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  • Writer's picturePeter Miller

Author Bryan Stevenson observed that, “You can't understand most of the important things from a distance...You have to get close.” SGG's "Football in Wisconsin" special series gets close to football through conversations with coaches, competitors, and others connected with the game in the Badger state. We aim to deepen our understandings of coaching -- and of football's impact on and off the field.

John Koronkiewicz served as a coach and teacher at Waupaca High School for 40 years. He spent 24 years as head coach of the baseball program and 32 years as head coach of the football program. He was elected into the WFCA High School Coaches’ Hall of Fame and also into the National High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame. “Coach Kronk” won many championships over the years and is respected by coaches across the state. Coach is admired by former players, families, and community members for his positive impact over the years. In this episode, we discussed:

1.Playing football for Wisconsin Hall of Famers Jerry Schliem and Russ Young.

2. Growing up playing sports on the farm.

3. His emphasis on creating a positive, fun environment during his initial years at Waupaca—and his emphasis on developing lessons that could be used for life.

4. Leaving the field in a positive mood each day.

5. “Attitude, character, enthusiasm, team.”

6. Playing the Beach Boys on Friday afternoons in the classroom.

7. Being yourself, not faking it, and having a passion for the game.

8. Creating the team as a “home away from home.”

9. Coaching as a gift.

10. Finding a niche for each player – and the coaches “owing it” to each player to get him on the field with a meaningful role.

11. Working in the best interest of the kids by being honest and caring.

12. Coaching as a service to others – not an enhancement of one’s own ambitions.

13. Continuing to learn, even amid long periods of success. “Losing can become a habit – as can winning.”

14. Building a program that the community could be proud of.

16. Being proud of and keeping friendships with past players and assistant coaches, including Amherst’s Mark Lusic.

17. The identity of Wisconsin football.


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