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SGG episode #37: Cuba City coach Jerry Petitgoue: “A great coach can change a life"


Coaches are important educational leaders in our schools, communities, and universities. The Sport and the Growing Good (SGG) podcast provides embedded, front-line insights on winning and positive development. The SGG podcast can be heard here and on all major podcast platforms.

Jerry Petitgoue is the head basketball coach at Cuba City High School in Wisconsin. He is the all-time leader in wins in Wisconsin (with over 900!), he’s won three state titles, been elected to multiple halls of fame, and received countless other awards. After more than 50 years of coaching, he’s still going strong, serving as director of the robust Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association – and was even voted as the Wisconsin state coach of the year in 2020.

1. Getting his work ethic from his parents. His father was a miner and his mom worked in a factory.

2. His high school coach, who only recently passed away.

3. His advice to new coaches: “I would take all the psychology classes that I could take” and “I would have a mentor.”

4. Learning to play Euchre from his grandfather.

5. Being a teacher and coach in Cuba City.

6. Why younger coaches should have “someone with gray hair on the bench” as a mentor.

7. “I want to coach kids the way I would want to be coached. And I look at them like my sons.”

8. Stirring up interest in the game by distributing mini-basketballs to newborns at the local hospital.

9. The importance of being a teacher in the school where you coach. “I wanted to be the best history teacher I could be.”

10. The importance of being able to read body language.

11. How his year of studying broadcasting in Chicago helped him as a teacher and coach.

12. Balancing coaching and family (how Hudl has helped). And the important role his wife Joan has played in his life over the years – including with the WBCA.

13. The life lessons learned through athletics. “You get yourself up off the ground and you compete.” “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

14. Continuing to learn the game with other coaches, including good friends Will Rey and Jeff Boos.

15. Keeping things simple.

16. Keeping things engaging and fun (even telling pre-game knock-knock jokes).