The city of Montezuma has always had a large presence in my life. I have never lived there, however, it feels like a second home. It’s where my mom grew up; and my grandma, uncles, cousins and more still live there.
Last year, the Montezuma Community School District started an Athletic Hall of Fame to honor athletes and coaches who have had a positive impact on the school’s history. My grandfather was inducted with the members of his 1948 football team, who went 8-0 that season, and won by an average of 46 points per game. My grandma stood in his place to receive his recognition.
Also that year, my mom’s state champion basketball teams from 1969 and 1970 were inducted into the hall of fame. Both teams were undefeated 31-0 and 30-0, respectively. I have actually watched the championship games on YouTube and saw 6-on-6 basketball in action. My mom attended the ceremony to stand with her former teammates.
For one reason or another, I was unable to attend last year’s ceremony. It was new, and I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect. Mom was excited to tell me all about it after it concluded. I could tell she was a proud Montezuma Bravette.
When the 2017 hall of fame class was announced, it included more family members. My uncle, Mike Mitchell, and his sister, Joellen Mitchell, were inducted for their accomplishments. Uncle Mitch was a gifted athlete. There’s just no other way to describe it. He was already inducted to the William Penn Hall of Fame. He played nose guard for the Statesmen, earning Iowa Conference MVP in 1976. He was All-American his senior year and signed with the Redskins following graduation. As a Montezuma Brave, he was a three-sport letterwinner. He was known for his toughness on the gridiron, but also left a mark playing basketball and running track. He set the 110 high hurdle record of 15.1, which stood for 33 years.
His sister, Jo, had her own list of accomplishments in track and softball. As a thrower myself, I was eager to hear about Jo’s success at the state meet. She threw a then record of 44 feet 6 inches for a 1975 state shot put title. The next closest throw was 29 feet. That’s how good she was. It was clear both Mitchell’s left their mark on Montezuma history.
The class of 2017 included another of my mom’s basketball teams — the 1971 state tournament team. They were 28-1. Even with that one loss, they were still very deserving of their place in the hall of fame. You see, that one loss was in the quarter finals of the state tournament. Mediapolis edged the Bravettes 104-103 in double overtime to win. The loss ended an 89 game winning streak, which began in the ‘69 season. Every time they took the court that season the pressure of maintaining the streak and not losing went with them. Even though the loss must have hurt, no one hung their heads in defeat. All of the Montezuma athletes came out of the locker room, heads high, to a standing ovation by the Veterans Memorial Arena crowd.
I wasn’t missing this year’s ceremony. Most have heard the phrase “proud mom moment.” It is usually assigned when a child does something well, either as a toddler taking his or her first steps or a young adult graduating college with honors. Things that would make any mom proud. I’d like to amend that saying for a bit. I had a “proud of mom” moment last week at the hall of fame ceremony. I was filled with so much pride as I saw my mom with her former teammates as they read all they accomplished together. It wasn’t the first time I’d been proud of mom, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Congratulations to all of the Montezuma Hall of Fame inductees. It was an honor to hear about what you did and see you recognized for it still.
Contact Pam Rodgers