Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hickman Coach Strodtman: Jon was Superman

‘Jon was Superman’
Hickman coach Strodtman dies after long battle.

By RUS BAER of the Tribune’s staff
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jon Strodtman watches the Hickman girls soccer team play Helias in the 2006 district final — one of Strodtman’s best victories. Tribune file photo.

Hickman senior Liz Gayer felt blessed that Kewpies Coach Jon Strodtman was able to attend her signing ceremony last Wednesday to announce her decision to attend Missouri on a soccer scholarship.

"He wasn’t going to miss it, and if it makes him happy, then I’m so glad he was here," Gayer said last week. "That’s important to me because he might not have a lot of time left."

Don Shrubshell photo
Jon Strodtman, right, made his final public appearance Wednesday to see one of his players, Liz Gayer, left, sign a letter of intent to play soccer at Missouri.

The public appearance proved to be Strodtman’s last.

Diagnosed with intestinal cancer late in 1999 and weakened further when the cancer spread to his kidneys and liver, Strodtman died early yesterday evening at home with his wife, Kay, and their four children by his side. He was 45.

"Everyone is just happy that he has finally found peace," said Kay Lindner, a close friend of Strodtman’s and Hickman’s assistant for activities. "He’s fought such a hard battle, and in the end, no one wanted to see him continue to suffer. It’s hard to lose your best friend, but, man, you also want the best for them."

Strodtman waged a long and difficult battle with the gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors he was diagnosed with soon after leading the Hickman boys to a fourth-place state finish in 1999 - his first season as head coach. His treatment involved several surgeries and flights to Houston to participate in a clinical study that involved a mixture of experimental drugs.

After another abdominal surgery in early 2006, surgeons decided there was nothing more that could be done to treat his cancer. Unable to eat solid food because of blockages in his intestines, Strodtman received his nourishment for the past two years from an intravenous drip while he slept.

"When he went on the central line for feeding, you were like, ‘Oh, this is it.’ And he goes 2½ more years," Lindner said. "Jon was Superman. He just wouldn’t stop."

A native of Colorado, Strodtman moved to Columbia in 1996 and assisted Sandy Paulsen with the Hickman girls for three years before replacing the retiring Jeff Wallace as Hickman’s head boys coach in ’99. In 2005, Strodtman added the Hickman girls to his coaching duties.
Strodtman was Hickman’s second head coach for both programs. During his tenure, Hickman’s boys won two district titles (’99 and ’01) and the girls one (’06).

His most memorable coaching performance came in the spring of ’06, when he convinced the officials to overturn what appeared to be a game-winning overtime goal by Helias in the girls district final. Strodtman argued successfully that Helias was offside when the goal was scored. The game continued, and the Kewpies eventually won on penalty kicks to advance to the postseason.

Strodtman gave up his boys coaching position after the 2006 season because it would be difficult for him to remain hydrated in the extreme August heat, but he was planning on coaching the girls this spring when practices start Feb. 25.

During Gayer’s signing, however, it appeared clear that Strodtman would not be able to coach the Kewpies for another season. Sitting in a wheelchair and covered with a purple fleece, Strodtman did not speak during the ceremony.
"Just the fact that he was there was just amazing," Lindner said. "It took a lot out him just to be there."

Visitation will be held from 5-8 p.m. Thursday at Hallsville Baptist Church. An open viewing begins at 2 p.m. Saturday in Hickman Auditorium, followed by a funeral service at 2:30 p.m.
As for Strodtman’s coaching position, Hickman Athletic Director Doug Mirts said Wallace, the former boys coach who Strodtman replaced, will coach the girls. Wallace was planning to be Strodtman’s top assistant this season.

Reach Rus Baer at (573) 815-1787 or

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Driving Directions

  • WAYNESVILLE : Take 63 South Towards Jeff City. Take US-54 W thru Osage Beach to Camdenton. Take MO Hwy 5 South to Lebanon , MO.Continue on MO Hwy 5 South to I-44 E towards Waynesville, MO. Take Exit 156, toward WAYNESVILLE/FORT LEONARD WOOD. Turn LEFT onto HIGHWAY H/I-44-BL/MO-H. Continue to follow I-44-BL.Turn RIGHT onto MO-17/W I-44-BL.1001 HISTORIC 66 W.
  • QUINCY TOURNAMENT IN QUINCY ILLINOIS: From Columbia Take 70 West to Kingdom City. Take 54 North to Mexico and then 54 east and north (54/19) to Laddonia. From Laddonia take 19 North to New London and then 61 North to Hannibal. When you get to Hannibal, you will need to take a right at the sign that says Quincy or to Illinois or to Springfield which is hwy 72 across the river. You will then pick up Highway 172 north to Quincy. In Quincy take the Broadway exit and go left.The fields we are playing on are located on State Street. The streets in Quincy that run West to East are numbered streets. The Mississippi River is to the West and the street numbers get higher the further East you go. When you enter from highway 172 the first street you will see is 48th street. Go left. At State St turn right and the park is a few blocks on the right. The Paul Dennis Complex is located on State between 36th and 48th street.
  • JEFFERSON CITY- 179 SOCCER PARK: Take 63 to Jeff City. Across the river take Hwy 50 toward Sedalia. Take the hwy 179 exit and turn right onto 179. The soccer park is about 3 miles on your left.
  • DESMET High school from CBC High school (about 3 miles): leave CBC and turn left (east) onto N Forty Dr. Turn right onto Conway Rd. Follow Conway Rd to left at S New Ballas Rd and it is about 1.2 miles to the high school at 233 N. New Ballas Rd.
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  • CAMDENTON: Hwy 54 out of Jeff City to Hwy 5 in Camdenton. Turn left (east) on to Hwy 5. Continue on Hwy 5 for 5 or 6 blocks and can see the school campus on your left (north side of road). Turn on to Dare Blvd and the stadium is a block or two behind the schools.
  • SMITHTON TOURNAMENT: I-70 west to Booneville. Exit on Hwy 5 south. From Hwy 5 take Hwy 50 west. Go to Hwy W and turn south. Follow Hwy W into Smithton. Turn east on to E. Washington St. (I think this is a continuation of Hwy W), Turn right (south) on to Myrtle Ave and the school is 550 Myrtle Ave. Games are at the school.
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