Job Well Dunn: A Final Farewell to Longtime Newman Catholic Softball HC Tom Dunn
(ABC 6 News) — The legendary career of Tom Dunn came to an end following the Newman Catholic Knights’ loss to the St. Ansgar in the Iowa HS softball playoffs. He stepped down after 40 seasons.
“As I’ve gotten older, my body doesn’t like this as much, my knees and shoulders hurt after pitching, batting practice, and stuff,” Dunn said. “It’s time to bring in some new blood and let somebody else have some fun.”
In 1984, Dunn took over as Newman Catholic’s head softball coach, back when the Knights played their games at North Iowa Area Community College. In Dunn’s second season as head coach, sponsors decided the Knights needed their own turf.
“Here I thought I’d be here one or maybe two years and that would be it and I’d move on,” Dunn said. “And then it just kind of grew on me and I continued to keep coming back.”
“He’s somebody you can go to and talk to and not feel intimidated about something that you might be struggling with whether it’s on the field or at home or whatever,” current Knights center fielder Liz Kruckenberg said. “He’s always just been very approachable.”
Dunn won six Coach of the Year awards, made the state tournament four times, and impacted countless lives during his four-decade-long tenure, and many of his former players, and colleagues gathered Saturday in Mason City to wish him well off to Omaha, where he and his family will move.
“When I was just starting to coach, he was still coaching at NIACC and Newman,” Mary Jo Vrba, a Newman Catholic player from 1990 to 1994 and former college head coach said. “Being a college coach is totally different than being a high school coach from the recruiting standpoint. So, It was really nice to be able to reach out to him and ask questions and learn about the offseason.”
Vrba was an assistant for Dunn at Newman and NIACC. She along with many others had him as a teacher on and off the field.
“He’s really taught us and drilled it into our heads that we just got to let it go and flush it is what we call it,” Kruckenberg said. “Do what we can with the circumstances we are given.”
“He’s been a guy that’s been a part of my life for a number of years, he was my teacher in high school,” current Newman Catholic baseball head coach Alex Bohl said. “You probably ask him a question, he’s probably dealt with a situation like that and he’s got a solution for you.”
As Dunn heads off into retirement, he received one last surprise. The field was named after him, proving that no matter where he goes, he will be a Knight for life.
“I’ve loved every minute and you know, I also joke that it took me 60 years, but I finally graduated from high school.”