Gengler earns News Media honor from IHSAA

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Bob and Marilyn Gengler of Oyens, with their son, Matt (center), of Missouri Valley. Matt received the IHSAA News Media Award at the Class 3A High School Football State Championship at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Nov. 15.
(Photo Contributed)

CEDAR FALLS — Sports has been an integral part of Matt Gengler’s life for a long time.

The Oyens native served as the football team’s manager and statistician while at Remsen-Union and was also a member of the lone Rockets team to make the state basketball tournament in 1992.

His love of sports was augmented by picking up the local newspapers and turning directly to the sports section. Now, after nearly a quarter century of being behind the camera and the printed page, Gengler has received what he considers to be the pinnacle of recognition in the world of Iowa high school sports.

In November at the halftime of the Class 3A state football championship game at the UNI-Dome, with his parents Bob and Marilyn at his side, Gengler accepted the IHSAA News Media Award.

“Parents told me when I first took this job — my job is to write the headlines, and stay out of them. Messed up again, in a good way, I guess,” Gengler said. “Our job is behind the camera but it’s nice to be noticed for the work we do. It’s very humbling. I can sum it up in three words — overwhelmed, honored and humbled.”

After graduating from Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville with an associate’s degree in mass communications, Gengler faced a choice. He could either continue his education, which would have required another four years due to issues with credits transferring, or enter the workforce. The decision turned out to be an easy one as he took a job with the Missouri Valley Times-News.

“I was not a ‘school person’,” Gengler said. “My choices were you can go back to school and go for another four years or you can go out and try and prove yourself and get a job. To me that was a no-brainer. I have always embraced the underdog role. I was never the tallest or most athletic kid in class, but the one thing about me, you were never going to outwork me.”

The hard work came right away as Gengler started out in August of 1994 scrambling to get acquainted with his new job and surroundings just weeks prior to the start of the fall sports season.

Gengler credits his predecessor Doug Rodenburg, a former recipient of the IHSAA media award, for helping him get settled in.

“I followed in the footsteps of a guy who wrote for the Missouri Valley Times for 40 years,” Gengler said. “He took me under his wing and taught me all the secrets on how to be a small-town journalist.”

Soon, the sports editor was embedded in the communities he covered which include the schools of Missouri Valley, Logan-Magnolia, West Harrison and Woodbine. Gengler said he didn’t expect to be there as long as he has when he began, but he has embraced the southwest Iowa towns he has now had the opportunity to see new generations of kids come from.

“You get out of the job what you put into it,” Gengler said. “I’ve invested a lot of time into these communities and I’ve seen a couple generations of kids and families go through and you just become part of it. Time flies when you’re having fun and that’s what the job is all about. As long as I’m enjoying my work, that’s really all that matters.”