Redhawks managers part of winning formula this season

Hulme and Wrage set to return next year

Redhawks managers Emily Hulme (left, red hoodie) and Danika Wrage (right) pictured on the sidelines of the regular season North Tama-Grundy Center game played on the road in Spartan Stadium on October 15. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

It takes more than just the players and coaches to make a high school football team like North Tama great — and great the Redhawks were this season finishing with an 8-3 record and making it to the state quarterfinals.

It also takes a couple of dedicated team managers like Emily Hulme and Danika Wrage scrambling on the sidelines to keep the team’s water/Gatorade bottles full and equipment organized all while always on alert for Coach Taylor Wurth’s familiar call “Water!”

This was the first year both Hulme, a junior, and Wrage, a freshman, volunteered as managers for the team and since they both have said they’re definitely coming back next season, it’s safe to say they enjoyed their roles on the Redhawks’ sideline.

“I chose to be a manager this year because I’ve always loved football and this was my first chance,” Wrage — whose older brother Jakeb Cochran was a member of the 2010 Redhawks Class A State Championship team — said when asked how she got interested in managing high school football.

“I like football because it is so physical and I grew up watching my brother play. I might try and play [football] if I wanted to but I think I’ll stick to manager,” Wrage continued.

North Tama football managers Emily Hulme (center, black sweatshirt) and Danika Wrage (right, winter cap) pass out water and Gatorade to members of the Redhawks football team during a timeout on the Spartans’ field November 5. The Redhawks played the Spartans in the Class A state quarterfinals in Grundy Center. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Hulme cited an experience similar to Wrage’s — of an older brother influencing her decision to manage. Hulme’s brother Thomas was a senior on the Redhawks’ team this year and she spent many of her childhood years watching him play, she said.

“This season has been amazing and I really enjoyed it,” Hulme said. “I have watched the senior [Redhawks] boys play football since fourth grade because of my brother and it was super cool to actually be a part of their team and not just be in the stands. I like football. It’s fun to watch.”

Both managers said the boys were respectful of their roles as managers.

“I do get picked on for being a senior’s little sister,” Hulme admitted, “but I got used to it. The boys are super nice most of the time and it’s fun to talk to them and also get to know them more.”

“I feel the boys and coaches treat me and Emily with respect,” Wrage agreed. “It felt great to be a part of such a successful team.”

Redhawks football manager Emily Hulme refills water bottles during the Class A state quarterfinals game in Grundy Center on November 5. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Both Hulme and Wrage wished the team had made it to the UNI-Dome for the Class A Championship game, of course, but they enjoyed the season’s ups and downs regardless.

“I think my favorite game this season was probably the Wapello game because we were down but we fought hard and didn’t give up,” Wrage said. “Plus the ride down and back was so much fun.”

The Redhawks played the Wapello Indians October 22 on the road in the first round of the state playoffs — knocking Wapello out of the postseason, 23-22, by playing some smart, tough gridiron football.

Coach Taylor Wurth, in his second season as head coach of the Redhawks football team this year, described Hulme and Wrage — as well as the 2020-2021 managers — as “life savers.”

“They have not only worked hard at jobs that don’t always get noticed,” Coach Wurth said in an email interview, “they also take great pride in what they do. Our guys know the work that Emily [Hulme] and Danika [Wrage] put in. They will protect them in any situation.”

Redhawks managers Danika Wrage (left) and Emily Hulme (right) pictured on the sidelines of Spartan Stadium in Grundy Center just ahead of the final game of the Redhawks’ 2021-2022 season. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

Coach Wurth said Hulme and Wrage went above and beyond all expectations he had for them this year and appreciated their positivity and willingness to perform their roles.

The Redhawks managers are already problem solving ahead of next season.

“We think we have a plan for next season to make carrying the big water jugs easier,” Wrage said.

It is certainly true a championship team can’t be built without a cohesive team and Hulme and Wrage were vital parts of the Redhawks’ formula this year — on Dennis Field and beyond.