A gym can be a busy place on a Friday night during the high school basketball season. On Friday, Jan. 24, the MVAOCOU Rams hosted the Westwood Rebels in a Western Valley Conference match-up. While the results of the games were split as Westwood won the girls game and MVAOCOU took boys games, there are many “stories behind the scenes”waiting to be told. Read the special series “A Night in the Gym.”
This is MVAOCOU boys basketball coach Josh Koenigs’ first year as a head coach but he has been coaching basketball for the last 15 years.
Koenigs started coaching when he lived in Omaha, Neb., and his neighbor asked him if he would like to coach their daughter’s team. When he moved back to the Mapleton area in 2006, Koenigs started as a boys assistant coach at MVAO.
A Maple Valley graduate, Koenigs was a two-year starter for the Rams, including being a member of 1997-1998 team that went to state.
He switched to being a girls assistant coach when his niece, Hannah, got to high school. After she graduated, Koenigs took a year or two off before going back to being an assistant coach for the boys.
In his first season as a head coach, Koenigs has learned there are a lot more administrative duties to coaching then just basketball side of it.
“There’s bus scheduling, being in charge of daily practice plans, doing coaches corner with the radio, entering stats into QuikStats,” Koenigs said. “The biggest thing is just how much behind-the-scenes stuff there is. You have to make sure you’re prepared, not just for the next day, but for the week. You almost have to plan a week in advance.”
Even with his busy schedule as a head coach, Koenigs still finds time to help with his kids youth basketball teams.
Koenigs has been involved with coaching for so many years simply because he likes the game.
“I like being around the kids. It keeps me young. I think I relate to them, and I feel like I have something to offer still, and I’m continuing to learn every day,” Koenigs said.
He added that having a good basketball coaching staff (girls and boys) around has really helped. He said he’s learned a lot from former head boys coach Brian Brown and from his high school basketball coach, Alden Berkenpas.
Preparation for game day starts on Monday for MVAOCOU Athletic Director Jordan Scholl when he checks in with the officials to make sure they’re still planning on coming.
One of Scholl’s biggest fears is to not have any officials.
He also checks in with the concession stand workers and money takers.
On game day, Scholl starts preparing after lunch as he gets the moneybags for the concession stand/gate, picks up the programs from Mrs. Sass, and checks over the concession stand to make sure it is stocked for the evening. Then he does a walk though in the gym to make sure the side hoops are up, checks the scoreboard, makes sure the floor is clean, and double-checks the locker rooms.
“None of it is difficult. I’ve got a routine,” Scholl said. Around 3 p.m. he checks in with Principal Dan Dougherty to go over his list.
Most conference game nights include four games, starting with the junior varsity girls at 4 p.m., followed by junior varsity boys and varsity girls before concluding with the varsity boys.
At 3:15 p.m., the Westwood girls arrived for the junior varsity game, and at 3:45 p.m., Scholl meets with the officials for the junior varsity game.
With the 4 p.m. start time, Scholl said it can be hard sometimes to find officials who can make it to the gym by 4 p.m.
Around 5 p.m., Scholl greets the officials for the varsity game and talks to them and gives them their checks.
He also has to remember to place the pizza and burger orders for the concession stand.
“Judging how much food to order is one of the hardest things,” Scholl said.
Once the game tips-off, Scholl’s duties are on an “as-needed” basis, like printing more programs, getting ice if a player gets hurt, or restocking something in the concession stand. He puts the ball racks away at the game start, knocks on the locker room at the two-minute warning during halftime, and checks in with the officials and score table workers to see if they need anything.
The best part of being an athletic director for Scholl is getting to talk to people.
“There are always different challenges and to troubleshoot the challenges that come up,” Scholl said.
Being on the athletic director side of things is still new for Scholl. This is his second year as athletic director after coaching girls basketball for 11 years. He said he’s still busy, it’s just a different kind of busy.
Late in the boys game, Scholl counts the money from the concession stand and gates that he will deposit it at the bank on his way home.
After the buzzer sounds and the fans and teams head home, typically, Scholl is the last one to leave the gym.
When a basketball player checks into the game, Jill Sadler marks it down in the scorebook, and Leanne Thies puts their number up on the scoreboard.
Sadler learned how to do the basketball scorebook about 15 years ago when her kids started playing basketball. She does the scorebook for all of the MVAOCOU home and away basketball games.
Athletic Director Jordan Scholl called Thies two years ago and asked if she would like to help run the scoreboard. Prior to helping with the scoreboard, Leanne did the scorebook at Charter Oak-Ute for 18 years. She has helped with the scorebook at one point during all four of her sons’ basketball careers.
Thies is also a basketball mom. Her son, Jamison, is a junior.
“It’s awesome (watching from the score table). I don’t get so into the game,” she said. “I see a lot more of the game.”
After doing the scorebook for so many years, it’s hard for her to just watch a basketball game in the stands. As the bookkeeper, Sadler has to write the score down every minute.
“I just can’t watch it (the game),” Sadler said.
One of the “perks” that comes with their duties is they get into the game for free.
“I played basketball, I like sports, and I love watching basketball. It’s one of my favorite sports, so it’s fun to be involved,” Sadler said.
By day, Ryan Freese of Sheldon is an agronomist at First Cooperative in Paullina, John Schmidt from Rock Rapids is a swine farm manager, and Monte Tilgner of Orange City is a chemist at Diamond Vogel in Orange City. On Friday night, they traded their work clothes for black-and-white striped shirts and black pants.
Not only can you see Ryan, John, and Monte officiating on the basketball court, but all three are also football officials. John said, at one-time, all three guys were on the some college football officiating crew.
Ryan started officiating basketball 15 years ago after talking with a co-worker. He officiates about four to five games a week and also officiates college basketball, too.
“I enjoy working with the kids,” Ryan said. He also likes the camaraderie amongst officials.
John has been officiating varsity basketball for 20 years, but has officiated football for 23 years. When he started officiating football, John said there was a crew of five guys from Rock Rapids that did it together for a number of years.
“My junior college football coaches were football officials, and they recommended that we do that after we got done with college,” he said.
He continues to be an official to keep involved with the game, and it keeps him active.
Monte has been officiating basketball 15 years after he coached basketball at MOC-Floyd Valley for close to 15 years.
“It is the camaraderie with officials. And it’s a way to stay close to the game,” he said.
Ryan is also a football official working high school, college, and indoor games and John has also done college football. This past fall, Ryan officiated one of the high school state championship football games, and John has worked five championships during his career.
Monte also officiates college and indoor football and has worked three bowl games.
“He works Division I football, so it’s a little different,” Ryan laughed.
They are all quick to say they prefer officiating football over basketball.
Friday, Jan. 24 was senior night at MVAOCOU. The Lady Rams have two seniors on their roster, Avery Ehlers and MaKenzie Smith.
Smith started her high school basketball playing at Charter Oak-Ute. Smith said, for a freshman, she saw quite a bit of varsity time. After MVAO and COU entered into a whole-grade sharing agreement, Smith has played her final three years at MVAOCOU.
“The atmosphere was different and practices went smoother,” Smith said as there are more girls to complete drills.
Before school, Smith will come in for basketball weightlifting. She has a short school day as she only has four classes. Then she helps Mrs. Blake’s third grade class and does work release at Maier Pharmacy.
She goes back to school for practice or shoot around before a game.
Smith’s day doesn’t end when she gets home from practice as she has livestock chores to do.
“Right now, it’s lambing season, so we are up in the middle of the night,” Smith said.
She said her freshman year was hard learning how to balance everything in her schedule as she puts a lot of time into both.
“I’m very involved in sports and want to be good at my sports, and I have to watch my calves because I want to be good at that, too.”
As she enters the final weeks of her senior season, Smith has enjoyed the team bonding the Lady Rams have done this season, which included a trip to a University of South Dakota basketball game. Smith will be attending USD in the fall to become a teacher.
The MVAOCOU FFA was in charge of the concession stand on Jan. 24.
All of the MVAOCOU activity groups have to help in the concession stand during the school year. Athletic Director Jordan Scholl said that when the kids work in the concession stand, it’s like community service to their activity.
FFA Advisor Jon Wimmer said about six to seven FFA members were signed up to help in the concession stand throughout the night.
Two FFA members say they like meeting people when working in the concession stand.
Sophomore Ethan Reed, who has helped a handful of times, said he likes helping in the concession stand.
Junior Jacob Redenius, “I like getting to know people and being interactive with them.”
Some of the most popular items are hot dogs, candy, nacho, pop, and popcorn.
Redenius said you get to know what people like if they are frequent customers at the concession stand.
It also gives students a chance to interact with the community and taking customers orders and counting money back to them.
“Working in the concession stand helps me learn to count back money easier,” Reed said.
The senior members of the MVAOCOU boys basketball team presented Ram Fan JP Cook with a gift. Cook has been a strong supporter over the years and the senior boys have really gotten to know him. Pictured is Dylan Blake getting ready to shake hands with JP Cook.
“Sideline” Notes by Jenna Comes, who put together this special feature…When I was a freshman in high school, I saved a, issue of “The Des Moines Register” when they put together a special “One Night in an Iowa Gym” that featured two schools I played against –Glidden-Ralston/Paton-Churdan. Now, looking at it 16 years later, I am reminded that one of the Register’s reporters in that special, Mark Siebert, was my advisor/newspaper advisor at Grand View University and Register photographer Doug Wells was my photography professor at Grand View.