the Cougar girls to nine state titles.

“I’ve been very fortunate here,” he said. “A lot of great talent.”

He recently was honored by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association with the Carey E. McDonald National Citation. The award recognizes “those persons of national renown who have made a unique contribution to high school, amateur or professional sports ...” This isn’t an annual award, either, given only when the national executive committee decides it has a worthy candidate.

“I was surprised, but certainly happy with it,” Davidshofer said.

Davidshofer, however, isn’t in this for these types of honors. State championships are great, obviously, but “working with the young athletes” is his legacy.

Coaches like Davidshofer are rare, and getting rarer. Not many men and women stay in the game this long anymore.

Davidshofer has some advice for those just starting out.

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“You’re not just doing it for a job,” he said. “You’ve got to be dedicated to the sport and really like it.”

Davidshofer knows “I can’t go on forever,” but my guess is plenty of folks in and around Cascade wish he could.

We need more high school coaches who are dedicated to their sport and their athletes. We need more Bob Davidshofers.

“When I started I never thought I’d be coaching this long,” he said. “It’s been a learning process my entire career.”

We could all learn things a few things from this coach.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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