Tim Strellner was a successful college baseball coach when he was still in his 20’s and has been a successful businessman for more than three decades, making him an ideal person to have played a major role at Prospect Meadows and get the new facility up and running this spring.
He’s also committed to serving the community whenever he can, so he was happy to get involved with Prospect Meadows about eight years ago with fundraising. Over the years, his role continued to grow and he became a prominent member of the team.
“When I got more involved in Prospect Meadows,” he said, “I saw this was the project for me.”
Strellner, 59, has been serving as the Vice President of the Board of Directors and chairman of the fundraising committee. On Wednesday, June 19th he was elected Chairman of the Board and will continue to work alongside Prospect Meadows General Manager Jack Roeder as the facility continues to move forward.
Strellner has been involved with all phases of Prospect Meadows, which opened in May with eight regulation baseball fields and the Miracle Field. There are plans to build eight more fields by 2023, which will make it one of the top complexes in the Midwest.
After working on the project for eight years, Strellner was all smiles when Prospect Meadows held its Grand Opening May 23.
“Really gratifying. Really rewarding,” he said. “Almost, in some ways, you had to pinch yourself a little bit. It was like, ‘Holy Cow, look what can be done when people pull together in a community.’ It’s powerful.”
Strellner owns the Strellner Agency Group, a financial and insurance company in northeast Cedar Rapids. He’s excited about his fellow board members at Prospect Meadows following their election Wednesday.
Troy McQuillen, the Vice President for Facilities and Security at Kirkwood Community College, will serve as Vice Chairman of the Board at Prospect Meadows. Rick Freese, the owner of Freese Well Drilling, will continue to serve as secretary. Steve Hammes, the Managing Director of INTEGRUS Consulting, is the treasurer. All four men have been heavily involved with the project.
Like many of the people who have worked tirelessly on the facility, Strellner wondered at times if they would ever raise enough money to build the type of complex they all wanted. Now it’s a reality.
“All of it is nice and great and I love the economic value,” he said, “but to watch the (kids) actually out on a first-class facility like that … It’s super rewarding, super exciting as to where this thing is going to go.”
Strellner was a three-sport athlete at Benton Community High School and was named all-state in baseball. He played baseball at Muscatine Community College and Western Illinois, then became the head coach at Muscatine when he was only 24, compiling a 170-70 record in five years and a flashy 47-10 mark his final season.
“I loved what I was doing,” he said. “We had really good teams, we were sending kids all over the country to four-year schools, sending some kids into professional baseball, we’re winning a lot of games.”
But then his life headed in a new direction. Strellner was approached by Life Investors when he was coaching at Muscatine, part of the company’s effort to recruit teachers and coaches for their “twin career” program with the investment firm, which later became Transamerica. He worked for Life Investors during his last two years at Muscatine, then accepted a job as their sales director in the Quad Cities and left the college to join the business world.
“I kind of took a leap of faith that it was the way to go,” he said. “I’m glad I did. It’s worked out very well.”
It was not easy to leave baseball behind, however. There were separation pains. “I stayed away from baseball for a year or two,” he said. “I just couldn’t go to games much.”
He turned down offers to become a pitching coach at four-year schools and stayed with Life Investors for five years. He then ran a small agency in Rochester, Minn., for five years, then he and his wife, Gwen, returned to Iowa with their young family 22 years ago.
Both of their sons, Ben and Jack, played baseball at Linn-Mar High School and Coe College. Their daughter, Jamie, played softball at Linn-Mar and attended Iowa State. All three now live in the Chicago area. Strellner quickly credits his wife for her huge support during some very busy years.
Strellner helped coached his children’s baseball and softball teams, and the opportunity to work with Prospect Meadows came along when his youngest child was a sophomore in high school. He jumped in and hasn’t stopped working with the project ever since.
“I guess timing is everything in life,” he said.