Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the induction of longtime SWCC coach and athletic director Ron “Fox” Clinton into the Southwestern Athletics Hall of Fame.
The first induction of a member into the Southwestern Community College Athletics Hall of Fame had to be Ron “Fox” Clinton, athletic director Bill Krejci said.
There may be more than one person inducted in future years, Krejci noted, but Saturday’s ceremony prior to the SWCC vs. Iowa Central men’s basketball game was all about the “Fox.” And it was designed that way.
“First of all, it’s long overdue for developing a Southwestern Hall of Fame,” Krejci said, before serving as master of ceremonies for Clinton’s induction Saturday in front of a crowd of more than 500.
“I had been thinking about this the past couple of years, and I finally put the criteria and everything together,” Krejci said. “To kick it off, there’s no better Hall of Fame member than Ron “Fox” Clinton. You have to be out five years, be an outstanding athlete, coach, contributor or administrator, and we’ll look at their body of work at Southwestern. Fox’s body of work is 3.5 bodies of work!”
Clinton and his wife of 54 years, Ruth, were escorted to center court by two of his longtime colleagues — retired volleyball coach Rita Schroeder, now living in North Carolina; and retired SWCC administrator Paul Somers. Ron and Ruth are the parents of two daughters, Carol and Debra, and they have nine grandchildren.
Krejci presented Clinton a plaque and said a “bust plaque” of Clinton will appear on the wall of the Student Center’s ground floor near existing photos of past SWCC All-Americans.
Public address announcer Wade Sick recited some of the highlights of Clinton’s 45 years as a member of the Southwestern Community College staff, known as Creston Junior College until 1966.
Clinton was men’s basketball coach for 17 years, baseball coach for 10 years, women’s basketball coach for 10 years, softball coach for 21 years, golf coach for four years and even served as cheerleading sponsor. He coached more than 1,800 athletic events at Southwestern, and was also on the health and physical education faculty as well as athletic director for several years.
“He has definitely earned the title of ‘Master Coach.’ Mr. Clinton was honored by his peers by being voted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Iowa Officials Hall of Fame in 1986,” Sick noted.
Clinton, rarely at a loss for words, seemed in awe of the occasion as he was handed the microphone.
“Wow,” he said, elongating the word, letting it hang as he scanned the admiring crowd. “Thanks for coming. This is a terrific event. I want to thank coach Krejci. He sprung this on me not too long ago. I do want to thank Ruth for putting up with me for a long time. (Roar of applause followed.) I also want to thank Rita and Paul for serving as our escorts.
“They’ve always been there when we needed them,” Clinton continued. “A lot of great memories, and a lot of them had nothing to do with winning and losing ballgames. Thank you very much, and enjoy your day.”
Clinton was also the guest of honor at a postgame reception at the Student Center, where he had more time to share stories.
“It’s so great to have the chance to meet up with old friends,” Clinton said, surrounded much of the day by former players and coaching colleagues. “I don’t think I’ve coached a men’s game since 1982 or something, so it’s fun to see some of those people here today.”
A graduate of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson High School, where he pitched on a state championship baseball team, Clinton came to Creston as a seventh-grade science teacher and middle school coach.
It didn’t take long for Clinton to make a rapid rise to coach of the Creston Junior College Golden Bears, and become a faculty member of the college. Early in his coaching career he earned the nickname, “Fox.”
Tuesday:The story of how Ron Clinton arrived in Creston, began a legendary career at the local community college and served as a longtime sports official as he and Ruth made Creston their lifelong home.