Richard Strouse Field

Richard Strouse Field was named after teacher and coach Richard Strouse who was at Ballard from 1973-1998.

The following "thoughts" were penned by a former student of Richard Strouse.  The author requested that his name not be used.  He noted that his could have been written by any one of a thousand young men Rich worked with during his career.

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who are alive and those who live.  Not everyone who is alive has "really lived."  Those that truly live by the very nature of their lives inspire and challenge the rest of us to grow and become better than we are.  No one I have ever met was more alive that Richard Strouse.

No one I have met lived better.

Rich's success as a high school football and track coach are widely known, but his achievements went deeper that the wins and loses.  The first line of Rich's resume must have read:

Husband, Father, Teacher, Coach, Mentor - Ballard Community Schools, Huxley, Iowa 1973-Present

Classes: Integrity, Attitude, Adjustment, Life Skills, Living Life to the Fullest

Every day of his life, Rich Strouse taught us how to live our lives.  Live with honor.  Live with integrity.  Respect others.  Attitude will make THE difference in your life.  Enjoy simplicity.  Make more of what life "gives" you than anyone thought possible.  If you live life to the fullest, you will have few regrets. 

As a child, Rich contracted polio.  Only by riding for hours alone on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance was he able to be treated.  His parents could not afford to go with him.  He was young and alone, stricken with a crippling disease and enduring frightening, sometimes painful, procedures.  The disease struck him with a severe limp that would last his lifetime, but Rich went on to play high school and college football.  He always told us, "If I can go on to play college football, there is no reason that any one of you on this field cannot be great if you want it and believe in yourself.  You can do anything you set your mind to."  He once said he believed that he was "given" polio for a reason: to make him strong for the rest of his life.

When I recently went to see my former football and track coach, I was uneasy.  I knew that he had cancer and would most likely not recover from it.  I was unsure of how to approach him or what to say.  Coach Stouse said two things to that I will never forget.

"I really hate to leave a good place, but if it means going to a better place, I'm ready to find out what's there.  One of the greatest questions people have had for centuries is, 'What is in the afterlife?' and now I'm going to know."

Then he said something I later saw quoted in the newspaper.

"People that are sad for me have got to understand that I've beaten the cancer.  It may control my body but it doesn't control my mind, my heart, or my soul.  I've beaten the cancer."

In one moment, he taught me to face death that same way he taught me to face life.  Live every moment right up to the end.  Every minute is a gift to be cherished and when it is gone there is something even better to look forward to.  Embrace what life "gives" you.

Coach Strouse knew how to wring every drop of essence out of life.  He got in the nooks and crannies, the corners, the cellar, and opened all the trunks in the attic.  No part of his life was left untouched.  He got it all.  Rich lived every day of his life like there might not be another.  Finally on Dec. 2, 1999, there wan't another day to be had.

Today, I am sad.  Many would think I'm sad for my coach.  He was so young and alive, how could this possibley be fair and shouldn't we feel sorry for him?  No.  I am sad for Rich.  He accomplished everything he possibly could in the time he was given.  I believe he had few regrets.  I am sad for "us".  Those of us who knew Richard Strouse know how much harder we will have to work to keep the kind of attitude and enthusiasm alive that he spread to everyone he came in contact with.  Without him somewhere in the world, the sun seems to burn less brightly in the sky today; but I know he's looking down on us and saying, "I'm gone now, and those of you who are still there have to pass on what I tried to teach you.  Are you going to pick up your part of the slack or not?"

Parents, if you don't believe that you have an immense amount of influence on your children, you are wrong.  Teachers, if you believe that children and teens will do as they please and you have no infuence, you are wrong.  Coaches, if you don't think you can affect change in the lives of those you work with, you're wrong.  One person CAN make a difference in the lives of the people they touch.

Rich Strouse proved that every day of his life.