2013-14 DFJ Male Athlete of the Year – Trevor Ullestad
WEBSTER CITY – The Jewell Golf and Country club is nearly a ghost town by 4 p.m. on a gusty and uncharacteristically cool Sunday afternoon in July.
The tee boxes are empty. The flags are all in place and the only noticeable sounds come from the wind whistling through the trees.
The weekend duffers may have thrown in the towel, but down on the practice green – all alone with his thoughts, his putter and a handful of golf balls – stands Trevor Ullestad deep in concentration. The sizable chunk of real estate is blanketed with tees stuck in the ground and the recent South Hamilton High School graduate is working through a putting drill he says will take a couple of hours to complete.
This is Ullestad’s current summer job. This is what he hopes his future job will be.
And so he practices.
Are you listening kids? It’s one thing to want to be good at a sport. It’s something altogether different to put in the time and effort – the work – to make it a reality.
“I’m working on my game everyday,” Ullestad said. “It takes a lot of time and you have to be committed to getting better. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Ullestad was already a quality golfer prior to his senior year and the same can be said for the other sports he played – football and basketball. But over a roughly nine-month span he simply went to another level.
All-district and all-state in football. All-Heart of Iowa Conference on the hardwood. And he topped it all off with the first individual boys’ state golf championship in South Hamilton history.
Years just don’t get much better for prep athletes. The laundry list of accomplishments make Ullestad a clear-cut winner in the race for the Daily Freeman-Journal Male Athlete of the Year.
“Winning this award is awesome,” he said. “There are a lot of really good athletes around here, so it’s a pretty cool thing. It’s nice to get awards for being an all-around athlete instead of just for individual sports, too.
“I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better year sports wise.”
He chuckles about it now, but there was a time, in the fall of 2012, when Ullestad almost gave up football. Nearly two years later he’s certainly glad he stuck it out.
As a defensive back, wide receiver and place kicker, Ullestad had his fingerprints all over South Hamilton’s 6-4 fall campaign in 2013, as the Hawks made it back to the Class 1A playoffs for the first time in six years.
His nine interceptions tied him for the 1A lead and cemented his status as one of the best players in the state. What followed were all-district and second-team all-state honors – accolades he certainly never expected prior to being issued his pads in August.
“Football was probably the most surprising thing,” Ullestad said. “We knew we could make the playoffs and that was the goal … I’m really going to miss playing football in the fall. It was good times.”
The Hawks’ starting point guard as a sophomore and junior, Ullestad shipped out to the wing for his final campaign and the results speak for themselves.
He averaged 13.1 points per game and canned 77 3-point baskets – tied for the second most in 2A. Along the way he hit more critical shots than he and South Hamilton head coach B.J. Terrones can remember.
“Trevor was a very coachable kid and you can tell in certain athletes that they put the team above themselves. That’s Trevor,” Terrones said. “When you say driven, sometimes that’s an understatement with Trevor.”
One moment – perhaps three seconds – signified Ullestad’s cool and confident demeanor. Locked in a tug-of-war with Fort Dodge St. Edmond in the substate final, the Hawks clung to a 51-50 lead with 45 seconds remaining in overtime. And that’s when Ullestad got the ball, wide open at the top of the key.
Most kids wouldn’t even think of taking that shot. Most kids would look for an open teammate. But not Ullestad; he seized the moment, buried the 3-pointer and the rest, as they say, is history. South Hamilton was on to the state tournament for the first time since 1991.
“I think about that shot every once in a while. It just happened so fast and I wasn’t really thinking about how much it meant, but it’s something I’ll remember for a long time,” Ullestad said.
“He didn’t hesitate one bit,” Terrones said. “That’s his shot to make. If you give him that shot 15 more times, he’s going to take it 15 more times and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it all 15 times. It’s just nice when you have a player like that who is willing to say, ‘Hey guys, I’ve got this.'”
Football and basketball were just a prelude to Ullestad’s crowning moment, and that came on May 31st when he stood in front of the large crowd at Spring Valley Golf Course in Livermore and happily accepted the title of 2A state champion.
And there wasn’t a single person in attendance surprised. Not one bit.
“I don’t know how he could have had a better senior year,” Mark Ullestad, Trevor’s dad and golf coach, said. “As a dad it was a blast. It’s a year you’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”
South Hamilton was ranked No. 1 all season, so the 2A team title – just the second boys’ state championship in school history – was as much relief as it was jubilation.
Looking back on it nearly two months later, Ullestad says it couldn’t have been scripted any better.
“It was awesome. I could see it happening before (the state meet), but for us to actually do it was amazing,” Ullestad, who will play college golf at Indian Hills, said. “When we won the state title, to be able to share that with teammates, those are the moments I’ll never forget.”
Ullestad still downplays the individual crown – his two-day total of even-par 144 gave him a five-shot edge on the field – and says anyone could have had a hot run over 36 holes.
But not anyone did. He did.
Still, when someone asks what he accomplished, he says he won’t hesitate with his answer.
“I’ll just say I’m a state champion and so will five other guys,” he said.
His dad says that’s just par for the course where his son is concerned.
“He’s not a me-guy. He’s a pretty humble dude who works for everything he gets,” Mark Ullestad said. “That’s the kind of kid you want to coach.”
Humble. Coachable. Talented.
Every coach wishes they had 20 Trevor Ullestads.