Emotional tribute

Dutch Huseman tried his best to make a late wish come true.

His grandson kept a promise for him instead.

Andrew Huseman captured the Travis Habhab Lakeside Amateur championship on Sunday, almost two months to the day after his grandfather’s death at the age of 92.

The Hall of Fame coach and athletic director – arguably the most influential figure in the history of Fort Dodge Senior High athletics and a standout golfer himself – had plans to see Andrew on the course again this spring. And while the moment never physically materialized the way Dutch and his grandson had hoped, the Arkansas State junior-to-be came up with the next best way to honor their relationship at Lakeside Golf Course.

He won emphatically.

”I remember sitting down with him at my uncle’s house over Thanksgiving break,” Andrew said. ”He hadn’t been feeling all that well even back (in late fall), but he said, ‘I want to see you play one more time.’ I was thinking then – and have been thinking ever since – that I really wanted to win both the Lakeside Am and Fort Dodge Am for him.

”I wish he’d been standing there as I walked up the 18th fairway (on Sunday). Even though I knew that wasn’t going to happen, I still wanted to do this in his honor. He always set such an amazing example for me and so many others.”

Huseman carded an eight-under par 100 in the 27-hole format to prevail by a resounding seven strokes. He said he was able to keep his mind from reaching a sentimental state until the tee box at the par-five 18th hole.

”I really didn’t know where I stood or how many shots I led by at that point; I was trying to stay focused and in the moment,” said Huseman, who also won the 2013 Lakeside Am. ”Then we got to 18, and I really started thinking about grandpa. It got pretty emotional for me (after the final putt).

”It was great to have family watching and my dad (Bill, a local chiropractor) helping me out (during the championship nine). We didn’t say much to each other after the round (about Dutch), but we didn’t have to. I know we were thinking the same thing.”

Huseman graduated from Ankeny Centennial in 2013, but given his family’s long and storied history in Fort Dodge, ”it’s always been like a second home to me.”

”I lived here for the first five years of my life, and grandpa always used to take me out to the Country Club,” Huseman said. ”I’ve always loved the course because of that, and Fort Dodge is a special place for me. It just makes me think of my grandparents.”

Because of his affinity for the FDCC, Huseman would like to complete his personal 2016 quest in less than three weeks by winning the FD Am as well.

”I don’t want to get too worked up about it, but yes, that’s my main goal (for the summer),” Huseman said. ”We’ll see what happens. I have to get used to the idea of being there specifically without (Dutch), which isn’t going to be easy. But it’s something I’d like to do for him.”

THE PLACE TO BE: Fort Dodge Senior High will host its third annual Hall of Fame banquet this Thursday night inside the Cardiff Center at Fort Frenzy.

Six former Dodgers will be honored, including 2012 Olympian Lisa (Koll) Uhl and Hall of Fame football and track coach Sam Moser. Jim Sanford, Billy Goodman and Jordan Crosby will also be enshrined, and recent Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Dave Ewing returns as a guest of the 2016 class.

For nearly 50 years, FDSH held a more casual ceremony to spotlight their freshly-minted Hall of Famers, consisting of an announcement at a football game and an informal get-together afterward.

The modern-day event – which includes a social hour, a dinner and a program – is a much more appropriate way to recognize the finest student-athletes ever to wear Dodger uniforms. It brings family and friends together for a night of nostalgic bliss, but also, pays dutiful homage to FDSH’s time-tested traditions and close-knit community.

If you are able to attend, please consider doing so. The formal Hall of Fame ceremony is a new routine worth rallying around every June.

500 CLUB: Fort Dodge’s Andi Adams won the 500th game of her coaching career nearly two years ago during the Dodgers’ home softball invitational.

Last Friday, Adams became just the second coach in school history – regardless of sport – to earn 500 victories at FDSH alone.

Adams began this week with a 500-220 record in the dugout with the Dodgers over the course of 15-plus seasons. Only Hall of Fame baseball coach Ed McNeil – at 539-285 – has more wins than Adams in red and black at this point.

Adams’ teams won at least 65 percent of their games in each of her first 10 seasons at the helm. She’s had only one losing campaign – in 2011 – and that team rallied to qualify for the state tournament (the sixth of seven FDSH softball squads to reach state since 2001). Most recently, the Dodgers are 70-30 overall in the last two-plus years combined.

Adams has enjoyed a steady influx of talent, but not necessarily elite talent. And she’s weathered the storm in the ever-changing CIML, which has grown in size and stature almost exponentially during her tenure. With 500 wins at Fort Dodge in the books, now is a perfect time to reflect on the Dodgers’ remarkable consistency in softball – and pay respect to the driving force behind it all.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at sports@messengernews.net