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Longtime E-Hawk Fans Earn Statewide Honors

By Staff | Apr 5, 2011

Al Trelstad, left, and Bill Ortman, right, were honored by the Iowa Football Coaches Association with Outstanding Service Awards in ceremonies in Coralvill a week ago. The two friends served as scoreboard operators for Emmetsburg E-Hawk Football for over 40 years. The two friends remain loyal E-Hawk fans of all Emmetsburg HIgh School activities. -- Dan Voigt photo

There’s something to be said about loyalty to a team. Over a period of some 40 seasons, the team of Bill Ortman and Al Trelstad set aside Friday nights during the football season, along with other dates, to man their reserved seats at Emmetsburg’s Duane Twait Field. While not exactly in the public spotlight, their Friday night’s had a very important role in E-Hawk Football operating the scoreboard off the north end zone of the field.

Those years of dedicated service and support of the E-Hawks earned Ortman and Trelstad some special recognition, as the pair were honored Friday, March 25, with the Iowa Football Coaches’ Association’s Distinguished Service Award. The honors were presented during the IFCA’s Distinguished Service Banquet at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville.

Bill and Eleanore Ortman were joined by their son Eric and daughter Paula, along with granddaughter Christa. Al Trelstad was accompanied by his grandson, Allen Guthart, granddaughter Rachel and her husband Andy Manternach from Cedar Rapids, after his wife Marge came down the flu.

A highlight of the evening for the two buddies was the opportunity to meet Coach Kirk Ferentz of the University of Iowa Hawkeye Football team during the awards banquet.

“Al Trelstad and Bill Ortman have been an important part of Emmetsburg athletics, especially E-Hawk Football,” noted Joe Carter, Emmetsburg High School Athletic Director. “To achieve a great football program, you must have and demonstrate many characteristics, some of which are great leadership, determination, intensity, loyalty and most of all, passion. We have seen these traits in both Al and Bill, especially loyalty and passion. They became the official E-Hawk football scoreboard operators in 1970 and performed above and beyond the call of duty in the press box for 40 years.”

For Ortman, 44 years as a clock and scoreboard operator began at the old football field on Tenth Street, in the old press box mounted on two poles, back in 1965. “Oh, that press box would sway in the wind, and when it rained, it blew right in on us, but boy, there were great games played at the old field,” Ortman said. “Then when I asked Al to join me, he wasn’t so sure about doing it at first, but then he agreed.”

“I’d always been active in the booster club,” Trelstad recalled, “and when Bill asked me to do it, he had to talk me into it, but I’m sure glad he did.”

As the duo settled into their roles, they moved from the old field to the new high school field in the mid 1960’s, and an enclosed press box. “That was a godsend,” Ortman chuckled, “At least we were warmer, but it would still fog up in there in the really cold weather.”

Over the 40-some years, the pair saw lots of E-Hawk teams come and go, and they admit it’s tough to pick a single, outstanding team in that time. “We saw so many outstanding kids go out there and just give everything they had every Friday night,” Ortman said. “We saw so many great coaches and assistants to go along with those kids, it’s almost like we should be giving all of them this award.”

In the course of those years, Al and Bill worked 368 E-Hawk victories, 56 losses and one tie. Ortman and Trelstad saw the E-Hawks qualify for the post-season playoffs 34 times, and worked 89 post-season playoff games. Along the way, they worked with six coaches on the sidelines, watching those coaches and young men bring home the Gold Cadillac to cap off a championship seasons numerous years.

“There really have been so many great kids come through to play, and then the cheerleaders. First they used to just yell, now they get into the gymnastics, that’s all changed. And the band, they used to just play and now they go out and do their maneuvers, that’s all changed, too,” Ortman reflected. “All of it has just been due to the dedication of the kids and the coaches and teachers.”

Over all those games, the pair would see games that were lopsided and their fair share of nail-biters. “We never messed up,” Trelstad said, and then laughed. “Once in awhile, we’d get so caught up in the game, we’d forget to stop the clock, and then you’d hear the crowd yelling “Who’s the knucklehead running the clock?” but everything always worked out.”

“We had a great group of guys to work with in the press box over the years,” Ortman said. “Leonard Johnson, Ron Seaman, Dean Newlon, they all had their turn and we all got along great.”

One thing that both men admitted was that when it was time to step back, there were no regrets.

“I had told Bill once, “If you go, I go,” Trelstad said. “So, when Bill decided it was time to step aside, it was time. You bet I enjoyed it a lot, no question about it.”

“It was a nice experience, but one thing is for sure, I’ve never regretted a minute of it.” Ortman agreed. “It always made me feel good that when a game was over, the fans were counting the days, hours and minutes until the next game. That means your community is behind your school and the athletes and that means you have a solid program.”

“That’s true,” Trelstad added. “You still see that today when the kids travel to an away game. Our fans follow these kids. You have to go early to make sure you get a good seat because of the fan following.”

Joe Carter readily agrees with the pair. “It’s said it takes a village to raise a child, and it also takes an entire community to have a great athletic program. Emmetsburg and E-Hawk Football have been so fortunate to have loyal supporters and friends like Al Trelstad and Bill Ortman that saying thank you just doesn’t seem like enough. But, we sincerely thank them for giving E-Hawk Football 40 years of loyal service. It has been greatly appreciated by the players, coaches and E-Hawk fans.”