Monthly Archives: November 2017

‘COACH’ JOHN RICHTER – LANCER SENIOR WORKING TOWARD HIS GOAL

'COACH' JOHN RICHTER
LANCER SENIOR WORKING TOWARD HIS GOAL

One of the key seniors on the Brookfield Central state-runner-up football team never made the roster, threw a pass, had a reception or made a tackle. Unless you are familiar with the Lancers program, you probably never heard of John Richter.

Richter was an official assistant coach on the Lancers team this year, something he knew he wanted to do ever since he started playing football in the Jr. Lancers program.

"Ever since fifth grade, my first season of football, I got the idea I wanted to become a coach. Then from there it spring boarded itself. Through juniors (Jr. Lancers) I would help out. I would be the scout team's quarterback because I knew the other team's offense.

Richter slowly eased himself into the position his first three seasons at Central, while playing JV his first two years.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- Brookfield Central coach senior John Richter takes in the atmosphere  before the state championship football game this fall.

"My freshman year I approached coach (Jed) Kennedy about staying on the sidelines in the games because I told him what I wanted to do (be a college coach)," Richter said. "My sophomore year I played on JV and I stood on the sidelines (for varsity games) and I did a couple blitz charts showing what kind of stunts the opponents were using and then got that info to coach (Joel) Nellis (offensive line coach)."

Richter then looked to make a complete switch from playing to coaching his junior year.

"It was the Friday before we started - the July 4th weekend - I had this idea," he said. "I knew I didn't want to play. I wanted to start my football coaching career. I wanted to jumpstart it early."

So Richter contacted Kennedy and set up a meeting.

"I called coach that night and we talked it through," he said. "I met with him and he told me to practice for a week. I went through the first week of training camp and I told him I really didn't want to do this (as a football player). I wanted to start being involved coaching-wise. So that's when that started. I helped out with anything that they needed. In terms of what they couldn't do, I would help them with."

Kennedy knew Richter was part of the youth program.

"He was really little, not very big (John is 5-feet, 11 inches, 135 pounds today)," he said. "His goal was to be a college football coach and he felt this way the best way to set himself up. So he latched on to the coaching role.

"I talked to his dad (Dave) and we thought it was a win-win for everybody."

Kennedy had never run into a situation like this during his coaching career.

"This is a first," he said. "I don't know if there has ever been a kid to have the passion, the knowledge, the will to be a coach. If you looked at the body of work he has done, you would think he was a coach for a long time.

"Even in his first year of coaching, he didn’t dip his toe in the water, he jumped in head first. It was an unbelievable experience. He sent me a message after the season was over thanking me for everything over the last four years.

"But the reality was I was really the lucky one and our staff were really the lucky ones to work with John. He was just unbelievable. He's mature beyond his years."

He is very mature, extremely unselfish. He is Lancer Blue all the way through. There isn’t a student in the student body who doesn’t know who John Richter is. It’s unbelievable. I told him ‘Some day I’ll be working for you.’ “It’s a question of whether he’ll hire me or not.”

--- Coach Jed Kennedy

Kennedy explained that Richter did everything that a coach would do.

"He attended staff meetings. He was instrumental in putting the no-huddle stuff together," Kennedy said. "He made bands for the no huddle. He was involved in the practice plans, the administrative duties with the offense. Except for the fact he looked like a high school kid, you would have never known."

Kennedy made it clear to his coaching staff that John was not a manager. His goal was to be a college coach when he grows up and he wanted to get the experience about how it works. How one program does it.

Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhotos --- John Richter ran the scout teams ever since he was in the Jr. Lancers program in fifth grade. That's when he knew his future was in coaching.

thrivethemes2017*

What was even more important was how would his teammates accept him as a coach. The answer wasn't surprising.

"These were guys I have been playing sports with since I was third-fourth-fifth grade," John said. "I think they all have seen how hard I worked at it. And I have been so open about what my goals were, they knew this is what I want. They were all supporting me. It's really cool. It's fun watching them under the lights, but they all support me on my side of the game, especially during the week when I'm working."

Richter recalled meeting coach George Machado, the new quarterback coach and has quite the background himself.

Richter then spoke out about what he needs to do to be successful.

"He brought me in with coach Machado in March and told me I would spend the majority of the time working with him. I ran with that, helping him. He is very influential in the passing game. I also worked with coach (Chris) Freiman (wide receiver coach).

"I did everything from making the wristbands which we wear in the game on the 'no-huddle' plays. I did all the defensive make-up for the staff. I would help out in practice with the quarterbacks and offense, running drills and stuff like that. I would help coach Machado with that. I would be with him, talking through what the plan of attack was."

Kennedy pointed out Richter's strong points on the job.

"His organizational skills, his communication skills, his unselfishness," the veteran coach said. "He made us a better football team. Our coaches' support says the most. They refer to him as coach Richter. They accepted him as a coach from day one. It never had to be addressed because it was never an issue."

Richter also talked about his strong points.

"I'm a very driven individual," he said. "I set goals for myself. If I write them down, I have a better chance for succeeding  - every goal I have for the next four years and college and what I want to pursue. I have them written down and I have ways to attack it so I can try and get it because I know the percentage of people who make it in the field is so small, so I have to work even harder."

When asked, Richter was quick to answer his favorite part of the job.

"Obviously the Friday nights, I really like the reward (being on the sidelines for the game)," he said. "My first three games I was a floater, just helping out on the sidelines with that. After week three - coach (Kennedy) doesn't wear a headset, so I would wear the phones and I was the voice between coach Kennedy and the (coaches) booth in the pressbox.

"So coach Kennedy would call the play, I would be right next to him, talking through it, asking what they (coaches in booth) see and relay the message to coach Kennedy. I was on the phones with coach Machado, coach (Jacob) Ruf (offensive line coach) and coach Nellis (offensive line coach)."

"The key thing I learned - how badly you want to succeed," he said. "It's like a grind for five months. Finding a way to get to the players that you know they can understand. It's can be a successful game plan. You can have all the ideas. But to run them in a game is a whole different animal."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- Brookfield Central senior John Richter and a group of Lancers fans celebrate another victory in the playoff run.

Richter also like the prep work.

"I really like the meetings and the plan of the attack for the week. If I can continue this (as a career) I can figure out a plan for the week. I really enjoyed it. I wouldn't say much, I would sit back and listen and take in as much as I could."

Richter also learned the difference between being an assistant and calling the plays himself.

"They would give me scripts to call plays during practice," he said. "Before the game I would run some drills - they gave me routes to run. But the best way to learn is to actually do it. So they also gave me the opportunity to call the JV game against West Allis Hale.

"When you're the one actually making the calls, it's a completely different game. You can always talk about it, but until you're really in it, you don't realize it - thinking ahead for play calls and like seeing and subbing - so many different things.

"That's experience that you can't buy. You have to be hired to get that experience. To give me that experience as a 17 year old senior in high school it was unbelievable. I would never have imagined that when I was starting four years ago."

Richter is constantly doing things to get better, know he has a lot to experience yet.

"I watch a lot of videos on You-Tube that you can look to for leadership and motivation," he said. "Coach Kennedy is probably the best leader I ever met on getting a group of guys to buy into an idea. In this day and age, it is extremely hard to do. You have to find that common goal to work toward and get everyone to achieve it.

"You could see that in basketball (last year) and football getting to state. I've been extremely blessed at Central to have such good leaders in my life. I think it is extremely important.

"Coach Kennedy changed my life. I knew I wanted to be a coach, but I never imagined the opportunity I would get at Central and when he gave me those opportunities it motivated me that much more to want to do it.

"He's influential in the community. Learning from him and seeing how he interacts with everyone. It has be helpful to learn. And he has so many resources and connections we have been able to meet. It's been awesome."

Richter then spoke out about what he needs to do to be successful.

"The key thing I learned - how badly you want to succeed," he said. "It's like a grind for five months. Finding a way to get to the players that you know they can understand. It's can be a successful game plan. You can have all the ideas. But to run them in a game is a whole different animal."

​​ Kennedy had high praise for his prize student.

"He is very mature, extremely unselfish. He is Lancer Blue all the way through. There isn't a student in the student body who doesn’t know who John Richter is. It's unbelievable. I told him 'Some day I'll be working for you.'

"It's a question of whether he'll hire me or not," Kennedy said, laughingly.

HANGING WITH JOHN RICHTER

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Pizza
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Zach Brown Band, Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Rudy,' 'Hoosiers', Action movies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Friday Night Lights'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Math & History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Hang with friends, watch film
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Finishing second at State this fall.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend  University of Wisconsin (Business) or University of Minnesota (Sports Marketing). Would like to be involved with the football program and eventually coach college football.

Ike’s Jake Belongia Brings Passion To Lions

IKE'S JAKE BELONGIA
BRINGS PASSION TO LIONS

If you're a New Berlin Eisenhower football fan, you know it's not surprising to find senior Jake
Bolognia right in the middle of the Lions' best season in years.

Eisenhower improved with 12-0 with a 7-0 win over Catholic Memorial on Nov. 3 and advanced to the Level 4 playoffs on Nov. 10, playing Whitefish Bay at Kettle Moraine.

In the win over CMH, Belongia opened a scoreless second half with a 70 yard kick-off return and then scored the game's only touchdown on a 2-yard run two plays later for the win.

Belongia has played on teams with his current teammates since he was with the New Berlin Generals in third grade.

"I had a lot of up and downs, but I strive to get better all the time," the passionate senior
said before the win over CMH. "We haven't won a Level 2 playoff game since 2002. We haven't been a level 3 team since 2002.

"We haven't had an undefeated team going into the playoffs since 1986. I've been with these guys since I was in third grade and now we now want to be state champs. We want to
go all the way. It's been a dream and we want it to be a reality."

One win over the North Shore co-champion Blue Dukes (11-1) on Nov. 10 and that dream can become a reality.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- New Berlin Eisenhower senior Jake Belongia leads the Lions in scoring with 20 touchdowns so far this season.

Belongia has been a big part of the Lions' success, splitting his time between running back and outside linebacker.

Coach Matt Kern talked about Jake's strengths at running back and outside linebacker.

"Speed is definitely one of them; how hard he runs," he said. "You hear it from everyone who watches our games. He runs with a certain intensity. He runs through arm tackles; he's a tough, tough kid.

"On defense he has great leverage. He's a really good natural tackler. He has that speed to chase down from the edge. He's good in coverage. He really understands our defense and he plays it smartly. He combines all those things to become a very good defensive player."

Belongia is second in rushing with 877 yards in 111 carries, an average of 7.9 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns. He is also a threat through the air, catching 26 balls for 306 yards and 7 touchdowns, an average of 11.8 yards per carry. His combined 20 touchdowns leads the Lions.

Jake, he’s really emerged as a strong senior leader. He’s a vocal leader in the locker room. Guys have a lot of respect when he has something to say.”

---Coach Matt Kern

"My strength is running low to the ground," he said. "If you run higher, you can easily be tackled. But me and Jack Himmelspach (his running mate) do a great job at staying low to the ground, making hard cuts and just running straight downhill.

"We don't pitter-patter in the hole. We hit the hole and we go. I give that up to my coaches because they taught me that. We run the ball really hard.”

But Jake, who is a solid 5-feet, 9 inch, 185 pounds, is also proud of his defense.

"I'm good at holding the edge and that's my job," he said. "I keep that outside arm free. I take on blocks really hard and I don't let them affect me. I try to hit back when I see a big lineman coming at me. I try to hit him first."

Belongia wants to play football at the next level, so he knows he has things to work on.

"When I see a hole I should get more cutbacks," he said. "I've been running to the outside. I put my head down and get as many yards as I can so I don't lose yardage.

"As an outside linebacker, I want to work on pursuing to the ball when someone pops me. I want to make the tackle also."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- One of five captains on this year's team, senior Jake Belongia has been New Berlin Eisenhower's vocal leaders this season.  

Belongia then showed why he is such a team guy.

"I love blocking, even though it's underestimated," he said. "I love when Jack (Himmelspach) gets the ball, running down the field and blocking for those guys so they can get yards and score touchdowns."

When asked why he stuck with football, Jake, who also went to state in wrestling and track and field, had a simple answer.

"It's a team sport. You don't just rely on yourself," he said. "You have your teammates
to fall back on. I think it's the best sport on this earth and I love playing it."

Jake then pointed out how the teamwork applies on defense.

"You have to do your own job. You have to hold that edge," he pointed out. "Keep your
outside arm free. Middle linebackers have to rely on me - if there's a breech on the outside that's on me. And it's on them to fill the hole when I hold the edge. They have to come up and tackle the running back. I count on them as they count on me. There's a lot of teamwork involved."

Belongia then talked about  ups-and-downs of playing both ways.

"There is a little more pressure on me, but I love it, though," he said. "I want to be on the field every second of every single game no matter what. I love to make plays and just be on that field.

"Physically, it can get tough at times, especially at the beginning of the year when I'm not as
conditioned. But now with these later games, I feel I can be out there more, I don't get as tired. I can keep up with it."

Jake is one of five Lions captains along with Bryce Miller, Joe Lang Stefan Halusan and Dylan
Abbott. Leadership is important to him.

"It's everything to me. I know the guys look up to me," he said. "I want to lead them and
I think they know I try my hardest on the field. I do my best to not only help
myself, but to help them. Not only the varsity kids, but the JV kids so they
can come up and make an impact on our team.

"It's all about the future and I want to teach them things other people have taught me. I
definitely don't want to just tell them, I want to show them. If they do something wrong in practice I'm going to show them what to do."

Kern has seen Belongia grow as a leader over the years.

"Jake, he's really emerged as a strong senior leader," he said. "He's a vocal leader in
the locker room. Guys have a lot of respect when he has something to say."

When asked to sum up his career, Kern added the following statement.

"By the time he leaves here, he is going to be one of the most decorated athletes this school
has had."

HANGING WITH JAKE BELONGIA

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Steak
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Hip-Hop, Country
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Fury.'  Action movies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'ESPN'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Social Studies
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   Cancun, Mexico
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:   Sleep or workout
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Pewaukee
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Winning Conference this year and reaching Level 3.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college and play football and study Nursing

SPARTANS’ ZOE WOODS JACK OF ALL TRADES FOR EAST SWIMMERS

SPARTANS' ZOE WOODS
JACK OF ALL TRADES FOR EAST SWIMMERS

​For those of you who follow baseball - the Milwaukee Brewers in particular - Brookfield East girls swimming coach Michael Rose has his own version of Hernan Perez.

Perez is the Brewers utility man, a player so multi-talented that he is too valuable to play only one position. This past season Perez played every position but catcher for the Brewers and was a key part of their success.

Junior Zoe Woods is the equivalent of Perez on the Spartans swimming team.

Woods made it to state in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke and was part of the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay teams as a sophomore. She also swims the 200 free and 50 free and she is a state level 100 butterfly swimmer.

"She's my utility player," Rose said. "She has swum pretty much every event since she's been here. We'll put her in odd positions. Last night she swam the 200 medley relay and then came back and swam the 200 free. The week before she swam the 200 free relay, the 100 back, the 400 free relay, swimming three of four events and anchored our relays there.

"She's just super competitive and willing to do whatever we need her to do. She isn't afraid to race (against some of the best swimmers in the area). She gets upset when she loses - she's very competitive - but a lot of times that's kind of the person you want on your relays and stuff.

"It's not the person who always wants to win - it's the person that never wants to lose. She's willing to do whatever and she can do whatever. Right now she has to decide what races he's most comfortable in. She should qualify in whatever events she swims. She tapers really well."

Last weekend (Oct. 28) at the Greater Metro Conference meet, Zoe won the 200 freestyle in 1:57.50 which is quite a good, untapered time. She was also third in the 100 backstroke at 100.9 which is also good. It was a very tight race."


Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- Brookfield East junior Zoe Woods is the Spartans version of baseball's utility player, taking part in several individual events and acnhoring the relay teams.

The Spartans open the sectional on Saturday, Nov. 4, - the diving event is on Friday, Nov. 3 - at Waukesha South/Mukwonago and swimming is the next day. State is set for the following weekend, Nov. 10-11, at the UW Natatorium in Madison.

Zoe shared her thoughts on swimming in several events over her career.

"I like the 200 free and I haven't swam that the past two years," she said. "I think that's my favorite now. I've always liked the backstroke, but lately I've grown out of it. I do like freestyle a lot now. I like sprints."

Rose has Woods anchoring some of the relays and she talked about the responsibility that puts on her.


Kids like that stand out because they are so much better when they hit the water. Even if they don’t do anything, they just dive in and blow past everybody.”

---Coach Michael Rose

"It's kind of scary if it's close, but I like it," she said. "There's a lot of pressure but you want to impress people at the same time. He (Rose) has a lot of faith in me. I can bring home the relays. When it's close, all the adrenaline is pumping and you just go faster."

Zoe talked about the different mindset when being on the relay team.

"For relays they're definitely more fun because it's a team effort," she said. "I have a different view on the race. You don't want to let the other people down, so everyone's together.

"As an individual it's all you. If you end up doing not so well (in individual races), it's all on you. If you do well it's just for you to celebrate."

Zoe first got into recreational swimming in third grade in Pennsylvania before moving here when she was 5 years old and joined the Elmbrook Swim Club.

"I met a lot of friends and practice was really fun for me," she recalled. "I used to like dance too. Then  I got my first state qualification - that's when I got serious about swimming. Then over the year I've had more accomplishments."

Rose actually coached Zoe before high school with the Elmbrook Swim Club, so he knew what was coming.

"I coached Zoe when she was 8-9 years old at Elmbrook - she stood out even then as she has great underwater ankle flexibility," he said. "She was good at dives and streamling stuff.

"Kids like that stand out because they are so much better when they hit the water. Even if they don't do anything, they just dive in and blow past everybody. She was with me only for a year and she was talented enough that she moved up right away by the time she was 11. 

"When they are little, they tend to get really good, really fast. She was never going to be a super big girl, so she was going to keep a swimmers physique. The feel for the water and the underwater stuff she had was an unusual talent for a little kid. She was just comfortable in the water and she managed it very well."




Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhoto LLC --- Zoe Woods finished first in the 100 freestyle and third in the 100 backstroke.

Rose then continued to talk about her strength and what she needs to work on.

"She is really strong, which is great for underwater. She swims really strong, very powerful. If you watch her when she dives, she has incredibly flexible ankles. Swimmers are allowed to swim 15 meters underwater. The fastest swimmers use it all. Zoe is very fast."

With the post-season before year as well as her senior year, Rose talked about what she has to work on - which wasn't much.

"She has to just keep working like she has been working," he said. "She can get down on herself or get disappointed if things don't go perfectly, but this year's been better. She stays happy all the time. This has been a really happy season for her. She's been really upbeat."

Zoe also talked about her strengths and what she needs to work on and she was a little more critical of herself than Rose was.

"My underwater streamlining is really my strength. I streamline underwater almost 15 meters," she said. "While some people have already started swimming, I'm underwater still kicking. My first stroke is like their fifth stroke.

"But I have to work on my reaction time for starts. I'm a little slow on that. Also believing in myself that I can do it. Sometimes I doubt myself when I'm on the blocks. I need to work on having a positive attitude toward every race."

Although he is not a captain this year, Zoe has her own ideas about leadership.

"Because I am one of the better swimmers on the team, the JV girls kind of know who I am," she said. "They see me during the meet. I try to be nice to them. I will give them advice. I go to them or they come to me. I like to be nice to everyone on team, cheering for everyone, caring for everyone, leading cheers."

One of the things she learned was making sure the JV girls felt included.

"I learned that we need to include everyone," she said. "Sometimes they don't come to our carbo crams because their meet is at the same time or because they don't know anyone. As a team in the future we need to work on bonding, everyone together, to be friends, know each other."

Rose has seen Zoe improve her leadership skills.

"I think she's grown as a leader," he said. "She takes a while to get to know because overall she's pretty quiet. I think she's more outgoing with the kids. Since she was a little kid, my experience with her with me and other adults who coached her was she was pretty quiet.

"I've had her in class, she sits by me and we're spent quite a bit of time talking and I'm getting to know her much better. I think she's loosening up that way. She's a really good 'in the pool' leader more than anything. She leads by example, how she swims, how hard she works."

Since neither of her parents (Jim and Kris) swam, Zoe is surprised by her success.

"So it's kind of shocking for me that I've had the natural talent for that."


HANGING WITH ZOE WOODS

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Mac & Cheese, Rasberries
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   ​'Get Out,'  Horror
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Riverdale,' 'Criminal Minds'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Hilton Head, SC
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Lay in bed with my laptop
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   ​Menomonee Falls
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   ​Set a record in the 200 medley relay at sectional.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college, swim and study Sports Marketing