All Posts by Sky Skibosh

ANDREW & AUSTEN SCHWEINERT – CENTRAL’S TWIN TERRORS

ANDREW & AUSTEN SCHWEINERT
CENTRAL'S SOCCER TWIN TERRORS

It's not surprising that having a father who played soccer at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and then had a brief stint with the Milwaukee Wave on the professional level, that his twin sons would also take up the game and excel during their careers.

But that is exactly what Andrew and Austen Schweinert did, as they followed in the footsteps of their father, Peter, who played at UWM (1984-88), was named co-captain and earned all-conference honors and then played 36 games with the Wave in 1989-90 season.

Both players always had a ball around because of their father and they played their first organized soccer when they were 4 years old in a rec league. And they each had some interesting ideas on why they liked the game.

"I like being part of the team. I like the idea that you really have to earn your points," Andrew said. "Basketball and football are high-scoring games. In soccer you really have to earn your goals. It feels good to do something as a team and win. And my dad really pushed me in soccer. I'm glad that he pushed me to try soccer and I just loved it."

Austen had an interesting reason.

"I like the fact that you use your feet," he said. All the other sports are just hand and eye coordination. Playing with my feet is something I love to do. I was a pretty hyper kid when I was younger. I was just running around. Being with Andrew we're super competitive and we'd play against each other all the time."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Senior Andrew Schweinert wins a battle for a loose ball against Marquette. Andrew, a midfielder, runs the show for the Lancers, setting up the attackers and directing the defenders.

Now the Schweinerts and their Brookfield Central soccer teammates need two sectional wins to make their second straight trip to the WIAA State Tournament.

After going 3-2-2 and tying for third in the Greater Metro Conference as freshman, the Lancers lost seven seniors and finished seventh (1-5-1). But last year they bounced back (14-2-5 overall) and finished undefeated (4-0-3) and tied for second in the GMC and eventually made their way to state, where they lost to eventual state champ Marquette, 3-0, in the first round.

Austen, who earned GMC honorable mention honors his first two years, and Andrew were named to the All-GMC first team last year.

Central coach Dan Makal knew he had something special with the Schweinerts and teammate Alex Mirsberger who was featured in Preps2Pros.net earlier this fall (http://preps2pros.net/2017/09/14/chip-on-his-shoulder-has-keyed-lancers-alex-mirsberger/).

"As they started getting older, we started graduating some of our guys," Makal said. "We were a really young team and they were asked to play a lot of minutes. With Alex Mirsberger too,  those three really had the varsity experience. They played almost every minute for four years."

As a midfielder, Andrew has a lot of responsibility - setting up the attackers and being the first line of defenders.

"My goal is to get the ball to him (Austen) and he scores all the goals," Andrew said, while laughing. "I feel I have to be a vocal leader, I have to direct players in front of me to help defensively, win balls for our team defensively and then start our attack going forward."

Makal talked about his strong points.

As they started getting older, we started graduating some of our guys. We were a really young team and they were asked to play a lot of minutes.With Alex Mirsberger too,  those three really had the varsity experience. They played almost every minute for four years.

--- Coach Dan Makal

"His rhythm (on the game flow) and balance. He does the nebulous stuff," Makal said of Andrew, who has already accepted a scholarship to Loyola University. "He kind of makes us click. He gets the ball and he can choose where it goes - how we go about and attack.

"It takes a lot of patience, a lot of thought. If there is a situation where we are attacking a bunch, every good band has a bass and a drummer and they're going to have to listen to each other. They're the core of the rhythm section. Andrew feeds off the back line, feels what happens back there, releasing some pressure. He'll also look to put defensive situations out before they get to our back line. He's the first preliminary line before the defenders. Even though we defend with everybody, that's really his role."

Photo

Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhotos --- Senior forward Austen Schweinert led the Brookfield Central offense with 18 goals in only 14 games during the regular season.

Austen, who has 18 goals, gets more of the headlines.

"He's an attacker. His ability is to get on the ball. He's a playmaker," Makal said. "We ask him to be athletic; it's good that he has that quality. Being athletic is a plus and it helps Austen's ability to take someone on.

"There are a lot of players who are just soccer players, they are not multi-faceted. He has that ability to take someone on. Being athletic is a plus. He can pass the ball, get the ball back and score a goal."

Austen knows what is expected of him.

"I love scoring and I love to score as many goals as I can," he said. "I'm also the creator and I want to help my teammates score goals if I can. (When I do score) the feeling is indescribable. Obviously, nothing beats scoring other than winning."

Both players also know their strong points and the best way to help their team be successful.

"I'm a really technical player," Andrew said. "I can see the field really well. I can make good passes, help my teammates out.

"I feel that I'm a pretty good defender, like a two-way player. It helps that I'm a pretty big guy (6-feet).  I like applying a lot of pressure on my first touch, connecting on passes. That's my strength."

Austen knows his job is to put the ball in the net.

"One of them (his strengths) is definitely scoring," he said. "I'm pretty good at finishing. I'm pretty good at dribbling. I love dribbling, actually. Sometimes they get mad at me for doing too much (dribbling). Personally I'm not good at defending. (Andrew) is a much better defender. But attacking-wise, I feel I'm very, very good."

Both players know they have things they can get better at. Andrew needs to work on his footwork and acceleration. Austen feels he is too much of a one-way player and wants to work on his timing, explosiveness off the ball and his defensive work.

Both players, plus Mirsberger are team captains, something that is important to them.

"I think it's huge. I think being a leader is a big honor," Andrew said. "They look up to me. I have to be a good role model to them. It's something I want to do, both vocally and leading by example.

"Given my position on the field, I have to be a vocal leader - bringing guys up when they fail to do something, encouraging them to do better and then praising them when they do well. In a game - making a tackle and making a pass - I feel I can lift guys up that way."

Austen pointed out there are two freshmen and a handful of sophomores on the team.

"Especially for Andrew and I with it being our last year, we have to lead these guys. They're the future of our program and we want to give them a heads start on other teams who might not have freshmen. I think it's important that we have to show them the ropes, what it's like to play here. I definitely think Andrew is more of a vocal leader than I am, I definitely like to lead by example.

Both talked about growing up being twins and the natural rivalry.

"You can't really avoid it. The guy looks just like you," Andrew laughed. "It's like looking in a mirror. We push each other to get better. Both want to be the best we can be. We push each other to be better than the day before. There is always a natural rivalry. For example, his favorite team is Arsenal and mine is Chelsea."

"He's pushed me harder," Austen added. "The competition is great. I probably wouldn't be where I am today without the competition between us."

Both players looked back as their varsity career was coming to a close.

"This is a super important fourth year. It's crazy how time flies," Andrew said. "I remember every senior saying just wait until you are in our shoes, it just goes so fast. It's finally playoff time our senior year. I loved my time playing with BC and I just want it to go as far as possible."

Added Austen.

"I'd love to have my season end with a state championship trophy," he said. "I want to go as far as we can. It's scary how fast time has gone. Looking back it's been really great, but it would be a lot nicer if we got the trophy."

Then one final friendly shot when I laughed and asked who was better looking.

"Me," said Andrew. I'm obviously going to say myself," Austen said. "And the girls are going to say me as well. But he can say what he wants."

It just never gets old.

HANGING WITH ANDREW SCHWEINERT

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Cheeseburger
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Hip-Hop, Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Dodge Ball.' Action & Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'The League' & "How I Met Your Mother
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   Cancun, Mexico
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Play FIFA
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Beating Arrowhead to go to state last year
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend Loyola University on a soccer scholarship and study business.

HANGING WITH AUSTEN SCHWEINERT

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  ChIcken
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Hip-Hop, Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Kicking & Screaming, Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'The League' 
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Science
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   Cancun, Mexico
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Hang out with friends
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Beating Arrowhead to go to state last year
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college on a soccer scholarship and study business.

MARIA KORKOS-JULIA VITALE: THE MAKING OF A DOUBLES TEAM

MARIA KORKOS-JULIA VITALE:
THE MAKING OF A DOUBLES TEAM

Did you ever wonder how a coach puts together a doubles team? I did. So I asked Brookfield East girls tennis coach Linda Lied.

Lied’s team has been to Team State six times, including the last four in a row. Four girls also made it to Individual State this season - Emily Horneffer (who was featured in Preps2Pros.net last fall) and Allison Brankle made it in singles, Brankle as a special qualifier.

But this feature is about the doubles team who also qualified with Horneffer - Maria Korkos and Julia Vitale - two girls as different as you can get, but who worked well together on the tennis court.

Neither Korkos nor Vitale played on the varsity as freshman, in fact. Vitale wasn't even on the tennis team, as she was in the Spartans volleyball program.

Korkos, a senior, played three seasons on the varsity, getting promoted her sophomore year. She went to state three times in her career as part of the East doubles team, with three different partners.

She initially qualified for state as a sophomore with Sabrina Zhong, going 1-1 after finishing the year with a 17-7 record.

"As the year rolled around, they kept getting better," Lied said about Maria's sophomore year. "A lot of it was due to her. Sabrina was real quiet and Maria is the opposite of that. Maria would say 'We are not going to lose this.' and Sabrina would play up to the level with her. They were a great little doubles team and they did very well. When we put them on the court, we knew they were going to win."

Then as a junior she teamed with Carly Wolff, went 1-1 at state and finished the year with a 10-3 record. This season she teamed with Vitale, lost in the first round at state - 6-2,7-6(4) - and finished with a 14-8 record.

They each took a different road to get where they are today.

Korkos, one of three varsity captains along with Brankle and Horneffer, started out as a youngster, playing at the Western Racquet Club right up until high school.

"I knew Maria since she was little since we were members of the Western Racquet Club," Lied said. "She came to my camp as a 7th or 8th grader and I got to see her play. Her freshman year I had her on JV, but I did call her up for one match to play singles at the time. I knew she was real tenacious, feisty, liking to win. I wanted to get a chance to see her.

"We laughed about that first match. She had a great first set then she became complacent. The girl kept some balls back and Maria was mad at her. And she said I just want to be done. I said no, you are done when you win this match. She won that match and she's been winning ever since."

That desire to win is what got Maria turned on to tennis.

"I definitely have a  competitive edge to me," she said. "Especially when I got into high school. I want to win and that got me going. I'm definitely the most hyped person on the team. I get really excited for matches, being able to accomplish my goals.

"My accomplishments, my winnings motivated me to keep playing. When I got to varsity, coach put me right into doubles and the strategy of it intrigued me. Singles has a lot of power and I don't necessarily have power, while doubles is played at the net. So I liked the switch."

Vitale, on the other hand, also started young, playing on the Elm Grove courts.

"I started when I was a little toddler, I used to play with my dad (Steve)," Julia said. "Then I played in some of the Elm Grove tennis programs. My dad always won, but now it might be more neck and neck."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Senior Maria Korkos has been to the individual state tournament three years years in a row with three different partners.

Julia, who also plays the outfield for the Spartans softball team, played volleyball as a freshman, but got cut her sophomore season.

"When I got cut from volleyball my sophomore year I went to tennis and just kept going with it," she said. "It seemed to fit better than anything else."

So Vitale was pretty much a mystery to Lied when she showed up.

"Julia came out her sophomore year after being cut from volleyball," Lied recalled. "What we do, when they come in off of volleyball, we just presume they are not a tennis player and put them on our JV Blue (No. 2 JV team behind JV Red). The coach called me and said Julia can't be on JV Blue, she's too good. I said 'Great, we'll send her up to Red.' The 'Red' coach was very high on her.

"When she came out this year for tennis I was immediately impressed with her. So really she came to my attention this year. It was a great jump up for her from Red up to varsity. Every day at practice she kept doing things I was hoping for No. 1 doubles to do."

The player Lied was hoping to team up with Maria at No. 1 just wasn't clicking, she was intimidated by it, so her next best player was Julia."

Lied then talked about what made Maria and Julia a good doubles team.

"For doubles, the first and most important thing is chemistry," she said. "Julia is probably one of the nicest people you will meet in the world. And then you have the little feisty Maria, who has that little 'Greek' in her and wants to win.

"The chemistry I was a little concerned about because Maria can be intimidating and I didn't want Julia not to play her best tennis because she was afraid Maria would get mad at her. But that's when Maria's seniority came into play - really she is a nice little girl too. That's when I said you girls have to fit and talk to each other and understand each others' personalities. They need to work well together and I watched them do that.

(Maria) really has all her teammates’ backs. She’s energetic, She’s feisty, she’s all of those. If you want to describe her in one word. She’s ‘driven.’ Julia is just a sweetheart; just genuinely nice. There is not a mean bone in her body. She comes out, willing to work hard. But when her match is over, I’m sure her opponents will tell you she is really nice.”

--- Coach Linda Lied

"Maria can get really excited and Julia is not as competitive - her mother (Cathy) says 'I don't have a competitive bone in me and neither does Julia' - but the two of them (Maria/Julia) found a way to become competitive together. They've done some really great things this year. They're getting better, every time they hit the court."

Lied then talked about the strategy of playing doubles.

"The net is instinct. But you have to know where the ball is going to be," she said. "I find that if I can find some good athletes - Julia is a very good athlete and so is Maria - and put two good athletes in there and teach them what to expect - then they become instinctive and really go after it. When they get confidence, then they really do take charge and they are at the net cutting balls off.

"You have to have a plan on the serve and the return. But as far as doubles for anything in tennis it's a really different game. You immediately have to constantly react to your opponent. In tennis all you have is the player on the return and that's just reaction."

Both players enjoy playing doubles.

"I like team sports and doubles tennis is the closest thing you can get to it," Julia said. "Doubles has different strategy. Doubles is more of a race (to the net), while singles is about I want to try to get this shot."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Junior Julia Vitale, a former volleyball player, and current outfielder on the softball team, teamed with Maria Korkos to qualify for state in her first season on the varsity.

Korkos also pointed out the doubles strategy.

"You have to know where the other person (opponent) is at all times and where your partner is. We have pretty good hands, so we're both pretty good at the net. We usually end up by the net because we think that is the best way when to end up with points."

Korkos is one of three captains, along with Brankle, the other senior, and Horneffer, a junior.

"Maria is definitely a 'take-charge' captain. That's her personality," Lied said. "She's the one to scold a fellow player ('Why don't you have your shoes on. Why didn't call us and tell us you were going to be late.'). Maria has always been a take charge person since her sophomore year."

Brankle keeps everyone organized and Horneffer observes and waits for her time next year. Lied also talked about Vitale's role next season.

"Julia one of only two seniors back. She's a sweet and kind girl. When she takes the court she will be ready to go. But she will be her own type of leader."

Lied then talked about both girls off the court.

"Maria is a really sweet girl, but she is one of the first ones to go at me if I'm being a little harsh ('Coach, come on. She's fine'). She really has all her teammates' backs. She's energetic, She's feisty, she's all of those. "She wants to do very well in school. If you want to describe her in one word. She's 'driven.'

"Julia is just a sweetheart; just genuinely nice. There is not a mean bone in her body. She comes out, willing to work hard. But when her match is over, I'm sure her opponents will tell you she is really nice. Anyone would notice - she is just a sweetheart."

And Korkos and Vitale have indeed given the Spartans a sweetheart doubles team this year.

HANGING WITH MARIA KORKOS

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Pasta
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Alternative
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Ferris Bueller's Day Off. '  Superhero & Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Stranger Things'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Science
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   Greece
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:   Read, Hang with family & friends
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield Central
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   First match at Nielsen Tennis Stadium sophomore year at state
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college, study Engineering and play club tennis

HANGING WITH JULIA VITALE

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Spaghetti
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Justin Timberlake, Alternative
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Spy', Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Big Bang Theory'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   English
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Door County
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:   Play violin, hang with friends.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield Central
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Lost first set to Brookfield Central, but rallied to win the match, including 7-5 in third set this year.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college and study Graphic Design

SOPHIA SUN SHINES ON LANCERS GOLF TEAM

SOPHIA SUN SHINES
ON LANCERS GOLF TEAM

Brookfield Central senior golfer Sophia Sun spent the past two summers practicing her craft at - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

While the rest of the prep golfers from all over the state spent their summers on the golf course, sharpening their game, Sophia has spent the last three summers, including the last two at MIT, studying Neurosciences.

"I haven't spent a summer at home the last three summers," Sun said. "I was at a math class in Texas and then two summers at MIT. I did research in Neurosciences at a Harvard lab. It did take away from my game and I wasn't able to practice as much when I was there, but it was a really great opportunity."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Brookfield Central senior Sophia Sun spent her last three summers away, including the last two at MIT studying Neurosciences.

Sophia talked about her slow starts for the Lancers the past few years.

"My first or second mini-meet I had my highest score - which was a 47. The rest of my scores were 40 and below. It was hard to get in that round because I wasn't used to being in a competitive setting. Even when I did get to hit balls over the summer - it was at the range not on a course."

Coach Brian Scrobel talked about Sophia's adjustment when she returned home at the end of the summer.

"It was a difficult thing for Sophia the last two years - she's brilliant in the classroom - and spent time in Massachusetts at MIT at these match camps," he said. "That has taken a lot out of her golf preparation. When she is in the classroom in the summer, most of the people are working on their golf game.

"She always has to play catch-up. Last year when she came back her practice was accelerated for her to get back into 'golf shape.' It happened this year. She struggled a little, but we got her back to that comfort level and she's certainly done a nice job of getting comfortable again.

Despite her slow starts, it didn't effect Sun's overall performance the last four years.

She earned second-team All-Greater Metro Conference her first three years (2014-16) and she earned first-team all-conference honors this fall.

During her career the Lancers won the GMC Championship all four years and also qualified for state (3rd, 6th tie, 7th, 7th) with Sun a member of those teams.

This year she tied for 18th with 81 first round and tied for 23rd with an 87 for an overall score of 168.

Playing all 18 holes she was with 51st with a 184 last season. She only played the first 9 holes her first two years at state. She tied for 73rd with a 100, splitting her appearance with Alyssa Borowski (110) her freshman season (2014). In her sophomore year (2015) she was 71st with a 99 on the first 9 holes, teaming up with Alex Lee (106).

Like a lot of athletes, Sophia first got exposed to her sport through her father (Jian).

"My dad was so involved in golf and I would just go the range with him," she recalled. "I would grab the 7-iron - and that's all I would hit - his big steel 7-iron."

Scrobel first met Sophia at Wisconsin Hills Middle School.

"We had a golf unit in phy ed and she had a pretty natural golf swing," he said. "We kind of talked about whether she had played golf before - and she hadn't - she was a swimmer in middle school.

She is one of those charismatic people that no matter what she is going to do in life, she is going to be successful. She is going to make everyone else around her successful just because of the way she makes them feel.”

--- Coach Brian Scrobel

A lot of power comes out of that 5-foot, 4 inch frame.

"Technically, my long game (is my strength)," Sophia said. "I can hit it pretty far off the tee. A lot of time I can drive it really far and then just wedge it on the green. Every time I hit my driver down the fairway, it looks like my ball goes far. When I'm pushing my cart down the fairway I realize how much farther my ball goes, especially this year. Last year I hit like 200 max. This year I hit it 245, which is a lot for me.

Sophia also works on the mental part of the game.

"Staying in the right mindset," she said. "I think 18 holes is pretty long. So concentrating on every shot is important."

Looking back, Scrobel remembered when he first thought Sophia was going to be something special.

"The thing about Sophia is she is so intrinsically motivated," he said. "Everything she does, she does with laser-like focus and a tremendous amount of passion which equates to becoming a strong golfer.


Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Sophia Sun earned All-Greater Metro Conference honors four years, including first-team her senior season.

"As a coach she is a joy to have at practice," he said. "She is able to be focused. She is able to laugh and giggle and make everyone else around her feel better, even when they've struggled a little bit.

"She is one of those charismatic people that no matter what she is going to do in life, she is going to be successful. She is going to make everyone else around her successful just because of the way she makes them feel. She is a very good personality to have out there."

Having closed out her career this week at her fourth and final state tournament, Sun found time for some reflection.

"There are a lot of times I get sentimental," she said. "Oh it's our last conference match or it's our last tournament at state that I will ever play competitively. I'm looking forward to making the most of it all.

"Golf will always be a part of my life. I'm always going to look forward to playing with my dad. He always says it will be nice when I can play golf with business people."

Just don't beat them too bad, Sophia, if you want to make a sale.


HANGING WITH SOPHIA SUN

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Blueberry Bagels
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Good Will Hunting.'  Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Grey's Anatomy'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   New York
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Going outside, listening to music
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Franklin
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Beat Franklin at 2016 sectional in a playoff to qualify for state.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college and study Neuroscience

IT’S NOT ‘A DAY AT THE BEACH’ FOR WAUWATOSA EAST’S CHLOE TOME

IT'S NOT ALWAYS  'A' DAY AT THE BEACH FOR TOSA EAST'S CHLOE TOME

Wauwatosa East junior Chloe Tome plans on spending her time in college on the beach - when she's not in the classroom, of course.

Tome (pronounced toe-me) won't be listening to music and sunbathing, but she will be playing beach volleyball.

Tome is an outstanding volleyball player for the Red Raiders. She started as a freshman and earned honorable mention All-Greater Metro Conference honors.

Then last season she was captain, Most Valuable Player, first-team All-GMC and honorable mention All-State and All-Area as an outside hitter.

"When they told me (I was first-team all-conference) I was so excited," Tome recalled. "I was ecstatic. I had no idea. I never played to be first-team all-conference but it showed my hard work is paying off. They the All-State and All-Area honors came in and that was just really cool."

But Tome spent a good portion of the summer playing beach volleyball and was successful at it. Chloe and her partner, Elizabeth Gregorski of Appleton Xavier, compiled a 17-1 record and finished second in USA Beach Volleyball Tournament. She also finished 11th out of 20 teams with Grace Manns of Fort Atkinson High School in August.

And that is her goal after high school - attend college, receive a scholarship to play beach volleyball and study engineering or journalism. She has already made visits to schools in California and Florida.

Playing beach volleyball has helped her indoor game.

"Beach helps me so much; being in the sand is so deep, it's harder to move and jump," Chloe said. "So when I do come indoor my vertical increases. I'm so much faster and my hits are stronger because I can jump so much higher.

"It really helps me with reading because there are two of you (in beach) and there is a lot more court to cover. So you have to be able to read (the court) or else you're never going to get there and it helps in indoor."

The fact that Chloe has had a successful path in volleyball is not surprising, since her father - and her coach - Gary Tome - was an All-American Club Volleyball play at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse and he mom, Erica, was an outstanding basketball player.

"I like that my dad played and me and my dad are really close," she said. "And my mom is really close. My mom played, but she was a really big basketball player, though.

"I like the randomness of the game. You are never sitting, you are constantly moving. Anything can happen and upsets are so likely. It's so competitive and I love team sports. I don't like individual sports."


Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Junior outside hitter Chloe Tome was first-team all-conference and honorable mention all-state and all-area last year.

Chloe got an early start in her career.

"I've been involved ever since I can remember," she said. "I grew up in volleyball and I started playing when I was 5. My dad got me into it. After school (Longfellow) I started playing beach and then I started playing club when I was 11 until high school.

Gary knew he had something special in Chloe at an early age.

"Even when she was little she had a little different mindset on the court. She kind of had an edge," Gary said. "She played with a chip on her shoulder. She always wanted to take the big swing, always wanted to make the hard pass.

“One of her biggest pluses is her competitiveness. I never have to say anything to her. She’s just a competitor. Whether it’s a mundane drill in practice or under the big lights. She has a good IQ and I can challenge her in different ways”

--- Coach Gary Tome

"She had that energy, she was a real competitor. With all the teams she's played on she's had that fiery attitude. ever since she was little she's kind of had it."

Chloe likes being the outside hitter. It's suits her game just fine.

"I like being able to play defense and offense because I'm the one who can be able to terminate and put the ball away," she said. "I can also be the one to help set up the play and I can fix plays.

"So I think that's a big strength - being able to read where the hit is going to go, get there before it goes down. So it's a really good all-around position. I enjoy that."

She does want to improve her game, though.

"I would like to get better at blocking because I get used too much,"  she said. "They (the opponents) hit it and it goes off my hands. If I was stronger blocking, I could get more. But I think I can grow that way. and in my overall game, just grow. Get physically stronger, smarter and watch video (of my game)."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- An outstanding beach volleyball player, Chloe Tome finished second in a national tournament last summer.

Gary also talked about Chloe's strengths and the areas she needs to get better at.

"One of her biggest pluses is her competitiveness," Gary said. "I never have to say anything to her. She's just a competitor. Whether it's a mundane drill in practice or under the big lights. She has a good IQ and I can challenge her in different ways.

"However, she needs to be a really cerebral hitter. It's up to her to become more of a dynamic athlete. She needs to keep getter stronger, getting more explosive."

Chloe was then asked the million dollar question. What's it like to play for your dad.

"I love it because I know I'm getting a good coach," she said. "I've had so many great coaches and I've learned something new from all of them. But my dad being there can always connect with me on more personal levels.

"He knows me when I'm struggling or he knows my little hitches that I have to get out. He's coached me since I could walk. I have had other coaches for club, but he has been my official beach volleyball coach.

"He's the one who brought me into the game so I train with him unofficially and he was my official indoor coach. He came here before my freshman year so he could coach me and my siblings (12-year old twins Max and Lilly).

Chloe knows that her father won't play favorites.

"I really like it because in our conference - which is a very tough conference and I know he is the one who will really push me and drive me to get me into college to play this sport. I know he is going to lead me there and challenge me.

"It can be hard sometime with me playing and I'm his daughter. It makes me work harder to prove I'm not just playing because my dad's the coach. He's instilled this in me - 'If you slack, you won't play.' I really enjoy it."

Gary, of course, has been asked the same question.

"When she asked me if it was OK we do this, I told her she is just another kid," he said. "But I've showed her some 'tough love.' I expect more.

"My feedback is the same. As a freshman she beat out seniors but I  thought it was because she clearly established herself. It's been great. I get to see her everyday as opposed to coaching somewhere else where I never see her. It's exciting! I get the best seat in the house to coach everybody."


HANGING WITH CHLOE TOME

  • FAVORITE FOOD:​ Any kind of chicken
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Popular Music and Rock
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Unbroken' - Humorous and Inspirational movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Friends'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Science
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Hermosa Beach, California
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Hang in friends or siblings
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Wauwatosa West
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Beating Tosa West before a packed house last year.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college, playing beach volleyball and studying Engineering or Journalism.

ON NOW THE FUN BEGINS

Here are some random thoughts on the prep season as some teams have already started the post-season.

I saw my first prep football game of the fall Friday – I have been rehabbing my left leg and can’t get around too well – and it was a doozie, as two-time defending champion Brookfield Central beat Brookfield East at East, 22-14.

The win left Central unbeaten (6-0) and dropped East (5-1) into second place with two games left.

Both Central and East fans packed the place and you had to walk blocks to find a parking spot. The place was rockin’.

Central has won the last two conference titles while East has won the last two post-season meetings.

In the next two weeks, the Lancers host Sussex Hamilton and travel to Menomonee Falls while the Spartans are at Germantown and host West Allis Hale.

Good luck to BC Coach Jed Kennedy & BE coach Ben Farley the rest of the way.

___________________________________________________

OTHER POST-SEASON SCHEDULES

GIRLS GOLF – Has already started with the regional this week (Sept. 27-28) and the sectional Oct. 3. The state tournament is at University Ridge in Madison on Oct. 9-10.

GIRLS TENNIS – The Subsectional is Monday, Oct. 2 or Tuesday, Oct. 3 and the Sectionals are Wednesday, Oct. 4 or Thursday, Oct. 5. The State Individual Tournament – is Thursday, Oct. 12, Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14 at Nielsen Stadium in Madison. The Girls State Tennis Team Championships are Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21 at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.

BOYS/GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY – The Sectional is Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21, while State is Saturday, Oct. 28, at Ridges Golf Course at Wisconsin Rapids.

BOYS SOCCER – Regional begins Tuesday, Oct. 17, Thursday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, October 21. Sectional follows on Thursday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 28.

The State Tournament is Thursday, Nov. 2, Friday, Nov. 3 and Saturday, Nov. 4 at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL – Regional is Thursday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 21 and Sectional is Thursday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 28. The State Tournament is Thursday, Nov. 2, Friday, Nov. 3 and Saturday, Nov. 4 at Resch Center in Green Bay.

BOYS VOLLEYBALL – Regional begins – Friday, Oct. 27 and Sectional is Tuesday, Oct. 31 and Thursday, Nov. 2. The State Tournament is Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11 at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING Sectionals are Friday, Nov. 3 (Diving) and Saturday, Nov. 4 (Swimming). The State Meet is Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11 at the  Natatorium at UW-Madison.

 

IKE’S JACK HIMMELSPACH FINALLY GETS TO CARRY THE BALL

IKE'S JACK HIMMELSPACH FINALLY GETS TO CARRY THE FOOTBALL



So far New Berlin Eisenhower junior Jack Himmelspach has finally had a chance to show what he can do with a football in his hands.

Himmelspach tops the Woodland West first-place, state-ranked Lions in rushing through the first 6 games and is a key part of their running attack. He began his football career as a youngster and couldn't play running back because he was too big and there are weight limits in the junior program.

But currently at 6-feet, 2 inches, 195 pounds, Himmelspach has finally taken advantage of the chance to play running back and it is paying off for the Lions.

And Lions head coach Matt Kern has been pleased with the results.

"His style has really been a great addition for our team," Kern said. "I think if you look at our team the last couple of years, we're known for a very good passing game. We've got good players at the skill positions on the perimeter. Joey Scaffidi was our main ball-carrier the last couple of years and he was a very talented kid, but just built differently.

"So we knew with Jack our running game was going to look different. We didn't know quite how different it would look, but we're seeing as the year goes on we're having a more 'power' type back. It's giving a really nice compliment to the rest out our offense."

Himmelspach has carried the ball 35 times more than the next runner and he has 487 yards rushing - a 6.8 yards per carry average - and 7 touchdowns. He has been a consistent performer for the Lions, but had 3 games that have stood out so far.

In a huge 38-14 win over Pewaukee, Himmelspach rushed 21 times for 141 yards (6.7 ave.) and a touchdown. In a 31-0 win over Greendale he rushed for 118 yards in 19 carries (6.2 ave.) and 3 touchdowns. Against crosstown rival New Berlin West he rushed 9 times for 93 yards (10.3 ave.) and 2 touchdowns.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh - Junior running back Jack Himmelspach led New Berlin Eisenhower in rushing through the first 6 games of the season.

He has been an excellent complement to quarterback Bryce Miller, who has 10 touchdown passes and running back Jake Belongia who is a dual threat with 7 rushing touchdowns and 4 touchdown catches. Leading wide receiver Steve Halusan also has 4 touchdown receptions and leads the Lions with 22 catches.

Kern explained some of Himmelspach's strengths as a running back.

"He has an underrated ability to make the first guy miss," he said. "I think he is seen as a straight-line runner, but he has a little shiftiness to him in the hole that shows up on film. He very rarely loses yards, even when he's hit in the backfield. And if it's a play that's not blocked the way we want it to, he will usually get a couple yards out of it. He's almost always falling forward and that is something you are looking for. He can turn 3-yard runs into 5-yard runs with a little extra effort at the end of plays.

"When a hole has been there, he hits it hard. He finds the hole. He's got really good vision. He's more of a natural for the position than we thought he was last year."

Himmelspach got into organized football in third grade with the New Berlin Generals, but he played guard, tackle and center because he was too big to carry the ball.

"Running back, I like it a lot," he said. "From third grade on I always wanted to play. I would try to cut weight so I could play it."

He’s already starting to grow in that (leadership) role. He’s not a loud boisterous type of kid, but he definitely has confidence. He definitely has the respect of his teammates. I think he will grow nicely into that role next year, I have no doubt about it.”

--- Coach Matt Kern

Himmelspach stuck with the game and he explained his thought process as he developed physically.

"Overall it was the team aspect of it," he said. "I was never overly athletic until 7th and 8th grade. My teammates - I had been with the same guys since third grade essentially - that's probably best part of it for me."

Eisenhower runs a spread offense, a running back and 4 wide receivers.

"It's not one offense, it's like a complex thing," Himmelspach said. "Probably this year it's been mostly passing. But we knew if we have enough success on the ground it would help us. I can also catch the ball since I have also played tight end. I've had experience catching the ball back at the beginning of 6th grade. I was one of the bigger eligible guys, so they played me at tight end."

But Himmelspach didn't hesitate when asked what part of being a running back he liked best - blocking, carrying the ball or catching the ball.

"Carrying the ball," he said. "I like to kind of take on the contact. I don't shy away from contact like some guys who run out of bounds and you end up losing yards. I like to lower my shoulder, get the guy on the ground and get the extra yard. That's something I've been trying to work on this year, more than every other year. Taking the hit and delivering the hit too. I would probably make a move, but decide what would have the best chance of breaking the tackle."

Being a junior, Himmelspach was asked what he wanted to get better at.

"I would like to get a little stronger," he said. "My agility, that's something else I need to work on. Being able to run through people can get you only so far. So I need to get some speed and agility in there."

"I think it's (leadership) is really important," he said. "(If done correctly), the young guys will feel that they are really a part of the team. We'll work together and accomplish so much more in the end.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh - New Berlin Eisenhower junior running back Jack Himmelspach is finally getting a chance to carry the ball and the results have been excellent.

Kern, on the other hand, hesitated when asked what Himmelspach had to work on.

"I don't know if there is anything that stands out at this stage," he said. "We'll sit down and start talking to him about goals for his senior season. We'll want him to be a bigger part of our defense next season. He could definitely help us on defense but we have the luxury of letting him play offense and save his energy there.

"A true two-way player next year is something we'll put on his plate. Also just continue to improve as a receiver. He already is a pretty good receiver, but we just don't need him in that role. Next year we might ask him to catch more balls. That's something we'll ask him to work on."

Kern looks back and recalled Jack's early years.

"He did a nice job for us at the youth level, so I knew of him at the 7th and 8th grade level. But it was not a running back until last year. He had a great season as a JV running back last year so we were watching him closely last season. We knew he had a chance to be a nice player for us at the varsity level.

"It was happening gradually throughout the JV season, especially towards the end of the JV season - the last couple games it was clear he was a man among boys at that level. We were pretty much giving him the ball on almost every play. We thought this is something we're going to have to take a serious look at next year."

The Lions have 5 senior captains, but Jack shared his thoughts on leadership.

"I don't think it's (being a leader) limited to being a captain," he said. "The captains are elected by the team, so they're probably the best leaders. But I think anyone can step up to be a leader no matter if they're a captain or not. Some of the guys under the captains are great leaders, some of the linemen. I'm working on being a better leader to the younger guys who are looking up to us."

Kern agreed with Himmelspach's assessment.

"Most definitely. He's already starting to grow in that role," he said. "He's not a loud boisterous type of kid, but he definitely has confidence. He definitely has the respect of his teammates. I think he will grow nicely into that role next year, I have no doubt about it."

Getting back to this season, Himmelspach was excited about the Lions' fast start.

"Coach has preached that he's seen teams get to this point in the schedule and they kind of get bored," he said. "Our goal is to aim higher. We've beaten good teams by big margins, now we have to beat lesser teams by bigger margins. Our goal is to keep a higher level no matter what part of the season you're in."

Kern then described Himmelspach's development.

"That's the nice thing about coaching high school ball, there is always an uncertainty about every season," he said. "Some of the kids who you only see at the JV level, to see them grow so much in just a year. Then transfer all those great things that they were doing at the sub-levels into the varsity level. It's been exciting for us for sure."


HANGING WITH JACK HIMMELSPACH

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Pizza
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  '80'S Rock
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Tommy Boy.' Action movies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Last Man Standing
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: New York
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Play video games ('Madden Football').
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  New Berlin West
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Beat New Berlin West last basketball game on JV.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college, play football and be a physical therapist.

















FOR CENTRAL’S MIRANDA WUCHERER VOLLEYBALL’S ALWAYS BEEN HER GAME

FOR MIRANDA WUCHERER, VOLLEYBALL HAS ALWAYS BEEN HER GAME




Ever since she first started playing volleyball, Brookfield Central's Miranda Wucherer knew this was what she was going to do.

"I like the team aspect of it and how you can do so many things that can impact the game," Wucherer said. "I like the feel of it. From a very young age, I knew this is what I was going to do."

Miranda's mom, who passed away when she was 7 years old, and her mom's sisters were really into the sport, as her aunts played in college.

"At a young age I was in the gym. I started in fifth grade at St. Joseph's in Wauwatosa. Then I got into club when I was 11.

Miranda has done her mother (Wendy) proud, as last season she earned All-State and All-Greater Metro Conference honors and was named GMC Player of the Year, the first Lancer to ever earn that honor.

When Miranda was 6 years old she went to the Jr. Lancers summer camps. Later on she was involved in the club volleyball scene and Central Scott Spiess was coaching there.

"She came to camp a few times and we kind of knew right away that we had something there," he said. "She had good athleticism and could do a lot of different things."

Wucherer (pronounced Wucker) started on the varsity as a freshman and helped the Lancers finish fourth with a 6-3 record in the GMC and 22-16 overall. She broke out as a sophomore, though.

"She started as a freshman, she was a little timid coming into new surroundings," Spiess recalled. "It took her a while to get comfortable. She played all the time, but she wasn't necessarily the 'go-to' player that she is today.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Senior Miranda Wucherer became the first Brookfield Central volleyball player to be named Greater Metro Conference Player of the Year last year.

"But she kind of broke out her sophomore year where she was becoming more offensive from an attacking standpoint as well as her setting was starting to get better and developing more."

Miranda earned second team All-GMC honors as a sophomore as the Lancers improved to third place with a 5-2 record and 13-7 overall.

The athletic Wucherer splits her time between setter and outside hitter. She talked about the transformation in her game since her freshman year.

"When I was a freshman I was just a setter. I wasn't really a hitter at all," she said. "I wanted to be strategic. I wanted to mess up the other team, play mind games. Setting is a completely different mindset. That's what I was doing.

"In hitting you're going to score, you not going to set up other people. It's your turn to terminate the ball. You have to get in a different mindset. When I'm in the back row setting, it's all about setting. I have to know 'What are my matchups? What am I doing?' In the front row it's 'Where can I score? Where am I going with the ball.' I'm always looking through the net. I go from offensive hitting (as an outside hitter) to helping my team to go after it (as a setter)."

Spiess talked about her versatility.

"She has a really strong volleyball IQ," he said. "She really understands the game from both perspectives. I think being able to do both things, helps her in the other. From a setting perspective she knows where to put the ball to help the hitters get in a good position to score. The counterpoint to that - as an attacker she knows what to look for, what spots to hit to place the ball to cause trouble for the defense."

She’s a fierce, fierce competitor, but to be able to keep that cool demeanor she has to exude that confidence to her teammates, so they have that comfort level that they have one of the best players in the state on their side. It’s as if she doesn’t get rattled, then they don’t get rattled type of thing.”

--- Coach Scott Spiess

Spiess talked about that IQ when asked about her strengths.

"She has a great understanding of the overall game and how it can be impacted in so many different ways," he said. "From a physical standpoint - her arm - she's always had a fast arm. Which in volleyball equates to velocity on the ball. Which is then scoring points. With her jump serve and the speed of her attacking arm are something that is quite impressive when compared to other players. We call it 'using it like a whip' and she definitely whips it."

Miranda talked about how much her quickness helps her.

"If I'm going forward (as a setter) and the middle follows me, I have to go backwards quickly. I have to send the ball in the opposite direction," she said.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Miranda Wucherer was named first-team All-State last season.

She also talked about her court vision.

"Seeing the court, the other side, but I'm also seeing my side of the court," she pointed out. "Knowing what are their strengths, kind of just breaking down the game as the game goes so quickly. I'm still being able to make those decisions and see the floor."

With the rest of the season in front of her and Northern Kentucky University in the future, Miranda knows she has parts of her game to work on.

"Every year I feel I can get better, no matter what it is," she said. "I know I'm super athletic and I know that helps me a ton being undersized (5-feet, 9 inches). But I'm always working on all my shots, working on my hand placements. still reading the ball. I feel like one of the biggest things I need to work on is defense because I'm more of an offensive player.

"But going to every practice I want to get better at anything I can. I'm trying to soak everything in instead of saying 'Hey, I'm good at this.' I want to get better at everything I can, especially going on to play at the next level."

Spiess agreed with his star player about improving her defense.

"As a setter she wants to get in there on her second touch," he said. "But there is a ball coming to her the first time and we want her to be able to get the ball up and trust her teammates to make the ball better. She has to think outside of that the mindset.

"She's a fierce, fierce competitor, but to be able to keep that cool demeanor. She has to exude that confidence to her teammates, so they have that comfort level that they have one of the best players in the state on their side. It's as if she doesn't get rattled, then they don't get rattled type of thing."

"When Scott told me I couldn't believe it. I was in shock," she said of her Player of the Year and her All-State honors. "I was like hoping I would be first-team all-conference. When he told me that and all the accolades started coming out, I was like 'Wow I actually did that.' I never came in actually thinking I would do that.

"It showed the hard work and all the practices and how my teammates helped me so much to get to that point. It's a team sport and without my teammates that would never have happened. It was crazy and I was excited it happened and I hope I'll be able to do it again this year."

Miranda is one of three captains this year, along with Cami Herman and Sara Ozolins.

"Each of our captains bring something different to the table," she said. I'm the one who is going to hold everyone accountable. I lead by example, show hustle and smarts. I hope people can see that in my game.

"I try to lead anyway I can. I try to get better as a leader. I've played a lot of positions and I try to help other people on the floor. I'm always trying to learn other people's positions that can help me on the floor."

Miranda was asked if all her accolades helped her confidence coming into this season.

"It helps a lot, but it also puts the pressure on you because knowing last year I could fly under the radar," she said. "Going into this year I know every team has their eye on me. My confidence is there, I know I can do the things I did. It's like taking every game, game by game, not worrying about the outside stuff, just focus on playing volleyball."

Spiess felt it was a positive and talked about her conference honors as well.

"Last year we sat in the all-conference meeting and I threw her name in the hat for Player of the Year," he said. "But we finished in fourth place - typically it comes from a player on the first or second-place team. It was almost unanimous from the other coaches in the league. She's a do- everything player. Even the matches we weren't winning she had a huge impact on the match.

"Once that happened and she was named first team all-state - those were kids she played with on the club level in the off-season - it did help her confidence that her name was mentioned in the same breath as those other big-time players."


HANGING WITH MIRANDA WUCHERER

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Chocolate Chip Pancakes
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Popular Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Remember the Titans' - Sports movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Friends'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  AP Economics
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Utah
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Sleep
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East, Divine Savior Holy Angels
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Being the first Lancer to win the Greater Metro Conference Player of the Year honor.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend Northern Kentucky University, play volleyball and study sports business.

















CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER HAS KEYED LANCERS’ ALEX MIRSBERGER

CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER HAS KEYED LANCERS' ALEX MIRSBERGER



The chip that Brookfield Central's Alex Mirsberger wears on his shoulder has really paid off for the senior midfielder on the Lancers' soccer team.

When asked why he stayed with soccer after starting to play in the local recreational league at 7 years old, Mirsberger laughed.

"As you can tell, I'm not the biggest person (5-feet, 8 inches, 145 pounds)," he said. "But it's not the size of the dog, but the fight in it. I've always had that little chip on my shoulder.

"I was pretty good early and I thought I could really see myself getting better and better."

Mirsberger, who earned playing time on the varsity as a freshman, played so well as a sophomore he earned honorable mention on the Greater Metro Conference team.

But last year he really cashed in, not only earning first-team All-GMC honors, but he was a first-team All-State selection as well.

Look out for this season.

"This year my confidence is huge. I knew I had a successful season," he said. "But I didn't really realize I would make all-state."

Lancers coach Dan Makal was right to the point when he talked about if he thought making All-State changed Alex's attitude.

"Nope," he said. "He is naturally a confident kid. His demeanor hasn't changed. Who he is hasn't changed. He just keeps on doing what he does.

"He's a really humble player. He always looks for his teammates first. His success he will probably tell you is getting his teammates working really hard."

As a midfielder, Makal nailed it when I asked Mirsberger about his role.

"My main role is to control the game, making other players look good," he said. "Make sure I get them the ball; control the game in general. Over the years the attacking part of it has gone forward more. My freshman year I played further back, but as things went on I played higher up the field."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Last year as a junior, Brookfield Central's Alex Mirsberger earned first-team All-State honors.

Alex did have an interesting response when asked whether he would score a goal or earn an assist.

"I think it's pretty even," he laughed. "But that's a tough question."

Makal talked about playing the midfielder position with the Lancers.

"We kind of craft some different things for the guys," he said. "Alex is one. Playing the game instead of trying to play the formation or the system helps the rest of the team out. I think its been really massive for us."

Makal also spoke highly about Mirsberger's talents.

"He's explosive. When he has the ball he's always dangerous," he said. "He moves it very well. His ability is to process really well. He never seems to run out of gas."

Alex also talked about the positive side of his game.

"Being able to see the ball in play," he said. "Also playing with a chip on your shoulder, you're able to work as hard as you can, but still manage to stay into the game mentally, while working your hardest."

Mirsberger was honest about his speed.

Alex is pretty dynamic and I think that’s what helps him out. He scored some pretty big goals for us last year. He had a couple game-winners. Those things stand out.”

--- Coach Dan Makal

"I'm fast, yes. But I'm not the fastest on the team," he said. "I just try to run as fast as I can. I do look at that as a strength - being able to get from one end of the field to the other (quickly)."

Alex, who has accepted a scholarship to play soccer at Marquette University, is already looking ahead when asked about what he needs to work on.

"Playing quicker than I am now," he said. "Once you get to the collegiate level that's when it's like a whole new step. Always playing quicker is huge for my game."

Makal recalled when he first saw Mirsberger play.

"It was the summer coming into his freshman year," he said. "He came to our Lancer Camp. He was small, but he was really fast. He was really good on the ball. I saw him play there and I was impressed.

" He's kind of fearless. There's players who are very agile. They have the ability to move while making decisions. Alex was really good at that from the get-go. I felt that he was a kid who would do really well playing at the varsity level as soon as possible and turn out to be a 4-year varsity player."

Makal knew had he something special with Alex and the Schweinert twins (Andrew and Austen).

"Midway through his freshman year we had a lot of young guys playing then," Makal said. "The Schweinerts were both on the team playing serious minutes and Alex as well. We saw the three of them putting in some really good work, playing a bunch of minutes.

"What was different about all three of them - Alex does his thing and the Schweinerts do their thing - is what makes it a good balance on the team. it's been helpful that they've had so many reps on the varsity level. To have freshman playing, it's not very common. This year we have two freshman on the team as well. That's good for us."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Senior Captain Alex Mirsberger uses his quickness and his ability to see the field  to key the Lancers' offense.

Mirsberger and the Schweinerts are now the senior team captains. Alex knows this a key part of his responsibility, but he feels there are more than three leaders on this team.

"I think it's (leadership) is really important," he said. "(If done correctly), the young guys will feel that they are really a part of the team. We'll work together and accomplish so much more in the end.

"All three captains have to be leaders, but every senior on the team is also a leader. Every junior is a leader. We're all leaders. We can learn from the freshmen also."

Makal knows Mirsberger will have to step up in is new role.

"He is going to have to change a little bit with people looking up to him more," he said. "In years past he could just focus on his game. But now he's kind of has to look out for others."

With Germantown and Wauwatosa West joining the Greater Metro Conference the competition should be better.

"It will be fun - we have no idea who they are - we never really played them," Mirsberger said. "It will be an adventure.

"We always have a team goal to win conference. We always in the top five spots. It's a big thing to put on your shoulders. It's a very competitive conference. The other teams will push you to do your best and that helps you in the post-season."

Mirsberger will, of course, be one of the keys to Central's success and Makal talked about what makes him special.

"Alex is pretty dynamic and I think that's what helps him," he pointed out. "He scored some pretty big goals for us last year. He had a couple game-winners. Those things stand out."

Not bad for a guy with a chip on his shoulder.


HANGING WITH ALEX MIRSBERGER

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Pizza
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  County Music and pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Ironman' movies. Action movies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Modern Family
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Puerto Rico
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV, Sit in hammock outside
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Beat Arrowhead in sectional final, 1-0, scoring the winning goal.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend Marquette University on a soccer scholarship and study business.

















FOR IKE’S BELLA PASSAMANI, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

FOR IKE'S BELLA PASSAMANI
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT




'You Don't Know What You've Got ('Til It's Gone)' is a song by 'Cinderella' which described Bella Passamani's swimming career at New Berlin Eisenhower at one point.

Passamani burst on the scene as a freshman, going to the WIAA State Tournament in 2014 in four events, including two relays. She was fourth in the 400 freestyle relay and tied for seventh in the 200 free relay. In the individual events, she was fifth in the 200 free and eighth in the 500 free.

With such a great start to her career, she was looking forward to her sophomore season.

But then it was gone.

"In May of my freshman year going into my sophomore year I started to feel pain in my hip when I was doing my club practices," she said. "We did a lot of running and I felt the pain."

So Passamani had an MRI which showed she had an impingement in her hip. She could have surgery to repair it or take a cortisone shot that would last six months and then have the surgery.

"I figured why not get the surgery over and done with," she said. "I was able to get back in the pool within three months, but I couldn't kick fully at that point. After six months I was back to normal swimming and I was able to recover pretty quickly."

Even though she was injured, Eisenhower swimming coach Alyssa Bauer had her on the sidelines.

"Even though she wasn't in the pool swimming, she was at practice every day helping us coach." Bauer said. "We called her the 'intern coach.' She had passion, even in that. We had one girl who couldn't do a flip turn, so Bella went home and researched and came back with a plan. She took that 'intern coach' as a big responsibility.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- After going to state as a freshman, Bella Passamani missed her sophomore season due to hip surgery. But she returned to state her junior year.

"I don't know that she had a big change, but being on the other side of the pool - being dry - let her appreciate being in the pool. When she came back her junior year she realized it was her passion whereas her freshman year she was just having fun and was really fast."

Bella recalled the situation.

"I got my surgery the second week of September. I was back on the pool deck in my crutches and my hip brace the next week," she said. "I helped out with the JV swimmers. It was very hard for me hearing all the varsity swimmers complaining about the sets 'Oh this is so hard.' I said I would give anything to be in that pool. For me, that was a turn of my mentality. I needed to be more positive and I need to be thankful for when I can get back in the pool, not take it for granted anymore.

"I think it was a blessing that I had all that go on at the time that I had it. You hear athlete's getting burned out all the time. That was a perfect time where I was not burned out because I had a little bit of a break. I think it actually worked out rather well."

Getting back in the pool her junior year worked out more than 'rather well' for Bella, as she helped Eisenhower finish fourth at the state meet.

Passamani won the 100 butterfly (56.27) and finished second in the 500 freestyle (5:04.66). She also placed second as part of the 200 medley relay and seventh in the 400 freestyle relay.

Bauer wasn't sure how Bella would respond after she missed her sophomore year.

"I didn't know what to expect when she came back, though I knew she came off a pretty good club season," Bauer said. "She was really excited to come in and swim. One of things that's really good about Bella she is really good in more than one event. Most of the season it was playing around with her events, seeing where she wanted to swim. The two she picked - 100 fly and 500 free - were kind of close together, so we talked about that. There was only one event in between them, with about a 15 minute break between them.

"Her whole mentality was different. She was happy to be in the water she picked the events she thought she would do well in and finished first in the fly and second in the 500 (at state)."

Bauer added that going to state as a freshman helped out Bella and she helped out the team when they went last season.

“If she has the lead she’s not going to give it up. If she falls behind she is going to fight back and do whatever she can to get the lead. She is my stubborn swimmer and she will do anything to get that lead. That makes her super special.”

--- Coach Alyssa Bauer

"I think it helped a lot. The year she went to state as a freshman, we had a couple seniors who were influential, very hard workers like she is," Bauer said. "They had outgoing personalities and didn't take things too seriously and I think it rubbed off on Bella a little bit.

"So when she was at state last year, she was one of the oldest - we only had juniors and under - it allowed her to step up and show the girls this is something we go to, we have a good time, we race and let the mental thing go."

Having gone to state as a freshman, Bella put a lot of pressure on herself coming back as a junior.

"It was pressure filled because I knew I couldn't take first place for granted," she said. "There are always people who come in and get faster, faster and faster. I couldn't automatically think I'm going to win again. I worked so hard in the pool to get back to where I was at. I was just trying to push myself so I could win again, so that way I wasn't expecting to win, I wasn't over-confident."

Bella had some doubts going into last year and Bauer had to give her a heart-to-heart.

"What if I don't make state. What if I do poorly. What if my hip prevents me from doing what I know I can do," Bella recalled. "Alyssa had to get me out of my mental funk. She told me 'Bella, you've done this before. You know how to swim. You can do this.'"

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Senior Bella Passamani is a team captain and one of the leaders on New Berlin Eisenhower's swim team this year.

Bella, who has been swimming since she was 4 years old, talked about her strengths.

"Overall, I'm a very good racer," she said. "If you put me in a heat of girls, I will not lose. I do not want to lose. Sometimes I do lose, but I know I tried my best. I try my very hardest to stay with girls, even though I know they're faster than me.

"I think that definitely works to my advantage. In looking at my state events - in the 100 fly I was neck and neck with everybody. I pulled ahead at the end, just because I wanted to beat them.

"At practices, I'm a very hard worker. I try my best day in and day out, just to push everybody else to go faster. I like to have competition to race during practice. They help push me to reach my potential. I do have an internal drive but other people bring that out in me. I try my very best to use other swimmers to help me."

Bauer agreed with Passamani and added what she would like her to work on.

"I describe her as a very stubborn swimmer - if she has the lead she's not going to give it up," Alyssa said. "If she falls behind she is going to fight back and do whatever she can to get the lead. We noticed that right away in her individual events. She is my stubborn swimmer and she will do anything to get that lead. That makes her super special.

"She's an extremely hard worker. She is not cocky and is willing to take advice. She doesn't go into the thing that she's the best - which is a good and bad thing. She's always willing to take a step back and think about what she can do to get even better than she already is.

"I would like to see her improve on her confidence. Going into a meet, she tends to look at the other girls and the big names she's used to racing. She needs to take over and believe how good she is. Her ability is exceeding her expectations."

Being a team captain along with seniors Emma Oleniczak and Maddie Mainwood, leadership is important to Passamani, but she is not one to throw her weight around.

"I feel like it's the backbone of the team," Bella said. "In the past our leaders have done a great job. I just want to follow in their footsteps. We're trying our best to keep the team positive. We've done a 'quote of the week' every week, doing everything we can to keep the team morale up. We've done a lot of team bonding.

"I feel that the captain has to lead by example. If the captains are negative that brings the rest of the team down. If the captains don't cheer, nobody else will cheer. It's really important because everybody follows them.

"I'm not somebody to overstep my boundaries. I try to do my best and show that I'm working hard and show that others will follow me. If they don't, that's when I'll call them out. We (other captains) work well together."

Bauer sees the progress Passamani is making.

"She's learning to be a good leader. The beginning of the season she was very nervous telling people what to do. She didn't think it was her place. The season has gone on and I've given her opportunities to step up and she is very good at it. She is good at doing that one-on-one. She's good at heart-to-heart."

The bottom line is this - Bella Passamani is where she wants to be.

"I have always just loved the water," Bella said. "I feel I have a natural feel for it. When I first started I wasn't always a great swimmer. There were people passing me. But I would go to practice and see my progress throughout the years. Why go to practice if you're not going to work hard.

"Over the years I built my way up to the top of the club program to beat some of the people ahead of me. I liked to go out and race. I just think it's really fun. I couldn't see myself doing any other sport."


HANGING WITH BELLA PASSAMANI

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Strawberry. Raspberry Smoothies
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Alternative Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Tangled. Every kind of movie.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Modern Family.'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Speech, Business.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Arizona.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Color, locker signs, coloring books.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Greenfield and Whitnall
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning 100 butterfly at State. Watching 300 breaststroke rally to beat Greenfield at Conference Relay meet.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend a mid-major D1 college to swim. Study Marketing, Sales, Accounting.

















TOSA WEST’S AUSTIN ERTL IS A BIG MAN WITH BIG GOALS

TOSA WEST'S AUSTIN ERTL
IS A BIG MAN WITH BIG GOALS



Wauwatosa West's junior lineman Austin Ertl is a young man who is very confident about his ability and his goals. Not surprising since the 6-feet, 2 inch, 297 pounder is a two-time All-Conference player with all the tools.

But Trojans' coach Matt Good sees room for improvement and Ertl agrees with his assessment.

"He needs to have a nastier streak - especially on the offensive line - where he just needs to rip your heart out," Good said. "I think he has that on defense, but offensively sometimes he catches blocks instead of being the guy who finishes blocks. We'd like to get him there."

Austin smiles when asked about his offensive line play.

"Sometimes I have a tendency on offense - I'll get someone down and then I will turn around and look for the ball," he said. "So I want to work on staying on my blocks longer and look for a new guy to block instead of just turning around and watching the ball."

If Ertl improves his aggressiveness, there is no telling what kind of career he will have, considering his first two seasons at Tosa West.

He earned all-conference first-team honors on the offensive line as a freshman. Then as a sophomore last fall, he was named first-team all-conference lineman on offense AND defense.

Ertl is a versatile athlete off the football field as well.

After playing basketball since he was a youngster, he switched to wrestling this winter and excelled for the co-op Tosa team. In the spring he took part in the shot and discus and just missed qualifying for state in the former.

Austin recently recalled his first season.

"My freshman year I wasn't really accepted by all the upper classmen," he said. "But after the first game, everyone told me you're part of the team now. We know you can play.

"Making all-conference as freshman gave me more confidence than I really thought I had. I set my goals high to get a scholarship when I made all-conference my freshman year. Now knowing I made all-conference two years in a row, it showed me I can play at the next level."

Austin has two Division 1 offers already, from the University at Buffalo and South Dakota State University.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Tosa West's Austin Ertl earned all-conference honors on offense and defense as a sophomore after making it on offense as a freshman.

Austin started playing football in third grade for the Red Knights before playing for the Jr. Trojans.

"In fourth grade I played up for the fifth grade Jr. Trojans team," he said. "My dad was my coach from fourth grade all the way through eighth grade. He used to be a head coach up north in Tomah.

"My dad played in college and I always wanted to follow what he did. And that's why I always wore No. 71, because he did in college."

Austin's dad, Phil, is the current Superintendent of the Wauwatosa School District. His mom is Kirsten and his brother, Logan, is a freshman and plays football at West.

Good first remembered when he laid eyes on Austin.

"He was a fifth grader on Jr. Trojans," he said. "He was always bigger than everyone else and he would run through people. I used to hear stories about Joe Thomas (former Brookfield Central tackle and current Cleveland Browns All-Pro tackle) and there are some similarities between them as Austin has come through the program."

Good knew he would get good things from Austin right away.

"As a freshman, coming in, his work ethic was outstanding. Right away you could see he had just a little different way in the weight room, his attitude in the weight room," Good said. "The way you were able to coach him and the things you were able to do with him compared to most kids and the way you could push him.

"He was a sponge. He always wanted more. He was watching linemen videos. He was watching strength videos, tackle videos. He was like a sponge and those are the special ones. They want to learn."

He was a sponge. He always wanted more. He was watching linemen videos. He was watching strength videos, tackle videos. He was like a sponge and those are the special ones. They want to learn.”

--- Coach Matt Good

When asked about Ertl's strong points, Good had a similar answer.

"His passion to get better. He has an unbelievable work ethic that wants to be great," he said. "He wants to be great, he works so hard every day in practice. He works so hard outside of football to get better at moves. He works so hard at footwork. He does extra footwork drills. He does extra strength drills.

"If he needs to get better at something, he goes and practices it. He does those things that make him an unbelievable talent to go to."

Good then focused on Austin's talents on the gridiron.

"His agility and quickness for a big guy; he's got incredible feet," he said. "He used to be a basketball player, then recently he switched to wrestling and I think that move helped his career in terms of being a competitor, his balance, all the things that go along with those sports have aided him in the right way."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Coach Matt Wood moved Austin Ertl to center this season because his skills fit well into this offensive scheme.

Austin has moved from tackle, to guard to center to help his team according to Good, who raved about his move to center.

"That move solidified our offensive line. It made our offense go. A kid that big and that good playing there. As a tackle as a sophomore he made all-conference both ways. On defense he plays all four positions on the defensive line. We move him all over and I think he likes that. He loves football. He's a football player. He plays 100 per cent of the time from scrimmage. He doesn't come off the field unless it’s a kickoff, a kick return or a punt."

Ertl spoke about what he enjoys about playing both ways.

"My favorite thing about the offensive line is you can engage people, you can drive them backwards," he said. "You can focus on just taking your man and put him on the ground. On defense, the (awesome) feeling of when you get a tackle for loss or a sack."

Despite being one of the best - if not the best - player on the team, Austin is only a junior. While the captains are seniors, he has a role in being a team leader.

"I feel like I'm one of the top leaders on the team," he said. "I feel like everyone on the team looks up to me," he said. "At practice I break the huddle, I'm the one that gives pre-game speeches. I just feel that now I'm a junior, people are looking up to me now and I'm helping the team get better as sort of a player-coach. When my game goes up, I feel other players games go up too."

Good sees the change in Austin.

"He's more vocal in practice. He's more vocal with his teammates," he said. "Whenever you're the best player on the team you are a leader by default sometimes and that can be hard for kids. He's taken that and he's learning, He's taken that upon him. Everything that's asked of him he's where he should be."

After playing in the Woodland Conference his first two years at Tosa West, his team moves to the Greater Metro Conference, one of the area's toughest conference. Ertl is ready for that.

"Better competition and I always like better competition," he noted. "It helps our team gel better. The off-season we had this year was the best off-season we've had since I've been here. I know going into the Greater Metro Conference the competition was going to be a lot better. It's going to help me get a college scholarship by coaches looking at my tape."

Another advantage of being in the GMC is having cross-town rival, Tosa East, in the same league, instead of playing them in a non-conference game.

"It will make the game a little more meaningful to us than just being the 'Tosa East rivalry.' It will help us get in the playoffs if we beat them."

At the end of the interview, Good was asked what Austin was like away from football.

"He's top notch. You have this kid who is 6-2, 290 pounds walking the hall," he said, smiling. "He still does some sophomore things, but overall he's a great kid."


HANGING WITH AUSTIN ERTL

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Honey BBQ wings from Buffalo Wild Wings
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  County Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'When the Game Stands Tall.'  Thrillers.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Criminal Minds'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Physical Education
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Sanibel Island
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Play video games
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Wauwatosa East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Rallying from 20-0 deficit to beat Pewaukee, 27-20, his freshman year.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend a Division 1 school, play football and study Athletic Training.