GREENFIELD — Longtime Nodaway Valley coach and medical trainer volunteer Ray Stewart has been selected by the Iowa High School Athletic Directors Association (IHSADA) to receive its “Outstanding Sports Medicine Award.”
The presentation is scheduled March 30 in Coralville.
Athletic Director Dave Huff said the public recognition is long overdue.
“What Ray does for us, especially during our contact sports, is allow our coaches to continue coaching while he evaluates the injuries,” Huff said. “He’s a certified medical technician. He’s always thinking about the kids’ safety. He’s there daily, especially during football in the fall. He gets a stipend for being the trainer for football, but he’s volunteering a lot more hours than he’s getting paid for. He travels with the team. He’s part of the unit. And it’s been that way since the days of Greenfield/B-F football under coach (Bob) Daut.”
For more than 35 years, Stewart, 66, has worked quietly behind the scenes as an emergency medical technician on the scene for Adair County athletic events.
He is also in his 45th year as a volunteer on the Fontanelle Fire Department, now one of seven EMTs working ambulance calls for Fontanelle and Summerset Township.
“Ray is always there to help somebody,” Huff said. “He’s never worried about himself, the time it takes. He’s there to help other people be safe. Besides being with us, he’s always on call for the Fontanelle Fire Department, too.”
Stewart, a retired heavy equipment operator for Adair County, graduated from Bridgewater-Fontanelle High School in 1965. While attending Southwestern Community College, Stewart became interested in emergency medicine.
He completed Emergency Medical Technician and Emergency Rescue Technician classes in 1975. In 1977 he was asked if he would look after football injuries at Bridgewater-Fontanelle, his alma mater.
He picked up more classes on athletic injuries, assisted by Iowa State University head trainer Frank Randall in getting enrolled in night classes. In 1978 Stewart became friends with two physical therapists at Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs, where he had been taking a high school athlete for rehabilitation after an ACL knee surgery. They allowed him to work with some of their patients’ rehab treatments.
Stewart served as a representative for Southwestern Community College in the 1980s on a State EMS committee, where he taught classes and visited many communities to speak about the importance of having an EMS system.
In 1982 Stewart began caring for injuries at Greenfield High School, now known as Nodaway Valley in a consolidation of B-F and Greenfield. In the mid-1990s his certification was “grandfathered” in as Athletic Trainer Certified (ATC).
“It got started in Greenfield for GBF football in 1982,” Stewart said. “My dad was always a fireman, so I got to go on some calls with him. But I got interested in the medical portion, taking care of people. Then when I got on the (Fontanelle) Fire Department, I took over the EMS situation and pushed other people to get into it. For the schools, I’d go to football practice every night, basically waiting for somebody to get hurt. I’ve always enjoyed it.”
“The biggest thing about Ray is, he always approaches things in a professional manner,” Huff said, “and if he thinks a second opinion is needed about something, he’s not of one those guys who thinks he knows it all. He’s more than willing to let someone else make an evaluation. He’s all about safety.”
Stewart is still assistant chief for the Fontanelle Fire Department, responding mostly to 50 to 60 ambulance calls a year. He was fire chief for many years.
Stewart retired from the Adair County Secondary Roads Department in 2010 after working 43 years as an equipment operator.
He is still head softball coach and middle school girls basketball coach at Nodaway Valley. For several years he assisted a close friend, Ron “Fox” Clinton, in coaching SWCC softball.
Stewart lives in Fontanelle with his wife, Sandra, of 45 years. She also volunteers as head scorekeeper for Nodaway Valley basketball and softball.
They are the parents of a daughter, Charity, and they have two granddaughters (Jessica and Sidney) busy in Nodaway Valley activities.
The state award will be presented at the IHSADA Convention at 6 p.m. March 30 at the Marriott Convention Center in Coralville.