The 2023 Ottumwa Athletics Hall of Fame class was recently announced.
The two individuals for the 2023 Induction Class are Coach Frank Huston and Zack Thomas.
Coach Huston was a head softball coach for 53 years, including 46 years as the head coach of the Ottumwa Bulldogs. He was inducted into the Iowa Girls Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1993, and was the 1990 National High School Softball Coach of the Year. He was awarded the 2013 Golden Plaque of Distinction by the IGHSAU and holds a career record of 1853-508, second most nationally. Coach Huston led the Ottumwa Bulldogs to State Championships in 1976 and 1995.
Zack Thomas is a 2004 graduate of OHS, and was an outstanding athlete. Zack holds the school record for passing yards, touchdown throws, as well as the record for pass attempts and completions. Zack passed away in 2007.
The original hall of fame was established in 1965 and denoted 68 individuals who were inducted. From that time to the year 2021 not a lot was done with the honor. In 2021, a committee was formed, and the Hall of Fame was given a second chance. The committee decided to keep the same criteria from 1965, thus retro-inducting 111 members. Those members, along with the 68 Bulldog greats from the original, can be found on the digital Athletics Hall of Fame.
Beginning this year, in correlation with the 100-year celebration of Ottumwa High School, the Hall of Fame Committee will be honoring past Bulldogs with an Induction Class and a Recognition Class every year. The Recognition Class is designed to honor those already
selected as automatic qualifiers for the Hall of Fame, 111 individuals already in the past 50+ years.
“The committee wanted to find a way to recognize the accomplishments of arguably the greatest athletes Ottumwa has seen over the last 50-plus years. We feel having two classes every year will help give recognition to those individuals as well.” Brandon Brooks, Ottumwa Schools Activities Director
In addition to the two inductions, Kevin Lewis, David Weilbrenner, Kelly Uhde Femali, Traci Fitsimones, Mike Egbert, and Jessie Biggs will enter as the 2023 Recognition Class.
This class is being recognized for the first time this year, and is marked for individuals who have accomplishments worthy of automatically being selected for the Ottumwa High School Athletics Hall of Fame. These individuals were 1st or 2nd in the State Tournament, or selected as 1st Team All State.
Nominations are being accepted for the 2024 Induction Class. Nominations will be accepted until January 1, 2024.