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Britt native supports West Hancock sports from afar with books, podcast

Britt native supports West Hancock sports from afar with books, podcast

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A former West Hancock athlete is giving back to the Britt community and the local school in a way that enables many others to do the same.

The Dan Krull podcast that began earlier this year is posted on YouTube, the “I Grew Up in Britt, Iowa” Facebook page, and Krull’s Facebook and Twitter pages about every 2-3 weeks.

It is about West Hancock sports with a focus on storied traditions, successes, history and memories. While it can stray to larger issues, West Hancock sports history is the drawing point for an ever-increasing following wherever those with local ties may be.

“It’s such a special place,” the 2005 West Hancock High School graduate said. “I always want the focus to be on guests, the Bob and Linda Sanger Legacy Fund, West Hancock and Britt.”

The new venture originates from Krull's Indianola home where he and his wife, Julie, are raising their twin 6-year-old fraternal twin boys, Quinten and Kaden. The parents are both elementary school teachers at Interstate-35 School District. Dan teaches fourth grade and Julie first grade. He has been teaching and coaching for 12 years, previously with Norwalk, Nodaway Valley and Southeast Warren.

Krull's Britt and West Hancock ties remained strong despite moving to Buffalo Center with his parents prior to his senior year in 2004. He open enrolled to continue attending West Hancock High School. Natives of Buffalo Center, Mark and Shelda Krull moved to Britt to own and operate Mark’s Pizza (now Titanium Lunchbox) between 1984 and 2002. 

“I was going to keep playing for Bob Sanger my senior year,” the Eagles’ former offensive and defensive all-district tackle said. “That was a big deal to me and a real honor.”

He continued with his high school ties when transferring to Central College in Pella for three years after a year of studies at NIACC. He became a student coach for the Central College Dutch football team alongside assistant coaches Jeff and Kevin Sanger of Britt and Don De Waard of Kanawha. Six former Eagles were also players on that Dutch team on what became a long history of Britt football connections there, with all of the Sanger brothers going to Central.

The podcast is a natural progression of a record book that Krull compiled and wrote during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It details 52 years of Sanger football in Britt, dating back to 1968.

“I spent all of last year, up nights, putting that record book together,” Krull said. “It took me thousands of hours. COVID actually helped. School was shut down and the work situation from home was different than normal.”

The books cost a minimum of about $10 apiece to print, so Krull asked for donations from Britt sports enthusiasts and Britt area businesses, organizations, and individuals. The plan was to fund the book project, with all excess going to the Sanger Legacy Fund. Krull said $10,500 for the legacy fund, above his book costs, came from area supporters.

“Britt is an extremely special place and people at West Hancock are very dedicated to West Hancock,” said Krull, who serves on the Sanger Legacy Fund. “There are four other schools whose games are live-streamed by KIOW radio (Forest City) and sometimes West Hancock has 4-5 times more viewers than Forest City, North Iowa, Lake Mills, and Garner combined. There have been viewers in Australia, Europe and different military locations. It’s a big deal.”

Krull said the passing of coach Sanger and longtime former wrestling coach Al De Leon precipitated the start of the podcast.

“They are not here to tell all the stories anymore, so what better way to keep the history alive than a podcast,” Krull said. “In mid-January, I asked Kevin Sanger to be my first guest.”

He estimated that the podcast has brought in about $3,000 for the Sanger Legacy Fund already, but he’s just getting started. The Sanger interview has more than 600 views to date with about 4,000 views for all 11 podcasts to date on YouTube. Guests are booked for episodes 12-26 with 50 more guests planned after that.

He said the podcast is not high-cost nor does he edit episodes. He conducts interviews via Zoom, films and records video, downloads to his computer and posts usually around midnight on the nights he does it. He said it is encouraging that by 8 a.m. the next morning, he will already have 40-70 views.

“It’s neat and funds from the podcast go to the legacy fund,” Krull said. “People love reminiscing about the good old days and it keeps the legacy alive.”

While sponsors were sparse initially, a large area business chain has since signed on as a long term sponsor with many other businesses and individuals now also sponsoring episodes. Krull said word-of-mouth really helped the podcast grow.

“I had no broadcasting experience, absolutely none, but I prep myself and do all the research,” Krull said. “I always have notes and talking points written down, because I want it to be as professional as possible. I thought at first it would be more overwhelming.”

Krull reported people often contact him after a podcast airs, expressing gratitude because it maintains something special in their lives.

“This is not for my sake,” Krull said. “There is so much hometown pride in Britt and this helps promote the school. As many as 4,000 to 5,000 people may watch a West Hancock High School football game on Friday night. I do it for the legacy fund, because I love the Sangers, I love my school, and we have such good sports programs that we all love so much.”

Krull is now simultaneously working on a record book with the whole history of the Britt and West Hancock High School football program, dating back to 1899. He hopes to have it available to the public within two years. It requires endless hours of research, investigation, and compilation from old stats and newspaper articles.

“I will sell it again to raise money for the legacy fund, the Sanger-era book was 170 pages,” Krull said. “This will be a monster of a book. It is already more than 260 pages.”

Krull said he typically starts his podcast with a prepared introduction, sponsors, updates on West Hancock sports, and updates on larger school/community project(s) before promoting the legacy fund and introducing guests who are usually Britt/West Hancock athletes and coaches spanning many years.

“I touch base with them in advance and let them talk about whatever they want to talk about, Krull said. “We always end every podcast with “Go Eagles!”

He recently feared he may have signed son of Coach De Leon, John De Leon, up for his podcast too soon (about six months) after his father’s December 2020 death.

“John got emotional a couple of times during the episode," Krull said. “I started thinking I should have waited longer, but he said afterward that it help him work through some things and it was good.”

He also credited coaches Kevin Wilson and Jay Hiscocks, who broadcast West Hancock football games via KIOW, for their dedication and professionalism. It was their want of records and history that spurred Krull’s first book and now second book and podcast.

“Those two do a ton of work to background themselves and get scouting reports on the opposition,” Krull said. “I help them with the historical part. Sitting on the couch in Indianola with spreadsheets and the game on my smart TV in Indianola, I’ll text and message them historical context. It is fun and the highlight of my week after a long week of teaching. They do a great job broadcasting.”

As for Krull’s growing podcast, other guests have included Steve Everett, Denny Brumm, Bob Steenlage, Mark and Jim Timmerman, Rick Sanger, Don De Waard, the 1973 football team (Rick Kline, James Diemer, Robert Sweers, Ron Meyer), and the 1986 girls golf team (Amy Miller Pas, Sandy Carter Fisher, Tammy Stieb, Mona Bauer, Lisa Wellik Utley, Jolynn Mohan).

Krull said an upcoming guest will be 1995 West Hancock graduate Curt Kopacek of Georgia, who has donated a corn hole/bags set. It has one board featuring coach Sanger with football and another board with track accolades for a raffle with winner to be drawn in an August podcast. All funds will go to the Sanger Legacy Fund.

Krull urges Eagle faithful to go to sangerstrong.com to donate to the Sanger Legacy Fund, which exists to support the communities of Britt and Kanawha and the West Hancock activities they treasure.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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