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Clear Lake athletic director announces retirement

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Dale Ludwig

After being a part of Clear Lake School District for 26 years, athletic director Dale Ludwig has decided to retire this year.

After 26 years of being a part of Lions athletics and the Clear Lake School District, Athletic Director Dale Ludwig has decided it is a good time for him to step back and retire after this school year.

Ludwig started at Clear Lake schools in 1996 as a freshman and sophomore counselor and junior varsity volleyball coach. Ludwig has filled other coaching roles in the past, but he has been the high school athletic director for 19 years and assistant principal for over 10 years.

Doug Gee

Gee

"Dale (has) led by example through his work ethic, character and integrity to do what is right, even when people didn't agree with him, which I believe students saw first hand," said Superintendent Doug Gee. "I also believe students saw how much he cared about them and how he treated others with respect and understanding."

Ludwig said his decision to retire was influenced by district projects he's been involved with reaching an end, his role in the Iowa High School Athletic Directors Association concluding, and the offer of an early retirement package

"I've met a lot of really, really great people and had the opportunity to work with a lot great people because of the job that I do," said Ludwig. "When you do something for 19 years — and I know some people have worked longer in this profession — (the best part is) just the kids and the parents. That's what I'll remember."

He said retirement was a topic he discussed at length with his wife before deciding. "We are very comfortable with our decision that we made, [but] it comes with a lot of mixed feelings," said Ludwig. "At some point you know it's going to end, you just don't know when." 

Eighth-grade boys basketball coach Austin Peterson met Ludwig during his first year with the district. 

Peterson said Ludwig was always there in his corner during difficult moments, and credits Ludwig in helping him attain his coaching position.

"(Ludwig) saw some stuff in me that I thought I wouldn't be good at," said Peterson. "He just really cares about the student athletes and, really, all of the students."

"People need to be proud of their school and their community," said Ludwig. "I just want people to know that and I've been very fortunate to be part of this."

With the number of years he's dedicated to developing Clear Lake's athletics, Ludwig said the biggest change in sports he has seen is exposure given to student athletes through social media. He explained that people outside of Clear Lake have been able to see athletes play through shared video clips.

Gee said Clear Lake sees success in its athletics programs due to Ludwig making sure coaches do their job right. He added that the district was going to miss Ludwig's dedication to the community and presence at the majority of games

"Dale also has a good sense of humor; most people might have thought he was tough, but if you really got to know Dale, he really had a soft side and a huge heart for people," said Gee.

Dale Ludwig - 1996

A yearbook photo of Dale Ludwig when he started at Clear Lake School District in 1996.

"I want to make sure that I end this the right way. One of the things that has motivated me is that I never wanted to let anybody down," Ludwig said with a small smile.

"I thought this (decision to retire) would get easier. It's not. I just want people to know that I tried to do the best I could with what I had and what we were able to do."

Abby covers education and entertainment for the Globe Gazette. Follow her on Twitter at @MkayAbby. Email her at Abby.Koch@GlobeGazette.com

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