DES MOINES — Three days after leading his Perry boys basketball team to their first state tournament appearance since 1988, Bluejay head coach Ned Menke was back at Wells Fargo Arena, this time to honored as the 2016 Character Counts Coach of the Year.
Menke was honored at mid-court during halftime of the second Class 4A State Semifinal Friday. He was joined on the court by wife Meg, son Pierce, 4, and daughter Brynn, 1. He received a medal, a plaque and a banner from presenters Chuck Long of the Iowa Sports Foundation, Scott Raeker of Character Counts, IHSAA Executive Director Alan Beste and IHSAA Board of Control Chairperson Dave Herold, Superintendent of schools at Waukon.
The award comes with a $1,000 grant provided by the Robert D. and Biller Ray Center at Drake University for ongoing Character Counts initiatives at Perry schools.
“This is just really wonderful,” Menke said. “Naturally I am very honored and want to thank everyone involved who chose to single me out for this award.”
Menke said he appreciated how the IHSAA handled the presentation.
“It was really nice to get to meet Chuck Long and Scott Raeker and have the chance to spend five or more minutes with them before the ceremony,” he said. “They explained everything that was going to happen and it all went smoothly.”
The honoree said having his family be able to share in the moment made the occasion even more special.
“Coaches families have to put up with an awful lot,” he said. “There are so many nights when you are not home, whether it is a game, a practice, a scouting trip. It can be really hard on the families and I have been really fortunate that mine has been so supportive. To share this with Meg and to have the kids here really means the world to me.”
Part of the inscription on the plaque given to Menke reads “This award is not about an isolated act, but rather recognizes an uncompromising integrity and courage to do the right thing both personally and professionally, despite social pressure, personal risk or a personal desire to win.”
Aware that of the impact he can have and the influence he can wield over the young men in his charge as their head coach, Menke said he would continue to do his best to live up the standards of the award.
“I have always thought that it was easy to talk about integrity things like that, but being an example of it is more important,” he said. “I am just living the way I was brought up and how I was told and expected to act, and I hope it never changes.”
A short piece in the state tournament program highlighted Menke while explaining the award. The text follows:
“This annual award honors one coach statewide who consistently demonstrates the Six Pillars of Character — Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship while ‘Pursuing Victory with Honor’ both on and off the field of play.”
Ned Menke of Perry is the Iowa High School Athletic Association Character Counts Coach of the Year. His selection was made by an independent panel from a large number of nominations submitted by member schools.
Coach Menke has spent his entire professional career at Perry and this is his 10th year in the district. This is his eighth year as the varsity boys basketball head coach. Menke currently works as Dean of Students at the Perry Elementary School. He taught math in the middle school for nine years before assuming his current administrative position. Menke has also coached high school track and middle school football at Perry.
He grew up on a farm in Northwest Iowa outside of Calumet, Iowa and graduated from South O’Brien High School in 2001. He was very active in high school sports participating in basketball, cross country, track and baseball. Menke then attended the University of Northern Iowa and graduated in 2006. He was hired by the Perry Community School District later that summer. Menke earned his Masters Degree in Educational Leadership at Viterbo University in 2015.
He led the Perry Bluejays to a Raccoon River Conference championship and was named the RRC Coach of the Year in 2015. Menke works to lead by example and strives to respect the game of basketball by playing not only to win, but to do it the right way. He enjoys teaching his student-athletes skills that will be used throughout life. He tries to follow the example set by his parents, Dan and Pat Menke, of treating others how you would like to be treated. Ned and his wife, Meg, have a son, Pierce (4) and a daughter, Brynn (1).”