St Croix - Culture of Champions
by Jason Koele
Dean of Students/Activities Director
St. Croix Central High School, Hammond, Wisconsin
St. Croix Central High School has a “big school” mentality. It uses a systemic approach to strength and conditioning, and its unified athletic department have all contributed to the success of our athletics this school year. From athletes to coaches, parents and community, we all have had a hand in the growth and development of our athletic culture.
This year, St. Croix Central demonstrated that we are not only able to compete within the dominant Middle Border Conference but on the biggest stages of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association tournaments. The 2017-18 fall sports season has turned out to be the greatest in all of school history, and the winter could prove just the same. It is a fall that will transcend the test of time where generations will remember the inspiring performances of our athletes both male and female alike.
The success began with our girls golf team, led by coach Logan Kimberly, making it to the sectional level of competition for the first time in several years. It was a tremendous finish to their season, led by a young core, which will prove to be even better next year. Our golfers were followed by our girls volleyball team, led by coach Mindy Widiker. The team captured their first conference title since 1997, first Regional Championship since 1999, and first Sectional Final appearance since 1999.
Our girls cross country team, coached by Bill Emery, once again showed their strength finishing second in the conference, earning their first ever Sectional Championship, and qualifying for state for the second year in a row, where they finished seventh as a team. Our boys cross country team, also coached by Mr. Emery, shared similar success to the girl’s team this year. The boys placed third in the conference, captured second at the Sectional Invitational, and qualified for the second time in school history for state, the last time being in 2008.
Lastly, our boys football team, led by coach Tony DiSalvo, finished another incredible season ending at Camp Randall in Madison. The boys finished second in the conference and made it to state for the second year in a row, capturing the State runner-up trophy after an extremely physical and hard-fought game.
Our winter seasons have picked up right where the fall seasons ended. Our wrestling team has several members who anticipate a state run, the boys basketball team is currently 10-3 as they seek their first conference championship since 2010, and our girls basketball team is currently 13-2, sitting undefeated atop the Middle Border Conference. They will be looking for their first conference title since 1981! At the core of this success is our strength program.
The implementation of the Bigger, Faster, Stronger (BFS) program four years ago has taken our high school athletes to the next level. It has aided in increasing success both in our boys and girls sports and has helped minimize certain injuries we had been plagued with in the past. It is because of this that we have taken the program to our middle school level.
Our students have the opportunity to strength train at the middle and high school, both before and after school. It has now also been embedded in our physical education curriculum at the high school, and have provided both schools with the opportunity to train throughout the summer.
Our summer program offers four different training times in the day and has consistently had a participation rate of 75 percent of our student body at the high school level. Led by coaching staff and graduates, our goal is to weave our training into our culture. It is no longer something that is for the few. It is now a part of who we are as Panthers.
St. Croix Central has made its presence known in the state. Only three other schools in the state have achieved the level of consistent success we have seen this fall. It is a feat that can only be contributed to the culture we teach and model for our athletes every day of the year. As we continue in our winter season and into the spring, the Panthers look to continue their dominance of the Middle Border.
Through the values we set forth for our athletes, we can move from a strong athletic culture to a championship culture throughout all sports and seasons. It is no longer a dream to reach the pinnacle of high school sports. It is now woven into who we are, and who we will continue to be.