A MAN OF CHARACTER
Bob Howard to become the 14th winner of the Walt Fiegel Award
WEBSTER CITY — The football wins (a lot), losses (not many) and state championships (more than most) are what will eventually fill the first paragraph of Bob Howard’s coaching legacy, and rightfully so.
But the award he will receive Friday night certainly fits somewhere among the large list of his greatest achievements.
Howard, the head football coach at Webster City for the past 11 seasons, will be honored as the 14th winner of the Walt Fiegel Coaching with Character Award at halftime of the Class 4A state championship game inside the UNI-Dome.
The award was created in 2003 after the death of Fiegel, the head coach at Sioux City East for 22 seasons and a former executive director of the Iowa Football Coaches Association. According to the Walt Fiegel Foundation, the award “honors an individual who embodies the high character, integrity, concern for kids, and service to the profession that were modeled by Coach Fiegel.”
And to say Howard is humbled to receive such a high honor would be an understatement.
“It’s a very big honor and it’s shared by all of the kids that ever played for me because I never played a down,” Howard said. “Certainly I love to win, but to me the fun part is the offseason stuff like we’re doing now 10 months before the next season begins. When you talk about the commitment and dedication and discipline and teamwork, that’s all the stuff we’ve been spitting out for 41 years.”
Past winners of the Walt Fiegel Award reads like a Who’s Who of the state’s legends; names like the late Ed Thomas of Aplington-Parkersburg, Curt Bladt of Humboldt, Tom Stone of Pekin, Ken Winkler of West Marshall and Jerry Pezzetti of Ankney Centennial.
“Being mentioned with the guys I either grew up idolizing or had as peers, that’s a big deal,” Howard said.
Howard, a member of the Iowa Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame since 1995, has 41 seasons as a head football coach under his belt. He currently ranks ninth all-time in the state of Iowa with 330 victories, has a .776 career winning percentage and owns three state championship rings from his time at the helm of the Sigourney-Keota program.
Howard has directed WCHS to a 79-38 record, two district championships, 10 consecutive playoff appearances and the program’s only trip to the 3A state final in 2016.
This season, WCHS went 8-2 and finished second in 3A District 2. The Lynx were knocked out of the playoffs by three-time defending state champion Pella, 27-7, in the opening round. The Dutch will play for a fourth consecutive crown this evening.
All of Howard’s football accolades are well known, but his loaded resume also includes 27 years as a head boys’ track and field coach, 27 years as a head girls’ or boys’ basketball coach, and 23 years as a head coach on either the baseball or softball diamonds.
During one five-year stretch in the late 1980s and early 90s at Sigourney, he was the head coach of football, boys’ basketball, boys’ track and baseball all at the same time.
Prior to receiving the Walt Fiegel Award Friday night, Howard will walk onto the turf inside the dome with one of his former players Derek Greiner, the leader of Sigourney-Keota’s 2001 2A state championship team. Greiner will be induced into the players Hall of Fame.
“That’s the cherry on top of things,” Howard said. “(Greiner) asked me to go out with him and that’s the kind of thing that accentuates the purpose of the Walt Fiegel Award. It’s the relationship with somebody that played for me 16 years ago and I’m lucky that I’ve got that with hundreds of kids.”