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WATERLOO —- The Waterloo Optimist Club will welcome an accomplished group into its Hall of Fame June 1.

Bobby Hansen, Dara (Kjarum) Flowers, Todd Kuntz, Terry Meier and Keith Whittemore are the 2019 inductees while the 1954 Waterloo East spring state championship high school baseball team will also be honored.

Hansen played Optimist ball for the Reds where his father Bob was one of the coaches. The Reds played in the World Series and Hansen earned all-star recognition before going on to an all-state career at Waterloo West and a college career at the University of Northern Iowa.

Hansen also served as a playground director, coach, umpire and supervisor for Waterloo Leisure Services, coached high school baseball at West and East, as well as softball at West High and is a Waterloo Softball Association Hall of Fame member.

Flowers was a standout softball pitcher for the Optimist Twins team under her father, Rod Kjarum. She went on to pitch at Waterloo West High and eventually joined the Air Force where she played club softball and rugby.

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Kuntz also grew up in the Optimist program before playing basketball and golf in high school at what was then Walnut Ridge Baptist Academy. He majored in physical education at UNI and has gone on to become a highly successful high school head coach and a widely respected baseball umpire.

Meier is a UNI graduate who has served as a coach in swimming, basketball, track and field and softball. He also took up umpiring, then spent nearly 10 years as baseball commissioner for the Waterloo Recreation Center. That led to an appointment as commissioner for the Optimist softball leagues. Meier has been an assistant principal, principal and athletic director for Waterloo Schools before retiring and joining Door Ways to College teaching strategies for ACT and SAT tests.

Whittemore played Optimist baseball for the Cubs from 1976-78 under legendary coach Jack Kuper. The Cubs won a pair of Optimist World Series, then Whittemore moved on to Waterloo West High where he played football, hockey and baseball. He earned his dental degree at the University of Iowa and has coached youth basketball and baseball.

The 1954 Waterloo East baseball team featured a number of players who grew up playing Optimist ball. Those Trojans went 17-1 with a roster consisting of Don Buck, Lloyd Willbrandt, Ed Parkes, Bud Eggleston, Mel Estrin, Bob Bird, Bill Willard, Lou Kroenecke, Jack Smith, Nick Kalianov, Ron Thompson, Jim Miller, Boyd Wolf, Lawrence Nanke and Gerry Ohrt. The head coach was Bill Waters and his assistants were Murray Wier and Dave Natvig.

The Hall of Fame induction is part of the annual Chuck Granger Memorial Pancake Breakfast that will take place at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex on June 1. Breakfast begins at 8 a.m. with the Hall of Fame inductions at 10:30 a.m. Cost is $5 per person.

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Sports Editor

Sports Editor for The Courier

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