An era has come to an end in Ames.
Girls’ tennis coach Len Thiede said Monday he is retiring after more than three decades of coaching.
“We’ve had a great run over the years,” Thiede said. “It just feels like this is a good time to do it.”
Thiede, 66, who coached at Ames for 31 seasons, is one of the most decorated girls’ tennis coaches in the state. He compiled a 340-89 dual meet record and led four consecutive undefeated state-champion teams from 2009-2012.
Thiede also led Ames to runner-up finishes at state in 2005 and 2008.
Under his guidance, the Little Cyclones became the only girls’ 2-A team to win singles, doubles and team championships in consecutive years (2011-2012).
In 2007, he was named a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s girls’ tennis coach of the year award.
Thiede, now a grandfather for the first time, said he looks forward to spending time with his seven-month-old grandchild.
“I’ve been thinking about it the last three or four years,” Thiede said of retirement.
Ames athletic director Judge Johnston said the two shared tears in his office when Thiede told him of his decision last week.
“We’re replacing a legend in the sport of tennis,” Johnston said.
Thiede was already retired as a middle-school and elementary-school teacher after more than 30 years of work.
Thiede, who said he’ll continue to be a supporter of the Little Cyclones girls’ tennis team, is still an avid tennis player. Despite retirement, he said that won’t change, either.
“It’s in my blood,” Thiede said.
When asked what type of replacement he was looking for, Johnston joked.
“Superman number two,” Johnston said with a laugh.
“Somebody’s got some really big shoes to fill.”