These folks keep Prospect Meadows running smoothly
November 9, 2020 | Metro Sports Report
Gary Lueders and Theresa Winterhof were looking for something fun and interesting to do now that they’ve retired after long careers as educators in public schools.
Madison Kurt, a junior at Luther College, has been involved with sports most of her life and was looking for an enticing job this past summer.
They found what they were looking for at Prospect Meadows.
Gary retired as the athletic director at Clinton High School in 2015 and moved to Marion this past May to live closer to his daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. He lives about five minutes from Prospect Meadows and was intrigued by the new facility.
“I’d driven by it a few times,” he said. “I was looking for something to do. I sent an e-mail out of the blue and asked if they were looking for any volunteer help.”
Gary was quickly hired and was asked to help drive people from the front gate to the fields. “They had me driving carts,” he said. “It’s a pretty good walk for people.”
He greatly enjoyed talking to the people during those short rides. “That was one of the best parts of the job,” he said. “In education, that’s all you do is talk to people.”
Theresa Winterhof was a teacher for 34 years, including 27 years as an elementary school instructor in Center Point-Urbana. She played softball and basketball at Mount Mercy and helped the women’s basketball team reach the Final Four of the AIAW national tournament in 1980.
Theresa was “recruited” to volunteer at Prospect Meadows by a Board member’s spouse and spent part of most weekends at the complex this year.
“I was looking for something to do,” she said. “I drove the golf carts, taking people up and down. It was great.
“The kids are great,” she added. “They’re funny, because they’re kids.”
There were 20 volunteers at Prospect Meadows this year and they put in 450 documented hours, driving shuttles and preparing the facility for tournaments. The volunteers consisted of board members and their family, fundraising committee members, and members of the general public.
Madison Kurt, one of 21 seasonal employees, did just about every job you can imagine at Prospect Meadows, including field work, cleanup duties, admissions, gate work and driving the shuttles. And when she wasn’t working at Prospect Meadows, she coached a seventh grade girls softball team from Center Point-Urbana and and helped coach the CPU varsity volleyball team.
Madison’s friend, Olivia Brecht, introduced her to Prospect Meadows. Olivia’s father, Tim Brecht, works at the facility and is a big part of the operation.
“I love working there,” Madison said. “All the people from around the United States we get to meet, as well as the staff at Prospect Meadows, make it so much fun and enjoyable.”
“In the middle of the summer my younger brother also got hired to work at Prospect Meadows, so being able to work with him throughout the summer was fun and enjoyable,” she added. “My favorite duties are working in the ticket office and driving the golf carts and interacting with all the fans.”
Madison played basketball for a year at Luther and is studying elementary education, with reading and special education endorsements. She’d like to become a teacher and coach in the Cedar Rapids area after graduation.
In addition to the 21 seasonal employees and 20 volunteers, there also were two interns at Prospect Meadows this year.
“The importance of our volunteers and our seasonal employees cannot be overstated,” said Jack Roeder, the president and CEO of Prospect Meadows. “The volunteers are such quality folks that it helps our customer service immensely.
“You can’t teach the experience these people bring to the table in helping us offer the best customer service in the business. A lot of the seasonal employees are high school and college students, and to see the fun they had while helping out at Prospect Meadows is so uplifting to the rest of us.
“The exuberance they bring to the fan experience and our staff helps to make the long days short,” said Roeder. “These kids help you see the forest through the trees.”
Gary Lueders has spent most of his life in sports as a coach and athletic director, but he received a new education into high-level travel ball at Prospect Meadows.
“This was all kind of new to me,” he said. “I was amazed by the commitments these kids and parents make, with people traveling from all over the country.”
He remembers talking to one parent during their ride from the gate to a field. “He had driven out from Chicago for just one game,” Gary said. “His son was playing. That’s the thing I just marveled at.”
Gary is already looking forward to being a volunteer again in 2021.
“If they would have me back, I would love it,” he said. “Those people were so good to me.”
Theresa Winterhof plans to return next year as well. “Oh yeah,” she said quickly. “Yes I will. It was fun. The people were so nice.”