Prep Sports

Remembering the inspiration behind The Gazette's Athlete of the Year awards

Ogden column: Happy Father's Day to Jack Ogden

The late Jack Ogden, a Gazette sportswriter and editor, in the 1950s. (The Gazette)
The late Jack Ogden, a Gazette sportswriter and editor, in the 1950s. (The Gazette)

CLAYTON — As I sit here at my kitchen table, keeping an eye on the Mississippi River and listening to my wife work her job from the living room, I wonder WWDD.

What Would Dad Do.

That’s fitting, since as I tap by fingers on this laptop keyboard, it’s Father’s Day. My wife had to remind me of that when I woke Sunday morning. I knew it on some level — I’d heard many commercials about it — but it wasn’t top of mind.

It’s also fitting because, as I write this, we are in the midst of honoring top senior athletes from The Gazette’s circulation area. As we’re reminded every year at this time, these awards were “inspired by the sportswriting career” of my father, Jack Ogden.

Meet the 2020 Gazette Female Athlete of the Year finalists

Meet the 2020 Gazette Male Athlete of the Year finalists

These outstanding young athletes honored Sunday as finalists have no idea who Jack Ogden was. That’s too bad, I thought, because he was a champion of high school sports throughout his 25-plus year career, especially of girls’ high school sports at a time when many thought girls shouldn’t be athletes, shouldn’t be athletic.

Many of our readers — especially our newspaper readers — remember my father. I hear tales every week from people who remember a story he wrote about them or from a player he coached during an equally long career at Immaculate Conception or All Saints.

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He would be thrilled with our finalists — Will Esmoil of West Liberty, Cael Happel of Lisbon, Calvin Harris of Western Dubuque, Cam Miller of Solon and Logan Schmitt of Independence on the male side, Caitlynn Daniels of Xavier, Abby and Grace Flanagan of North Linn, Marie Hostetler of Mid-Prairie, Adrianna Katcher of Center Point-Urbana and Kayba Laube of Marion on the female side.

He loved the multisport athlete — specialization wasn’t an athletic term in his day — and coached, among other things, football and basketball. But he also wrestled during his high school years in Davenport. Track and field/cross country were later favorites, mainly because they were the sports my sister, Candy, excelled at.

That checks about every box on our list this year and, quite frankly, every year since his death in 1982.

Covering events like the girls’ state basketball and softball tournaments were among his favorites, the latter often tied into a family vacation.

He was a reporter of thousands, a coach to hundreds and fan of all things high school. You would have enjoyed seeing his byline on a “Meet the Preps” column about you and your accomplishments.

Check back Sunday to see who our winners are.

My father also has been on my mind of late because, well, things continue to be strange in what we do as sports writers — what we do as journalists — thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. While we continue to work from home — or in my case — our “home” in this “tiny town on the mighty Mississippi,” I wonder what he’d be doing.

He was not a fan of technology. He threatened to quit every time a new computer system was introduced, which was often in the latter part of his career. Zoom conferences and meetings? Working from home on a remote desktop via a wireless connection?

It would have been enough to drive him out of the business. But probably not.

Happy Father’s Day.

Comments: jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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