Koenen earns top administrator honor

By Allie Taiber

Activities Director Gary Koenen has been recognized by the Iowa High School Sports Association as Administrator of the year.

After 23 years of organizing activities, coordinating games and concerts, hiring coaches, purchasing equipment, planning for new uniforms, scheduling officials, lining up transportation and much more, Koenen continues to make a difference within Cedar Falls and its students who are constantly reminded of his hard work, dedication and pride for his job. An overwhelming job for sure, but because of his passion and love for the kids, he now has top notch recognition for the positive impact he’s brought to the school.

Once a student athlete himself, Koenen has always striven to be a part of the activities that create leaders, talent and joy in a high school experience. “I try to provide support for the students and the coaches to ensure that their programs and students will be successful. Whether it be equipment, supplies, public awareness, publicity — I’ll do anything to promote our programs,” Koenen said.

After receiving the letter in the mail informing him of the award, he was completely shocked. With no knowledge of who nominated him for such an award, it becomes all the more meaningful. “It makes it even more humbling to know that my peers think that much me.”

Being able to work with students and adults, he’s always had a tremendous support from his bosses and staff. “All of them have been so supportive to help promote the programs. I’m around such wonderful people, and they love what they’re doing too. It wouldn’t be possible without the rest of the staff,” Koenen said.

Although caught him off guard, Koenen’s coworkers thought completely different.

“My reaction to Mr. Koenen earning this award was, ‘It’s about time!’ I cannot imagine anyone being more deserving of this recognition,” fellow administrator and Assistant Principal Dana Dienes said. “Mr. Koenen has a wonderful and caring attitude, and his sense of humor makes him a fun person to work alongside. He makes coming to work both fun and rewarding. Observing and learning from his personal style of encouragement and the special way he interacts with young people has been an inspiration and model for us all to follow.”

His student-centered attitude is always present as Koenen works to provide outstanding opportunities for all students to be a meaningful part of the many activities in our school. Because of that, he’s been able to build strong relationships and connections not only at the high school, but within the community too.

“This award has given me a chance to reflect on all the students and all the teams that I’ve seen perform. Hearing from former students and coaches that I haven’t heard from in awhile means a lot,” Koenen said.

As he sat back in his office chair, he explained the importance of having a love and passion for students and their success. “I’m amazed by the talents of our kids. It makes my job very easy.”

The enjoyable ride of watching the talents of students unfold through his hard work and dedication throughout the years keeps Koenen excited for the future, “These kids are what keeps me going,” he said. “Their energy and skills never fail to blow me away.”

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