Gael tennis greats square off as WDM coaches | News, Sports, Jobs

Submitted photo: Former St. Edmond tennis stars Mike Conlon (left) and Aaron Chalstrom meet together before the pose. Conlon is head coach at West Des Moines Valley; Rival Dowling at the same post that Chalstrom holds.

WEST DES MOINES – Two of the best tennis players to ever compete in St. A different environment in Edmond met recently.

SEHS graduate Aaron Chalstrom led his West Des Moines Dowling girls tennis team to a 9-2 victory over rival West Des Moines Valley, who is coached by 1980 Gael grad Mike Conlon.

Chalstrom and Conlon are the only individual state tennis champions in St. History of Edmond.

Before the connection between the two had happened, though.

“Mike went to St. Edmond and knew my mom and my uncles, ” Said Chalstrom, who graduated from St. Edmond in 2013. “So I had always heard about him and his tennis. I will always remember that after my own state championship, he was in town visiting family and knocking on our door to congratulate me.

“It was just a really thoughtful gesture on his part and he was so excited for me. It was fun catching up with him and sharing stories (at the meet). ”

Chalstrom, who would go on to play at Creighton University and coach at the collegiate level, is currently teaching Dowling at Business Education.

“After coaching Div. Four years on, I knew I needed to make a change, ” Said Chalstrom. “I loved coaching in college, the places it took me and the relationships I made, but I also knew I was ready for a break. My education is in business and I saw Dowling at a Business Education opening.

“I was always thinking that if coaching didn’t work, teaching would be another option. I had some great teachers and coaches at St. Edmond who helped shape my teenage years and I always thought I could do that for others. I am still learning on the teaching side of things, but I have made relationships and connections with my students. ”

Conlon, who played at Iowa State University, is in his sixth season leading the Tigers – currently ranked No. 2 Dowling behind the state only.

“It’s very cool (Chalstrom’s squad with a square off) and probably the first time two former Gael state champions have coached against each other,” he said. “It was also neat because I went to school with Aaron’s mom and uncles, and know their family.”

Like Chalstrom, Conlon had plenty of state success at St. Edmond. Chalstrom was a three-time individual runner-up with his title, while Conlon placed fifth in doubles with his brother, Pat, who won the individual crown as a junior. He would place second as a senior.

“I have many fond memories of road trips to other schools with my teammates,” Conlon said. “We had a lot of fun and I really enjoyed my high school tennis days.”

Conlon worked for over two years at Meredith Printing and Publishing Company before opening his own print management business in 2014.

Dowling opened the spring by winning the Johnston Invitational, which also included Valley. They are set to host a tournament this weekend and plenty of Tigers later in the year.

“I really enjoyed the first few weeks of the season. The poor weather has made things difficult for everyone, but other than that it has been a lot of fun, ” Said Chalstrom. “We have a great group of girls who want to work, which makes it so enjoyable for our coaches. I am so thankful for my two assistants as they take a lot off my plate and do whatever is best for our team. We each offer our girls a different perspective and I think that every player to reach us.

“I’m excited for the rest of the season and how far we can go.”

Valley is 3-1 with wins over Pleasant Valley, Bettendorf and Ankeny Centennial, placing third at the Johnston Invitational.

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