By David Swartz
If you love what you do for a living, it makes life much easier.
Coach Jerry Shultz talks to his team at an early practice during the 2003 football season at Estherville Lincoln Central.
For long-time Estherville/Estherville Lincoln Central coach Jerry Shultz, doing what he loved has led to his induction into the Iowa Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame this fall.
Shultz will be inducted at halftime of the Class 3A championship game, Thursday, Nov. 21 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
Shultz has enjoyed his time coaching and gives credit to all those who helped him throughout his career.
"There are two things I want people to know. Number one, football has been very good to me and my family," he said. "Secondly, this award should be shared with many people who have helped me through my coaching career.
"When I was a senior in high school, I was captain on the football team and dating the homecoming queen. Now 46 years later, I'm married to the homecoming queen-the only difference now is that she is also the captain of our team."
After high school, Shultz was awarded a football scholarship at Westmar College.
"I was very fortunate to have great high school and college coaches who have helped me achieve a lot of goals I had set for myself," he said.
Shultz did have an outstanding college career. As a four-year starter at strong safety, he was named first team all-conference three times.
As a senior, he was first team all-district, with the district composed of all small colleges players from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota.
He was also first team all-conference, a team captain, most valuable player, set the school record for tackles in a season and was named an NCCA Division All-American.
"Like I said, football has always been good to me and it opened up a lot of doors that helped me get my teaching and coaching career started," he said.
"I am very grateful for this honor, but I want people to know that I share it with all the people who have helped me in my coaching career. I especially thank my long-time assistants Tim Milner and Chuck Fandel. They are a huge part of this award and the success we had throughout the years.
"I would also like to thank all the players and parents for their hard work and dedication. I have made many friendships through the years because of football and I am very grateful for that," he said.
Shultz started his career as linebacker coach at Wartburg College. After one year, he took an assistant job at Floyd Valley High School in Alton. The following year, he was named head coach. Within two years, his teams won back-to-back conference titles in 1980 and 1981.
"Winning that first conference title was a big thing," said Shultz. "The year before, they had only scored three or four touchdowns the whole season."
Unfortunately under the old playoff rules, those teams did not make the playoffs.
In 1980, Shultz was the youngest coach ever to be named Westmar College Alumni Coach of the Year.
He then moved on to be an assistant to the legendary Dick Null of Central Lyon. He was the defensive coordinator for some very successful Lion teams.
In 1986, he was named the head football coach at Turkey Valley High School. In three years, he led the team to two playoff berths.
He was also the head track coach at Turkey Valley and his team captured the 3A state championship in 1989.
Shultz was named 3A regional coach of the year for his efforts.
In 1989, Shultz took over the program at Estherville. The Midgets had qualified for the playoffs just once in school history as the 1987 team was runner-up.
"I was all excited and ready for practice that fall but the kids just didn't seem as excited," he said.
But after laying a foundation and getting the players in the weight room, things turned around
"If you're in it (coaching) long enough, you have some ups and downs," said Shultz.
Estherville was in Class 3A 18 of the 20 years he coached in Estherville, facing teams like Boone, Johnson, Webster City and Bishop Heelan.
Shultz guided ELC to three playoff appearances in 2003, 2006 and 2007. The 2006 and 2007 teams won 14 straight district games and back-to-back titles.
Shultz received Regional Coach of the Year honors in 2003 and 2007.
Throughout the years, Shultz said he enjoyed all the practices.
"Every year, even when we weren't doing well, the kids always played hard," Shultz said.
In 1996, Shultz was an assistant coach in the Iowa All-Star Shrine Football Game.
His final season, the fall of 2008, the Midgets gave Shultz an exciting come-from-behind victory against LeMars, 22-21, in the last game of his career.
But Shultz did get one more chance to coach. In 2009 he was selected head coach of the Shrine game and led the North squad to a victory over the South that summer.
Shultz is also a past president and Hall of Fame member of the Northwest Iowa Coaches and Officials Association.
He is the winningest coach at Estherville/ELC with 134 wins.
Over the years, Shultz has been in contact with many of the students who played for him.
He enjoys it when they come back and take time to talk with him.
"That's more important to me-those lasting relationships with the players," he said.
There may have been times when coach had to "chew out" his players.
"But for me, once it's over, it's over," he said.
Family support has been most important.
"To be a successful head coach, you need strong support from your family," he said. "I've had that all my life starting with my parents who never missed any kind of sports activity I was ever in.
"My five daughters were all involved somehow in the Friday night football games whether it was a cheerleader, stat girl or water girl," he continued. "After they graduated from high school, they still would come back from wherever they were living or going to college just to be supportive. Football has and always will be a big part of their lives.
"Most of all you need a wife who understands the time and the demands it takes to be a head coach," he said. "I'm sure over all the years of coaching it maybe was harder on Becky then it was on myself at times. We have been very fortunate at all the schools we've been at with great players, assistant coaches and fans.
"In my opinion there is no greater way to make a living than coaching and teaching young people. Football will always be a big part of my life."