Roger Boughton: Dan Ball is a man of the athletic fields

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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By Roger Boughton

Unsung heroes are those who make a real difference in the shadows of the community.  They are those “special” heroes who make the non-profits hum, the charities flourish and the small businesses prosper.  You never read about them in the local newspaper or see them on television, but you benefit from their dedication to their work and their ability to make their contribution to the community and their neighbors lives a little better.

Today I share with you the story of a very special person by the name of Dan Ball.   He is native born in  Austin from a family of nine brothers and sisters. You will find him quite often out at the ball diamonds at the college or in the winter at the dome at the Wescott Athletic Complex.  Dan is a hometown guy.

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His wife’s name is Debra and they have three children. In today’s world, families are often split apart by miles with the senior members in Austin and family members living out of state.  Dan’s children are not that far afield.  One member of the family lives in Brainerd, one in Mankato and one in  La Crescent, Minnesota.

Dan has always been interested in sports, having played high school football and basketball at Austin High School and lettering in both sports.  Following graduation, Dan enrolled at Austin Community College, where he participated in both football and basketball.

Upon graduating from college, he continued his interest in sports and became over a period of 20 years both a Packer varsity football and basketball coach.  His love of sports led him to become an Austin Packer softball coach and later coach at Austin Community College the women’s softball.  Their success at Austin Community College took them to the National Softball Tournament in St. Louis in 1973, where they came in fourth in the nation for two- year colleges.

Approximately 18 years ago he became a member of the Westcott Improvement Committee with the goal of enhancing the athletic fields of the Austin Public School System. With his leadership, the baseball complex at the college was obtained  on which four baseball fields were created, along with a club house and lights for evening games. Also created at the time was an enhancement of the Wescott athletic complex, an all-weather track, stands and an athletic field.

Dan’s interest in sports allowed him to be a football referee for more than 20 years. Scott Knobel, a colleague, said of Dan that no one knows how important Dan Ball is to the community of Austin and its athletic programs. He truly is responsible, as a member of the Wescott Improvement Committee, for ensuring that all of the athletic fields were either enhanced or improved in quality and safety.  This includes a sprinkler system at the Wescott Athletic Complex in addition to the track, stands and lights.  If you’re interested in sports, you know that Dan Ball has put his entire heart into making Austin Packer sports first class.

Dan’s career as a bread winner has taken him from being a paraprofessional for the Austin Public School System to a custodian for the school district and ending his career for the school district as the manager of the Dome that is in place at the Wescott Packer Athletic Complex during the winter months.  Dan also provided leadership to the Austin Park and Rec Department, where he served as a board member for a number of years.  In retirement, he finds his life busy with many community volunteer activities. He still can be found in the early morning or late afternoon out at the college working on the baseball fields, not as a paid hand, but a volunteer who wants to see the baseball complex remain as one of the finest in the state.

Dan Ball, a native of Austin, is truly an unsung hero in the community of Austin.  He is living out his life doing what he loves most: sports.