Coaching and teaching bind Aurelia families
Though a son following his father into the "family business" was once a common practice, it has become less so in recent years. With Father's Day here, we take a look at three families who have a couple of things in common: 1) all three families have a father who is - or was - a school teacher and coach; and 2) all three families have strong ties to my home town of Aurelia.
Gaylen Miller was an Aurelia native who graduated from the former Westmar College and went on to teach and coach at Ida Grove High School from 1957 - 1964. He then left the field of education to return to his farming roots near Aurelia, where he and his wife Donna, also a teacher, raised two sons, John and Patrick, and two daughters, Amy and Elizabeth ("Bets").
"Big John," a lineman, played football at Aurelia under Coach Myron Radke, and when Coach Radke suddenly left Aurelia in late summer 1980 to move to Colorado, Gaylen Miller then stepped into the breach and returned to coaching, taking over as Head Coach of the Bulldog football team. He arrived just in time to coach his younger son Patrick, a quarterback and defensive back. Unfortunately, Coach Miller died of cancer after the 1983 season.
Myron Radke graduated from Alta High School in 1961 and, following his military service, graduated from Buena Vista College in 1971. He served as an assistant football coach at the former Crestland of Early for two years, and then his team posted a 7-2 record in his first year as Head Coach in 1973. Coach Radke, his wife Sue (an elementary school teacher) and their young family - sons Matt and Tom and daughter Amy - moved to Aurelia in 1974, when Myron took over as the head football coach at Aurelia.
After six successful years at Aurelia, the Radkes moved to Castle Rock, Colorado, where they lived for less than a year. Returning to Aurelia, Myron went to work as a hog buyer for IBP for several years, but said he realized after a while that he really missed coaching, teaching and the interaction with the kids, and that coaching and teaching were really what he was meant to do.
When Neil Phipps left the Aurelia football job after seven successful seasons - including a narrow loss in the 1986 State Championship game - Myron Radke gladly returned to "what (he) was meant to do" and coached and taught in the Aurelia School District, making a very successful transition to the 8-man football game several years ago.
Radke remained at Aurelia until his "retirement" at the end of this school year. Retirement is in quotes because 1) Coach Radke is serving as the Head Coach for the North team in the July 26 Shrine Bowl in Ames, and 2) he does plan to spend one more season on the gridiron this fall, serving on a volunteer basis with the capable Aurelia football staff, all of whom he considered to be fellow "head coaches" when he was the one who held that title.
Randy Galvin is a 1975 graduate of Aurelia High School, where he played on the Bulldogs' 1974 State Tournament basketball team and met his future wife Deb, the daughter of Royce and Joyce Cougill of Aurelia. Following his graduation from Buena Vista College in 1979, Randy accepted a teaching job at Crestland of Early, teaching all High School Social Studies subjects, along with some Physical Education classes. He also became the Head Boys' track coach, a position he continues to hold to this day at what is now Schaller-Crestland High School.
Randy says he has coached "pretty much everything" during his 29 years at Schaller-Crestland, and he has also served as the school's Athletic Director for the past 19 years, as well as serving as a member of the state Track and Field Joint Advisory Committee.
Randy and Deb - who has been employed at Citizens First National Bank of Storm Lake/Early for 18 years - have three sons, Heath, Tim and Cody, all of whom were active in sports in high school. "We have definitely been a sports family," says Randy Galvin, adding "We never forced our kids into athletics, it is just something they enjoyed, and maybe the environment had something to do with that!"
All three of the families - the Millers, Radkes and Galvins - obviously led lives in which sports were an integral part of their family life, and in each family's case, it has led to the creation of a second generation of coaches.
John is not sure exactly how many years he coached at Aurelia, but is proudest of the years he served as the Junior High football coach, coaching, among others, Myron Radke's son Tom. What Miller is most proud of is that he "found a way to get EVERY boy (and a few girls) who went through Junior High School in those years involved in football."
"At that level," he says, "I never have - and still don't - believe it's about winning. Don't get me wrong - every loss hurts to a degree - but I think it's part of what both dad and Neil shared with me about a winning attitude , and trying to inspire people in what they are capable of no matter who they are. I think we all pick up different things from our parents. One thing for me was seeing that there are things bigger than yourself, and donating your time to others is the most noble investment of all. Dad wasn't one for words, necessarily, but I also remember him specifically saying "You should never talk about your performance in athletic endeavors. You should simply get out there and compete, and if you perform at your best, people will talk about it for you."
"Larry Hultgren likes to tell the story of how Ida Grove High School was playing a game when he was in school," said John, "and apparently Larry had been getting a lot of press. Being the star of a pretty good team would normally mean that he got it a little easier, but Larry tells how that definitely was not the case. In Larry's words, 'So we're in the locker room at half time and your dad starts giving us what for... and we had it coming! Then he starts in on me and says Hultgren! Why don't you just take off now, so you can get home earlier to read your press clippings! Well you can darn well bet we played a second half where the other team thought they were playing a whole new team!
"Larry later became Patrick's godfather, and dad's impact on him was profound enough that he donated money a couple of years ago to pay for an electronic timing system at the BC-IG track. "
By the way, John is still playing on the gridiron, too, on the offensive line for the Iowa Sharks.
Patrick Miller graduated from Aurelia High School in 1983, serving as an on-the-field leader in every sport in which he participated. His dad was his football coach during his high school years, and of that experience Patrick says, "It was during a time when I was aware his life would be cut very short. It taught me that regardless of what life throws you, it is important one understands that in all things you can find a positive, and the ability to perservere in difficult times is a quality that will take you a long way. I would like to think that a few qualities our teams possess is perseverance, and a tenacity to tackle difficult challenges. Those could be directly traced to lessons I learned as the child of a coach."
Patrick says he also remembers noting that "nothing worthwhile can be achieved without some form of sacrifice," adding "I do not think most people realize the sacrifice that successful teams, individuals and coaches endure. Success is not a given, no matter the talent level. This is true in all areas, and it is one ideal we constantly try to teach our athletes."
Pat graduated from Westmar College in 1987, and has applied the lessons he learned on the field and in the classroom well. He has served as a head girls' basketball coach for 15 years and his teams have earned 11 conference titles, with his Battle Creek-Ida Grove teams twice finishing as the State runner-up. Pat also served nine years as an assistant football coach at Sutherland, Waverly-Shell Rock and Mt. Vernon, and those teams earned six playoff spots and one state title during those years.
In addition to serving as the school's head girls' basketball coach, Pat Miller's "day job" has been serving as the High School Principal at Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School for the last several years, and he says "teaching, along with coaching, is the only career choice I ever considered. With both parents being teachers, it was something I was not only familiar with, but also a job that I both admired and respected. Many teachers from Aurelia had a very positive impact on me. I was able to see that as a teacher and a coach, you have the ability to work with people to help shape lives, and to teach lifelong lessons that enable students to achieve success long after graduation."
Gaylen and Donna Miler's daughter Amy played guard on the Aurelia Atoms' 6-on-6 basketball teams in the mid-1970s, displaying a grittiness and hustle instilled in her by her dad. Amy moved back to Aurelia from Chicago a few years ago to raise her family in the small-town atmosphere of Northwest Iowa.
Amy Miller's husband, Chicago native Bob Mikos, got a chance to get to know his father-in-law a little bit before Gaylen's death, and the old "coaching bug" apparently bit him, too. Mikos has coached young kids' wrestling and baseball programs in his adopted home town of Aurelia for several years now, was the assistant baseball coach for a summer or two at Aurelia High School, and has recently received his coaching certificate and been hired as the head baseball coach at Aurelia High School.
Randy and Deb Galvin's oldest son, Heath, graduated from BVU, and served as an assistant softball coach with his dad at Schaller-Crestland for two years while attending BV. He then served one year as the head coach ,"and did a great job of it," said his proud dad. Heath now resides in Grimes, and works as an assistant manager of The Tile Shop in Des Moines. Randy's youngest son, Cody, was a standout athlete at Schaller-Crestland, and will be a sophomore at Morningside College this fall, majoring in business. He also runs on the Mustangs' track team, and is doing some umpiring for Little League games in Schaller this summer.
The Galvins' middle son, Tim, is now 25 years old. He graduated from Schaller-Crestland High School in 2001, participating in football, basketball and track while in high school. Tim graduated from his dad's alma mater - now Buena Vista University - in 2005, and started teaching High School Marketing and Middle School computer classes in the fall of 2005 at - ironically - Aurelia. Tim has coached Jr.High boys basketball, and is currently the Head Coach of the high school girls' basketball team, as well as an assistant coach of the high school boys' basketball team, the high school boys & girls track teams, and the high school softball team.
an educator and coach really made an impression on me. My dad has
the ability to get the most out of the students in his classroom and
athletes on his teams. He always finds a way to push student-
athletes to recognize their potential and then achieve it, and that is
what I strive to be able to do everyday.
"Dad also has the ability to lighten the mood for his athletes during pressure situations, and I attempt to do the same in my own coaching style. A lot of his
Randy Galvin concludes, "I have had many highlights in my 29 years of teaching and coaching, but having your own son coaching with you (Heath), and watching another son pursuing a coaching career (Tim) - especially at your Alma Mater - has been very rewarding."
Myron and Sue Radke's son Matt had a very solid high school athletic career at Aurelia, and has been a partner in an optometry practice in Sheldon for several years. He and his wife Jody, the daughter of Jim and Pat Compton of Aurelia, frequently visit Aurelia with their children, whose grandparents are next door neighbors to each other. Myron and Sue's daughter Amy, like her parents, is a elementary school teacher, and she is getting married soon. Like Amy Miller Mikos, Amy Radke was also a starter for several seasons in the Aurelia Atoms' guard court.
The Radkes' youngest son, Tom, was a multi-sport standout during the Alta-Aurelia sharing days and then went on to earn his degree at Iowa State University in 1998. Tom also played football for the Cyclones, initially as a 'walk-on,' then earning a scholarship with his stellar play on the kickoff squad. Tom and his wife Laura and their children live in the Kansas City area, where Tom is employed as a Social Studies teacher and Head Football Coach at Kansas City-Piper High School, a Class 4-A school.
"My dad has always treated everyone with respect," said Tom, "his players, parents, administration, janitors, and office personnel," said Tom. "He told me early on to 'make friends with the office ladies and the custodians - they will get you what you need faster than anyone else,' and he was right."
Those who know Myron and have spent any time with him will appreciate these comments from his youngest son:
"One of the great things I have carried on from my dad are his great quotes," Tom said, adding that the "Kansas City papers are now getting a taste of these quotes" from him.
Though this article is about sons and their dads, all of the individuals involved wanted to salute the women who have played such a big part in their lives also.
Myron Radke says he feels he has "really been blessed" by the great support he has received from his wife Sue and his family through the years. I know, for one example, that "Susie" has put a lot of time - and love - into compiling a season scrapbook for the Aurelia senior football players each season, and I'm sure that only scratches the surface of her supportive efforts.
John and Patrick Miller give a "shout out" to their mom, Donna, too, saying "I think you could see almost all of the same traits Dad had in Mom. Especially the devotion to inspiring and challenging people - especially young people." Though Donna has retired from her teaching position at BC-IG now, she continues to be a very active volunteer at the school, and also keeps the scorebook at son Patrick's basketball games.
Randy Galvin adds, "As with most male coaches who have wives, I would not be able to do this crazy job without a very supportive and understanding wife, and Deb (a high school cheerleader for 4 years) definitely has been that for the past 30+ years. Not only was she very supportive of me, but also our three boys in their years in athletics. She did not tolerate bad tempers or bad sportsmanship of any kind, and if she thought our kids were ever 'out of line' in a contest, they were going to know it when they got home. I never even had to say a word. Our home was always open to all the kids, and many times before a football game we would have anywhere from 10 to 20 kids at our house relaxing - and eating, of course - getting ready for the big game. My boys or I would not be where we were without her great support."