Just say the name Jerry Carstens, and people show up in droves.
That was the case Friday, Jan. 31, as Midland High School hosted Jerry Carstens Recognition Night, and fans turned out in huge numbers to honor the Eagle icon who passed away last Oct. 27.
Not only was Carstens inducted into the Midland Hall of Fame during a special ceremony between the girls’ and boys’ games that night, but so was Carstens’ final state qualifying girls basketball team from the 1993-94 season. The fun wasn’t over with those huge announcements either, as more than a dozen of Carstens’ former players took to the floor to play an honorary 6-of-6 game in memory of their legendary coach.
On hand to accept the Hall of Fame honor was Carstens’ wife Kathy, who was also surrounded by family during the emotional event.
Carstens was a longtime PE teacher at Midland and was hired in 1973. He currently sits ninth all-time in the state of Iowa with 685 wins against just 246 losses and took teams to the state tournament six times (1969, 1970, 1981, 1989, 1992 and 1994).
Carstens was inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame back in 2002 and coached at Midland until announcing his resignation in 2004. Carstens was also a head track coach for many years and coached baseball and football.
The 1993-94 Midland girls’ basketball team appearance at the state tournament was an historic one as it was the first year that the girls’ tournament was an all 5-of-5 event. The Eagles had the honor of playing in the first 5-on-5 game and the accomplishment is recognized with a team picture located in the athletics entrance trophy case.
That Midland team finished with a 19-5 overall record losing a first-round contest to Armstrong-Ringsted.
Carstens and his 1993-94 team are the final two entrants into the Midland Hall of Fame for this school year, but the idea for the event was first thought up by former Athletic Director Casey Hack, who now holds the same position at Solon High School.
“The Hall of Fame was something Casey had thought about doing but never got going before leaving Midland,” said current Midland Athletic Director Ryan Steines.
“Raymond (Dosland) and I have been discussing it over the last year and a half and thought the timing was right to begin inductions. With the recent passing of Coach Carstens, we wanted to do something for him during this basketball season. Since we had a chance to get his family and former players together, we thought it would be a great time to kick-off the Hall of Fame. Then inducting Coach Byers at the wrestling tournament named after him was a no-brainer. Betty Anderson was a no-brainer for us as well.”
Byers, Anderson, Carstens and the ’93-’94 team are just the beginning, as Steines and Dosland (co-AD’s) continue their work adding to Hall of Fame classes for the future.
“Right now, we are working on a nomination form that will give us information about every candidate and contact information,” Steines said. “Once we get that completed, having a Hall of Fame induction ceremony is something that will be considered every year moving forward.”
Steines and Dosland are also working on putting a committee together to review nominees each year. Nominees are not just limited to athletics, but teachers, contributors, distinguished graduates. Contributors could be people who did not graduate or work at Midland.
“The distinguished graduates we are looking for are people who have gone on to do big things after high school,” Steines said. “This could be a career they went into or starting their own business or even military experience.
“We are hoping this will help our students understand and realize what graduates of Midland have gone on to do.”