March 25, 2012, was Tyler Sash Day.
Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt made the declaration Sunday afternoon at a ceremony at the William Penn University Penn Activities Center.
Many Oskaloosa residents packed the PAC to honor Sash and his achievements as an Oskaloosa Indian, Iowa Hawkeye and New York Giant. The ceremony celebrated not only Sash’s accomplishments but also highlighted the community’s support for athletics and the building of character in young athletes.
Krutzfeldt said the ceremony was made possible from a Tweet he received from Sash. In jest, Sash said that he had received a key to New York City, but not one to Oskaloosa.
So, the mayor decided to get the ball rolling. Krutzfeldt said a key to the city was made at the Clow foundry and the event was organized.
“I’m blessed to be where I am today,” Sash told the audience after receiving the key.
Sash thanked the community for its support all through his athletic career.
Sash said he’s still processing everything that has happened in the past year.
“Not everything is as it seems,” Sash said. There’s a million tiny efforts that goes into every thing that people do not see when they watch a game on TV, he added.
Sash said that leaving the Iowa Hawkeyes a year early to pursue a career in the National Football League was one of the hardest decisions he’s made in his life.
“Coach Ferentz said I would have been a team captain. Who doesn’t want to be a team captain?” he said.
However, after a lot of prayer and talking to his family, Sash made the decision to leave for the NFL.
Sash thanked everyone for coming to the event.
“I enjoy giving back to the community,” he said. “Thanks for the key. ... I’ll try to give back to the community as much as I can.”
Sash’s success did not happen in a vacuum — the Oskaloosa community has put a lot of effort into building sports facilities and incubating a sense of duty and good character into young student athletes. Community leaders also praised the work of many people who made it possible for athletes to enjoy success.
Musco President Joe Crookham said Sash follows a long tradition of leadership by many people in the community.
Crookham said the current Lacey Recreation Complex owes its heritage to two Oskaloosa Police officers who wanted to create a park for local youth to play sports in the late 1960s. They began a softball program for girls at Powell Park. That park has grown into the current Lacey Complex.
Crookham also talked about his experiences working with Charlie Kentfield on the Babe Ruth Baseball Complex that is now bears Kentfield’s name at the Lacey Complex.
Mike Sterner coached Sash in Middle School football as defensive coordinator and position coach and said three things led to Sash’s success on the gridiron. Sash set goals, had a passion for what he did and he grew as an athlete and person through hard work.
“Tyler Sash doesn’t have a monopoly on these traits,” Sterner said. Sterner then recognized various middle school youth teams for their efforts.
Oskaloosa Superintendent Russ Reiter said the goal of the school district is to give students the skills — academic and athletic — to learn how to overcome difficulties in life. Reiter recognized high school students who participate in extra-curricular activities.
William Penn Athletics Director Greg Hafner said coaching is much more than the win-loss record. Coaches help athletes prepare for the next phase of their lives. Hafner praised the William Penn athletes who participate in community programs such as Clean & Green, bell ringing for the Salvation Army and reading to elementary students.
Both Reiter and Hafner praised the effort that community leaders at the Mahaska Community Recreation Foundation, Musco Lighting and the Oskaloosa School District and William Penn University for working together to develop the Lacey Complex.
Krutzfeldt said the Oskaloosa community creates a special opportunity for youth through its support of facilities such as the Lacey Recreation Complex and the new Community Stadium.
Looking back, Krutzfeldt said that Sash did not do it alone — he thanked the community for its support of youth athletic programs.
Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at email@example.com