Berkey can’t pass on new challenge at Aplington-Parkersburg

Jason Berkey had strong relationships with all of the coaches at AGWSR. And some of his best friends will still reside in the community.

But an opportunity to work with another close friend at a different North Iowa Cedar League school was just too good to pass up.

Berkey, the athletic director at AGWSR, will finish out his responsibilities at the school this summer before moving to the same position at Aplington-Parkersburg in August.

Berkey replaces Aaron Thomas as AD but will be an assistant to Thomas on the Falcons’ boys’ basketball squad. Thomas stepped down from his Aplington-Parkersburg athletic director post to take over as the school’s principal.

“I absolutely love AGWSR, and I am not leaving on bad terms,” said Berkey. “The parents and community are great, but sometimes change can be good. I am looking forward to the new challenges that I will face over at A-P.”

Berkey played a key role in turning the Cougars into a Class 1A powerhouse in several sports.

The football team started 9-0 this past season before injuries derailed the run. The softball squad ended last season with a third-place trophy at the state softball tournament and Berkey led the boys’ track and field team to a third-place finish in 2013 while also putting the Cougars right back into the mix in 2014.

“I was most proud of seeing the kids succeed at AGWSR,” said Berkey, who will not coach track and field at Aplington-Parkersburg. “The school has done well athletically the past 10-12 years, while I was AD and before that. The kids are receptive to wanting to get better.”

Brad Hames served as the AGWSR athletic director for eight years prior to Berkey taking over the role five seasons ago.

The transition into the next AD at the school should be a smooth one as Hames will return to his former office and post starting in August.

“For the first couple of years, I was glad I was no longer the AD,” said Hames. “I just got burned out. But I am rejuvenated now, and I am looking forward to working with great kids and great coaches again.”

Even though Hames stepped away from his role as athletic director, he remained in his coaching posts. Hames has been a boys’ basketball assistant coach under Russ Banzhaf for 18 years and also has been the boys’ golf coach for 16 seasons.

“One of the reasons I felt good about going back to the AD position was because my two children are getting older and will be in high school soon,” said Hames. “I wanted to follow them when they were younger, but now I am going to be going to the high school events anyway so being the AD won’t be much different than that.”

Berkey will teach three periods of middle school physical education at Aplington-Parkersburg on top of his normal duties as athletic director and boys’ assistant basketball coach.

Hames is looking forward to another strong sports season at AGWSR, starting this fall with an improving football team.

“We have been very competitive the past few seasons, and I look forward to another strong football season in the fall,” said Hames. “I also think the wrestling team will be as good as it’s ever been in my 20-plus years at the school.

“Clay Meinders also has the chance to do something that not many kids can say they did. He could win a state wrestling title and a shot put championship in the same season. We have a lot of good athletes at the school.”