Coach Bladt back for Cyclone Camp of Champions

Longtime HCHS football coach returns to the field following off-season battle with cancer, recent heart surgery... Pending school board approval, Curt Bladt to be Honorary Head Coach in 2019; son Todd Bladt Interim Head Coach

 HARLAN (Aug. 7) -- If there was any doubt the past eight months whether Curt Bladt would still be coaching the Harlan Community football team this fall, the answer became more clear at this week’s annual Cyclone Camp of Champions.
 On a warm August morning at Merrill Field - made warmer by the sun blazing down on the crushed rubber tire pellets of the artificial playing surface - Coach Bladt watched from midfield in his motorized chair with cane in hand.
 Considering all that Bladt has been through since last December, this was truly a sight for sore eyes.
 “It’s not quite as comfortable as a hospital bed, but it’s a much better location,” said Bladt, showing off his quick wit and trademark hearty laugh in the same breath.
 Bladt, 74, didn’t feel much like laughing during a long, arduous off-season that included his battle with bone cancer, a broken hip and open heart surgery just over a month ago. But through it all, he never gave up hope in returning for his 42nd year as the Cyclones’ coach. Three weeks from today, he plans to be on the sideline for the Cyclones’ season opener - feeling fortunate to do so.
 “I’m overjoyed,” he said with another laugh. “I can actually get up and move around. I walk out to the car and get in the car; I drive now and all that kind of stuff. It’s much better and getting better.”
New coaching dynamic:
 Pending school board approval August 19, the HCHS head coaching position will actually be shared this season between Curt Bladt and the youngest of his three sons, Todd Bladt, who is entering his 12th year on the football staff.
 HCS Interim Superintendent Lynn Johnson released the following statement on Wednesday.
 “The Harlan Community School District is fortunate to have a long-standing tradition of excellence in football under the direction of Coach Curt Bladt and a team of outstanding assistant coaches. Personal health issues for Coach Curt Bladt have necessitated that we reconfigure our coaching staff this year to best serve our student-athletes.
 “Coach Curt Bladt will continue to instill his hall of fame wisdom into our football program as an Honorary Head Coach while prioritizing his physical well-being. Throughout the off-season, Coach Todd Bladt has fulfilled head coaching responsibilities. We are pleased to announce that Todd Bladt will assume the position of Interim Head Coach this year, pending board approval on August 19.”

 Todd Bladt noted that his increased role as a head coach this past off-season has been an eye-opening experience, but a challenge he looks forward to accepting. At the end of Tuesday’s high school camp session, it was Todd who addressed the team as Curt looked on.
 “It’s interesting,” Todd said of his new title. “You’re taking over for not only your dad, but somebody that’s kind of a big deal. You slide around in those shoes a little bit, but I’ve been trying to keep my head above water.”
 Papa Bladt couldn’t help but chime in here. “He wears bigger shoes than I do,” Curt dead-panned.

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