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North Tama Redhawks through thick and thin

October 29, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor (cjeilers@traerstarclipper.com) , Traer Star-Clipper

For 60 years, Roger and Wayne Janssen have watched Traer/North Tama athletics through the best and worst of times; hard-fought victories, tough losses and everything in between. Still involved in the program to this day, the brothers relate their experience and thoughts on today's football program.

"When we were little kids, our dad passed away and mom always had to work," Wayne said. "The superintendent at the time let us ride the pep bus with the high school kids and we were probably nine or 10 years old at the time. We went to every game we could go to and have been to thousands of games between all sports we've covered."

Make that approximately 500 football games, 2,000 basketball games and countless other events over the years in various capacities.

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Roger got started with covering athletics at a young age by attending the first wrestling meets in a then new gym 1956 and would keep team and individual scores on a simple chalkboard. His involvement continued into high school as he helped with scores for basketball road games and then later home games as well for clock and scoring keeping. Eventually, Roger worked football after high school, taking up duties such as chain gang, clock and then taking the mic as an announcer as he's done ever since.

"I wanted to be around the kids and be involved with them," Roger said. "I worked at Joe Kopriva's feed store in the 1965 and watched his children grow up in athletics. I wish I had a penny for every mile we've put on 1965, going to games for his kids through school and then Danny playing minor league. Now it's about following his grandkids and other third generations I've followed over the years. It's something fun to do."

Wayne started out helping J.L. Lister with little league games from umpiring to coaching, also scouted basketball for him and ran the clock. When McDermott arrived at North Tama, Wayne did stats for many years and also some clockwork for basketball over many years.

"One year, we were following the boys basketball team as they played Marshalltown," Wayne said. "We were 18-3 and Marshalltown was one of the best teams in Iowa history at 30-0 with all college players. That was a wild game. I also remember one year when we played at Dike in the rain and my stats were shredded because of the weather. We won with a trick play and pouring like crazy."

In addition to announcing football, Roger also announces games out at the sports complex since it was created in 1982, calling nearly every game except during a four-year period before coming back to baseball to announce for a familiar face.

"I announced softball and another announcer with two kids playing announced for them," Roger said. "Now I announce again for Danny [Kopriva] and his teams.There's been a lot of close games and if we had the playoffs back in those times, we would have been there many years for football or baseball. I remember one of our baseball teams was 45-3 in 1970s with each of the three pitches with one loss on the season. We had to face Mason City because back then there was only one class"

As Wayne continues to watch Redhawk football come back after several down years, he feels he's watching classic McDermott in action; taking young athletes and making them better on and off the field.

"I'm surprised at where we are at this year," Wayne said. "I knew our district had some good teams and others that are bad. I've watched these kids get pummeled for the last three years and now suddenly we are back at the top. Our quarterbacks are good and I believe we'll win some more games next year."

Over the season, Roger has seen students get up early in order to drive over to the school and commit themselves to the weight room to break a streak of losing seasons under a coach they all admire.

"The kids all love McDermott and when kids love their coach they'll work for him," Roger said. "Every morning, they are lifting weights and I can see a solid stream of cars going to the school at 6 a.m. rain or shine. As long the room is open, they are there for him."

Both siblings are impressed with the team's turn around in 2018 and attribute much of the success to McDermott, who recently was voted into the top 15 for U.S. Cellular's Most Valuable Coach contest.

"He deserves the recognition for as many hours as many he spends," Roger said. "If you want to see who holds records in North Tama history, talk to Coach McDermott and he has them all."

Yet despite the recent success of the football and volleyball programs at North Tama, Wayne has noticed a disturbing trend with today's young people and athletes.

"When I started carried mail 40 years ago, nearly every driveway had kids playing ball or shooting hoops," Wayne said. "Today, I can hardly find a kid doing anything outside playing on their computers or phones. Roger and I would play baseball all day as kids and now it seems like they don't do that anymore."

However, Roger and Wayne carry on helping North Tama athletics throughout most of the season, watching the third generation of North Tama Redhawks take the field, court and track humbly in the press box or even in the stands. Throughout many seasons and many coaching changes, the Janssens remain two diehard Redhawks who love the games and have made an impact many may not see.

 
 

 

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