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All-State midfielder Sarah Knopp flies under the radar for nationally ranked Lancers


Brookfield Central senior Sarah Knopp didn't like soccer growing up. Three All-Greater Metro Conference honors and one All-State selection later she obviously changed her mind.

Knopp is a midfielder on the nationally-ranked Lancers and defending state champions. But her love of soccer took time to develop.

"It was my least favorite sport growing up," said Sarah, who started playing when she was 6 years old. "I was really bad (at soccer). I also was in gymnastics, track and volleyball - I loved volleyball and I wanted to stick with that."

But then the summer before high school, Knopp got up at 6 a.m. every morning and worked out in her yard.

"I practiced everything from touches to volleying against the brick wall. I worked on my moves. I remember I tore up my whole yard."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- Senior Sarah Knopp is a 3-time All-Greater Metro Conference selection and a first-team All-State member.

So why the change of heart?

"After I started practicing I got better, so it became more enjoyable," she said. "When I was bad, it just wasn't fun. Soccer was more fun when I got to high school."

Lancers head coach Dan Makal saw Sarah perform during a soccer camp the summer before her freshman year.

"Seeing Sara play was impressive because she could do a lot of things a lot of girls on our (high school) team weren't capable of doing," Makal said. "We knew her freshman year she was going to be really good. She showed up at all the open gyms and was dominant in open gyms.

"Watching her play, I thought we could actually change some stuff that we do. There would be a learning curve because to take that many freshmen (Emma Staszkiewicz, Brandi Thomsen were also in the class, among others) at a school like this ... having them at such an early age and change what the long-term perspective was going to be … we figured we could do different stuff. So having players with really good ability, who knew how to play the game, plus their technical work was really good and we could change some of the things we could do."

When Sarah’s having a (good) game, she’s enjoying herself and it’s contagious. There’s a vibe and she gets everybody’s clicking.”

---Coach Dan Makal

The Lancers, who are 7-0 this year through May 1, are 47-5-8 in Knopp's time at Central. They were 15-2-2 in 2017, 15-0-3 in 2016 and 10-3-3 in 2015.  In conference play, they finished co-champs with Divine Savior Holy Angels (5-1-1) her freshman and sophomore years (6-0-1). Then they won the conference title in her junior years (6-0-1), giving the Lancers a 17-1-3 GMC record in her three years on the varsity.

They then outscored their post-season foes, 18-0, to win the state title last spring, their first since 2005.

Sarah talked about her key role with the Lancers.

"I get the ball from the defenders and either distribute or switch the field," she said. "I play dangerously and see the attackers. My role in general is fun, but when you have talent like I have playing next to me, you look better, it makes the whole team look better. We're successful, which makes it even more fun."

Thomsen and Knopp were first-team all-state last year and Staszkiewicz was honorable mention last year and first team two years ago, so Makal is blessed with talent. Then there is Jenny Cape, who will be playing at Division 1 University of Iowa. Cape had 3 goals and an assist in the state tournament. This is a very talented senior class.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- Sarah Knopp and the Lancers are nationally ranked and No. 1 in Wisconsin. They have a target on their back, but Knopp feels that helps keep them focused.

When asked about Knopp's strengths, Makal had an interesting answer.

"Her sense of humor - that's paramount," Makal said. "On the field, her work ethic is incredible. I find myself sometimes backing off a little bit because I want to ask her for more just because I know she's capable of giving more. You don't ask that to a lot of kids all the time.

"Her ability to lead by being a positive role model all the time. She plays with a lot of intensity. She plays with a lot of knowledge of what should happen and she's always willing to learn.

"People who are competing with her, well she's in a different class. There aren't a lot of kids who can perform at her level consistently across the state. She can make an elite pass and just break a team down.”

With Staszkiewicz (14 goals, 1 assist, 29 points) and Thomsen (8-5-21) doing most of the scoring, Knopp (5-4-14) is the Lancers main playmaker.

"Last year after 10 games, she was leading the state in assists," Makal pointed out. "Yet other girls behind her had played 5-10 more games. She is excellent at distributing the ball."

Makal, when asked what Sarah needs to work on, thought a minute before answering.

"I would like to see her run the ball back faster," he said. "Also her decision making - get the ball out quicker to a more advance position. I always say (passing) the ball is faster than you can run. Your brain is faster. You think faster and need to see the pass before it happens."

Makal talked about Sarah's leadership role.

"When Sarah's having a (good) game, she's enjoying herself and it's contagious," he said. "There's a vibe and she gets everybody's clicking.

"You can't have everyone be a captain. But if there is a meeting of leadership, Sarah's in that conversation. I don't know how to replace her next year."

Sarah shared her thoughts on leadership.

"Being a senior you know that all the freshmen, sophomores and younger people are looking up to you, no matter what you do," she said. "You have to set a good example. It's inevitable, you have to be a good leader. You're setting the stage of what the future program will be. It's very important.

"And I like to bring a sense of humor, some positivity to this game."

Makal agreed with that last statement, when asked about Sarah off the soccer field.

"She's a great student, but unpredictable," he laughed. "You never know what will come out of her mouth. Maybe something funny, a joke, but she is usually involved. Maybe putting someone else up to it, but she is always behind it."

Knopp needs that sense of humor, because the Lancers have a target on their back every game.

"It is a lot of pressure (national ranking), but it's keeps you in the right place (mentally) because each game is a big game, because everyone wants to beat us."

                        HANGING WITH SARAH KNOPP

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Shrimp Alfredo
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Tommy Boy,'  Scary movies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'That 70's Show'
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:  Tandem bike with Jenny Cape, listen to music
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Divine Savior Holy Angels
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Winning state as a junior
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend University of Wisconsin, try out for varsity or play club soccer. Undecided on her major  

Golfer Jack Anderson – leads Brookfield Central on and off the course.


Brookfield Central golf coach Brian Scrobel had known the Anderson family, all avid golfers, for several years. Carl and Kim and their three boys, Evan, Eric and Jack.

Scrobel had coached the two older brothers, but he wasn't sure he would get a chance to coach Jack, the youngest, who played basketball his freshman year.

"We had a golf unit at Wisconsin Hills and I could see Jack was really good," Scrobel recalled. "But he was into basketball. He had very little interest in golf.  But after the summer of his 8th grade year he caught the bug and got really good, really fast."

Jack remembered he started golfing with his dad when he was 8 years old, but he admitted he didn't get into it.

"But during spring break of my 8th grade year I played as much as I possibly could. And I became a regular on varsity as a freshman."

So what changed his mind?

"I could spend time golfing with my dad, with his friends too," Anderson said. "I could meet more people. I enjoyed being outside. I really like being outdoors." 

Scrobel was asked was he surprised that he suddenly made the team as a freshman after not deciding to go out until the last minute.

"He had a great work ethic and support to do what he wants to do," he said. "I watched the passion develop and then I knew he was going to be very good. And once the passion developed, I knew he was going to be very good RIGHT AWAY."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- Jack Anderson made it to state with the Lancers his freshman and sophomore seasons and this year he is Brookfield Central's top returning starter.

Scrobel was right about Anderson, as he became a starter his freshman year.

His first year at the WIAA State Golf Championships he finished tied for 67th, shooting a 20-over par 164 (83-81). But then he showed a big improvement last spring at state, finishing 17th, 10 over par, knocking 10 strokes off his score with a 154 (77-77).

Anderson had an excellent sophomore season, earning first-team All-Greater Metro Conference honors, third team All-Area and honorable mention All-State, shooting a 74 in the conference championship. He was also named to the  GCAW Academic All State team, showing he was talented on the course and in the classroom.

He averaged 39.4 strokes and was named the Lancers Most Valuable Player.

Everyone likes him so it’s easy for people to gravitate towards him. With his success on the golf course – his success hasn’t come easy – he really works hard at it. And I think the kids notice and they see how much time he puts into it. He leads by example and does a really good job that way.”

--- Coach Brian Scrobel

Anderson was pretty low-key when I asked what his strong points on the course were.

"I'm pretty good with the irons and overall, keeping myself out of trouble, which can be pretty helpful most of the time," he said. "I like to motivate our team too."

Scrobel was more specific.

"He's not great at any one thing, but he is good at just about anything thing," he said. "He has good length off the tee. He hits his irons well. His short game is good and he is a good putter. So he is not excellent at  any of those, but he is really good at all of them."

But Anderson, being only a junior, has things to work on.

"Definitely my short game - chipping, putting, 80 yards in and everything," he said. "I've just got to get to the next level. I really got to dial that in; any of those times I have a chance to make a birdie or par. If I miss the green, I would have a good chance of getting up and down then."

Scrobel - on the other hand - was complimentary when talking on what he needs to improve on.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- Coach Brian Scrobel says Jack Anderson isn't excellent at any one thing, but he is very good at every part of his game.

"Consistency. I think his ball striking is good, but consistency on the golf course when you have a bad shot or a bad hole, being able to show the resiliency in bouncing back quicker and being able to manage those bad shots and the bad holes is important," he said.

"I think this is a big year for Jack. We would like bad rounds of golf to be in the high 70's. That's a bad round of golf. He has the ability to go really low. You can always track people's progress - not necessarily as how low they go - but how high is their high. If they can keep their high scores manageable, that's good progress."

Both Anderson and Zack Mindel are co-captains this season and Scrobel talked about Jack's leadership style.

"Everyone likes him so it's easy for people to gravitate towards him," the veteran coach said. "With his success on the golf course - his success hasn't come easy - he really works hard on it. And I think the kids notice and they see how much time he puts into it. He leads by example and does a really good job that way."

Jack was excited about his role as one of the Lancers captains.

"I think it's pretty crucial, especially with guys who have their first year on varsity," he said. "I try to calm them down and let them know, that even if they play bad they're going to be OK.

"There's a lot of time where if you're in the wrong place mentally, it might even affect your swing. It's important to help yourself if you're in that position or if someone else is. Let them know they are better than what they are going through. It happens to everybody, you just need to get through it and overcome it. It might take time, but eventually you will through it."

Anderson is not afraid to help them with the physical part of their game.

"If I see something in their swing and I can help them out, I will jump right to it and help them out."

Anderson surprised me when I asked him who his favorite professional golfer was and he responded "I like Tiger (Woods), he's by far my favorite. He was totally dominant. He just beat everybody. I watch videos of him. It's just crazy to see how good he actually was."

Scrobel had an interesting comment on Anderson's makeup.

"He has the type of personality that he's equality comfortable talking with his friends and peers as he is with adults - and that's a compliment," he said. "He's got great perspective on life. He has great humor. Although he likes to have fun, he's also very mature."

With Anderson, Mindel and Jack Sonsalla leading the way, the Lancers sound have an opportunity to return to state this season.

Scrobel then talked about the mental part of the game and how it helps the physical play of the team.

"Oh yeah absolutely. To be successful in conference, you need to have success 1-5," Scrobel explained. "If the 4-5 players play (well), the more relaxed our 1-2-3 will be. If they're more relaxed then they're scores are going to go down. As their scores go down, it was be easier for the 4-5. It's cyclical. As soon as you see the better players in the lineup really start to feel comfortable and playing to their ability, everyone will play more relaxed."

Which is good news for Anderson and company.


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Pepperoni pizza
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   ​R & B in winter, Country Music in summer
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'School of Rock,' Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Breaking Bad'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   ​Economics
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Work out and play basketball with friends
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Going to the state tournament as a freshman and shot a 76 in the sectional. 
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college, play golf and study finance. Looking to be an Investment Banker.  



Brookfield Central basketball coach Dan Wandrey has had many talented players over the years on his girls and boys teams.  But for the past three seasons, he has been pleased with the likes of Cole Nau, the Lancers version of a Swiss army knife.

For those not familiar with a Swiss army knife, it is one of the handiness tools made. It has two blades, big and small, and some of the many additions include nail filers, fish scaler,  scissors, pliers, Phillips screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick and can opener to name just a few.

Wandrey can call on Nau to do several duties on the basketball court, just as easily as people can use a Swiss army knife for various functions.

Just listen to how the veteran coach responded when asked about Nau's strengths.

"His biggest strength is he doesn't have one thing that's better than anything else," Wandrey said. "His court awareness, his basketball IQ and acumen are outstanding. He plays every position on the floor for us. He handles the ball, he posts up. he gets the No. 1 defensive assignment. His versatility is irreplaceable. He really makes the players around him better."

But what really makes Nau valuable is his ability to play defense.

"He can guard 6-5, 6-6 guys," Wandrey said. "Obviously we're a little vertically challenged. With Cole's length and athleticism he can play guys who are bigger. And with his quickness and athleticism and anticipation he can guard smaller guys too. It's great."

When asked if he liked guarding the other team's top player, Nau had an interesting response.

"I like it because I like controlling one of the best guys in the game," he said. "If someone else is guarding the best guy, it kind of makes me feel weird. I like having an impact, I like playing the game both ways."

Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhotoLLC --- Junior guard Cole Nau does it all for the Lancers and is one of the major reasons for winning another Greater Metro Conference Championship.

Cole is listed as a 6-foot, 3 inch guard, but he can pretty much play any position.  And his regular season numbers are just as impressive.

He finished second in scoring (13.3 points per game), 3-point shots made (28), rebounding (5.1 per game), assists (4.2 per game), steals (27) and blocked shots (14). He shoots .467 percent from the field, including .522 from the free-throw line.

But where Cole really stepped up was a 4-game stretch - including 3 Greater Metro Conference games - when four Central players had to sit out because of an off-the-court situation.

Nau was the key to keeping the Lancers in the conference race by leading them to a 3-0 mark against Menomonee Falls, Germantown and first-place Brookfield East.

In a 91-60 win over Falls, he scored 21 points, handed out 10 assists, grabbed 7 rebounds, blocked 5 shots and had 3 steals.

In a 79-53 win over Germantown he scored 16 points, had 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot.

He was in there with his dad and a couple other coaches playing on a (third-grade) AAU team. He looked like a 15-year old basketball player in a 7 year old’s body. That’s when I knew he was something special.”

--- Coach Dan Wandrey on when he first saw Cole Nau play

But then in a 53-44 win over then undefeated Brookfield East, he scored 21 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, had 8 assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

He scored 58 points (19.3 average), handed out 28 assists (9.3), grabbed 18 rebounds (6.0) and had 7 blocked shots and 6 steals. He also hit 22 of 42 shots (.524 percentage) from the field and ran the Lancers offense.

He even scored 17 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had 3 assists in the only loss in that stretch, coming against state-ranked Sun Prairie in the Luke Homan Memorial Tournament.

Wandrey was asked if he stepped up his game during this stretch when the team was short-handed.

Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhotoLLC  --- Brookfield Central junior Cole Nau tries to stay out of the spotlight . But this season the Lancers captain helped led the team when they were short-handed, winning 3 key games which enabled them to win another Greater Metro Conference title.

"That doesn't even do it justice," the emotional coach said. "He was like out of this worldly. The first game he had almost a quadruple double. 21 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks. The game was like his chess game.

"He did things. Cole brought those guys in gym (the players who started instead) early and went over things so they knew what to do."

Cole also talked about having to step up his game.

"I felt a little pressure, but when I got on the court - I play point guard with my Ray Allen select team and I really enjoy it," he said. "Jack (Brady) really stepped up. He's like Sam (Rohde) a lot, so I got him the ball."

Brady a sharp-shooting senior also did a good job in that first game with 6 treys for 24 points. He also had 7 treys against Germantown for 25 points and continued to start the rest of the way, leading the team with 35 3-point shots.

Cole talked about his role on the team.

"I like to be a facilitator," he said. "I have to rebound and play defense too. A lot of things. I think my strength is seeing the court and seeing the court well. Looking for other teammates to score and knowing to score when you have to."

The scary part if both Cole and Wandrey know he can get better.

"Attacking the middle more, dribbling by guys, making more moves, having more counter shots stuff like that," Nau said when asked what he would like to get better at.

"I want him to play like the guy who played 5 games when those guys were not available," Wandrey said. "He just has such control of the game when he's involved in it. He's never going to be a guy who is a volume shooter. He's not going to take 15-16 shots a game - it's not in his makeup.

"When he needs to take control and be assertive, he's special. He's unbelievable. I would like to see him be that a little more. I want to say he blends in, but I don't mean it that way. He's OK with someone else taking the spotlight. but when he needs to, he's outstanding."

Cole is the Lancers captain and he talked about his role.

"I think leadership takes the team from good to great actually," he said. "Teams that have leaders can excel off the court and on the court. I like to be the kind of leader to talk to you when you need to be talked to, but I don't want people hating me. I want people to like me. But if I have to do something and make a tough decision, I'm not afraid to go that way."

Wandrey agrees with Cole's assessment.

"Cole is, I don't want to say soft-spoken - because that would indicate he's shy - but he's a man of few words," he said. "When he does speak, he's very poignant, it's very on point. He's that kid whose actions on the court, off the court - his work ethic, his commitment his dedication - makes him a great leader."

Cole has a first this year - playing with his brother, Ben, a 6-0 freshman point guard.

"In an official game, no we have never played together. I played with Gage (Malensek) in Jr. Lancers and we won state every year. I like it a lot (playing with his brother). It's really cool. Our parents really like it too."

Wandrey was asked about Cole away from the court and he was very complimentary.

"I was talking to a teacher here today, who had Cole in a class for the first time and she said 'Wow he's just an amazing kid. Everyone told me I would like him and he's even better.'

"He is almost like that kid you'd want your son to be like," Wandrey said. "You'd want your daughter to bring a guy like him home. He has high character. He's hard working. The kid next door. Respectful gracious."

Wandrey knew Cole was going to be good when he saw him play in third grade.

"I was coaching the girls and we couldn't use our gym so we played at a church," he said. "He was in there with his dad and a couple other coaches playing on an AAU team.

"He looked like a 15-year old basketball player in a 7 year old's body. That's when I knew he was something special."


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Steak
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Stepbrothers,' Action movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'The Office, Game of Thrones'
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   Going to the state tournament as a sophomore. 
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college, play basketball and study Business.  



If you looked up the definition of a 'quiet leader' you would probably find Brookfield East's Sam McGath's photo next to it.

McGath is a talented sophomore, who has played key positions for the Spartans in football (quarterback) and basketball (point guard).

"He's a quiet leader," second-year basketball coach Joe Rux said. "Sam is the kind of kid who will do what's asked of him. He is going to set the right example by how he conducts himself on and off the field. That's his strength right now.

“I think all of us would like to see him take the next step in that role and be a little vocal and be more assertive as a leader. But that comes also with maturity. When you're thinking about a 15-16 year old, it's hard to have every quality."

McGath, who started at quarterback last fall as a sophomore and led the Spartans to a 7-1 record in the Greater Metro Conference and a 10-2 overall mark, understands he is a sophomore and has a role.

"It's really important," McGath said about leadership. "As a sophomore on the football team I let the seniors do what they needed to do. They were the vocal leaders. I didn't really say a lot. On offense I just tried to lead when I needed to. I didn't go out of my way and say stuff I didn't need to say. I left that for the seniors to do."​

Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhotoLLC --- For the second straight season, sophomore Sam McGath started at point guard for coach Joe Rux and is one of the key reasons the Spartans are in a first-place tie with Brookfield Central in the Greater Metro Conference.

Football coach Ben Farley talked about McGath's leadership style.

"Quarterback is a natural leadership position and he leads by example," he said. "He is not a big rah-rah screamer. He doesn't know how to ever raise his voice. But a lot of people follow him. He is humble and doesn’t draw attention to himself."

McGath, who started on the JV as a freshman, was moved to wide receiver and played with the varsity during the Spartans run to the state title. Last ​fallhe started at quarterback and earned second-team all-conference honors.

Although he was a running quarterback - he rushed for 645 yards and 7 touchdowns - he also passed for 727 yards and 11 touchdowns showing his versatility.

"As a quarterback you have to make sure your team is playing well," he said. "If someone is getting down, you have to make sure you're picking them back up and being a leader.

"I enjoy running the ball and making the right reads, making the right decisions. But I need to improve my throwing accuracy and being able to get the ball there on time and in the right spot."

His maturity didn't surprise Farley.

"I was not surprised," he said. "He had a very good freshman year and started the last five games. He's a special kid, there's lot of poise about him, how he carries himself. You can't rattle him.

"We brought him up to play wide receiver and to mainly block. But in the level 4 vs Menomonee Falls he was involved in a trick play and gained 40 yards."

There’s not one thing where you look at Sam and say that’s where he’s really great. He’s pretty well-rounded as a basketball player. But certainly on the defensive end he’s really made a living. He’s able to deny people and work hard and get some rebounds.”

--- Coach Joe Rux on sophomore point guard Sam McGath

Farley also helped coach him in basketball his first year.

"He started and was one of our best players," he said. "You got to see that first hand, his athleticism, his physical talent, he's a smart kid."

Rux had the opportunity to see Sam play in the Jr. Spartans since he was hired in the spring before McGath's freshman year.

"Obviously he's a natural athlete physically and he is mature for his age as well," Rux said. "While we were watching him in the youth games, we saw how focused he was and that was the giveaway. He was more advanced at the freshman level."

As a result, he ended up starting for Rux as a freshman at the important point guard position.

"He's a competitor. You can pretty much ask him to play defense on anyone you want him to," Rux said. "He's going to take that as a challenge and you can trust that with him.

Photo by Al Herzberg, SportsPhotoLLC  --- Sophomore Sam McGath led the Spartans to a 10-2 record last fall and finished second-team All-Greater Metro Conference.

"There's not one thing where you look at Sam and say that's where he's really great. He's pretty well-rounded as a basketball player. But certainly on the defensive end he's really made a living. He's able to deny people and work hard and get some rebounds."

Sam talked about his role with the Spartans and what he felt his strengths were.

"Playing good defense, getting steals, doing the dirty work," he said. "Going to the hoop and driving. And getting assists and making sure everyone is playing well."

But being a sophomore, Sam still has things to work on.

"The biggest steps he can make is developing his shooting and work on going to the rim," Rux said. "It's hard when you are young going against kids who are more developed than you are. They're stronger and more athletic, so it makes it more difficult.

"He's going to get stronger, he's going to get quicker with his releases, so the 3-point shot won't be as much of a problem. When he gets to the basket he'll be able to finish it."

Currently, Sam is third on the team in scoring (8.6 points per game average) behind Patrick Cartier (20.8) and Thomas Francken (11.1), an improvement over his 5.6 points per game average his freshman year. He is tied for second in 3-point shots this year, the same as his freshman season.

"I'm working on being a more consistent shooter," McGath said. "Being able to knock down open shots."

McGath, who also is a sprinter on coach Mike Steiner's outstanding track teams, talked about what he likes most about basketball and football.

"Basketball is fast paced, not that many breaks," he said. "It's fun running up and down the court. It's a team game, everyone has to work together. You have to know everyone's strength and you have to know you own strengths. What you can do, can't do, what other people can and can't do.

"Football is fun because of the contact, being able to hit people. It's easily the biggest game in sports. It's fun being around the guys, in the weight room, the summer workouts."

The Spartans have been one of the top-ranked basketball teams in the state this year. McGath was asked if he expected such success.

"I knew we could be really good this year with have all the parts - especially Patrick in the middle - but I didn't know we'd be this good - but that we would have a better year than last year. Coach Rux is a good guy, a great coach, who pushes you to do your best and give 100 percent."

The veteran Rux had his own thoughts going into the season.

"In my 18 years of coaching, I don’t set any expectations on how low things can get or how high," he said. "I know it's a coaching cliché, but a good way to live. One day at a time.

"It happens when it's ready to happen and here it was a scenario where we had kids who work hard. We were able to find some success this year and concentrate on little things."


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Hamburgers
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   ​​'Sandlot,' Action movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Walking Dead'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   ​History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   ​Barcelona, Spain
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    ​Lay on couch and watch TV
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   ​Brookfield Central
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   ​Winning state football championship as a freshman. 
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college and study Business.  Would like to play football.  



When Brooklyn Blackburn enrolled at Wauwatosa East High School three years ago, the athletic department had no idea they would be getting two athletes for the price of one.

Then basketball coach Rob Hamill was familiar with Brooklyn's talents having watched her in the Tosa Basketball League growing up.

When Brian Hendricks applied for the open girls basketball job in the spring, he did research on Brooklyn and also found out she was a developing track star as well as being an outstanding basketball player.

"I looked up the roster and saw two all-conference players (Blackburn, Liz Bueckers) returning," Hendricks said. "I said that's a good start. I then started Googling her and saw she was a great hurdler. So I started following newspapers article on her and followed her in another sport. I saw her play basketball all summer. I said we're getting a pure athlete."

Blackburn finished fourth at state in the 100 hurdles as a sophomore and was part of the 4x400 relay (10th) and 4x200 relay team (20th).

Since she never participated in track before her freshman year, I asked her why she went out.

"I thought I was fast," she laughed. "I gotten hurt half way through track season - I only ran one meet outside - so I was coming into it saying 'Oh my God, I probably got way worst.' But at the conference meet I broke my PR (personal record), I broke the school record it was just like 'wow, for this to be my second year…'

When asked the difference between basketball and track, she laughed.

"Basketball is totally different, but speed helps," she said. "But basketball running and track running are totally different things."

Although Brooklyn is the straw that stirs the drink, her teammates are the most important thing to her according to Hendricks.

"Even as she progressed, it's become more team, team, team," the first-year coach said. "There were times when she was sick and played through it. When she was injured, she would sit on the bench and she was a version of me sitting on the bench. She's coaching the girls the entire time. Where a lot of players who are as good as she is get hurt, they possibly shut down and worry about their injury.

"The other night Brook got hurt, sat on the bench icing her ankle then you could see Brooklyn hobbling all the way from the end of the bench, just to make sure she gets to the huddle. It's becoming more and more apparent as the year goes on with her."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Junior forward Brooklyn Blackburn tops the Wauwatosa East girls in scoring (15 points) and rebounds (8 .0) . She was honorable mention all-conference as a freshman and  first-team as a sophomore.

Mariana Ibanez-Baldor and Sydney Halstead are captains, but because of her attitude and talent Blackburn also does her part.

"I think it's really important - being able to share my knowledge with others and to be able to carry the team in different situations," she said about being a leader. "Not only on the floor, but off the floor, being able to keep the team together.

"If I see something I will say it. Or I will basically show someone. I'll say 'You do this instead of this. (When someone asks) it gives me self-confidence that means that I'm doing something right and someone wants to lead off of me. It makes me feel good."

Hendricks sees the progress Brooklyn is making in that role.

"I think she has grown more and more comfortable with leadership," he said. "Halfway through the first semester of the year, something clicked with her and it was a lot more leading by example.

"We have a freshman on the varsity and she should take her aside and say 'You make this cut and here's why.' and then as 2018 hit, she's become coach Brooklyn. A lot has to do with trust in your coach and what can I (Brooklyn) say now. She is really believing in 'that's what's going on, I can help you guys.' The team looks to her and they believe in what she says now."

In Brooklyn's first two years the Red Raiders were 17-8 overall, 7-7 in GMC, and 19-7 and 8-6. They are struggling this year going 6-8 overall and 3-6 going into the week.

They are playing without senior Liz Bueckers, the other returning all-conference player because of a knee injury (time of return in question) and they lost their third all-conference player - Johanna Taylor - to graduation.

It didn't take Hendricks long to see he had something special in Brooklyn.

"I saw her at the first open gym of summer. We had a team meeting, I introduced myself and then I watched her on the court. When Brooklyn got the ball, everyone kind of stopped and watched. I said this is something we could really and truly build around. Watching her play, it was great, instinctual, very natural for her. Where other girls were still learning it just comes natural for her."

Blackburn talked about her role and the team and what she enjoys the most.

"I feel I'm an all-around player, so I can help everyone in different scenarios or different situations," she said. "I have the most basketball experience. I play here and AAU (1on1) year-round. I feel like I have a good basketball IQ.

As a coach it’s exciting to see where this is going to end up. She has already matured as a player and a leader in two months here. So what is she going to do next year? It’s going to be fun to watch.”

Coach Brian Hendricks on Brooklyn Blackburn

"What do I enjoy the most? I run the floor really well. I like transitioning and physical work. I like to get to other people. I like to read the floor. I like to make things happen, I guess. (When I get an assist I feel great. I feel so accomplished. With assists it's a great feeling to have when you do it. I like doing something for someone else and I think that's great."

Hendricks couldn't wait to talk about her strengths.

"She's fantastic on offense. She'll get the basket when she dribbles, there aren't many people in conference who can stop her 1-on-1," he said. "Anytime she gets the ball in the paint she's going to get a good look and she's probably going to score. We're moving her up to the wing now. She's so big (5-feet, 11 inches) and so quick on the wing it's going to be hard for post players to guard her.

"She played post her whole life and we started her at wing and she's picking it up like nothing. It goes back to the quick learning and natural ability. I can tell her she's playing point guard this week and she will look at me and say 'Yeah, sure.' And then say 'OK, let's do it.' She'll figure it out. She'll give you a little goofy funny thing, but then at the end of the day every time you are talking to her she is actually listening."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh  --- First-year Red Raiders coach Brian Hendricks talked about how much Brooklyn Blackburn has matured since November.

Blackburn also knows what the strong part of her game is.

"I feel like I can score and I use my size to an advantage most of the time," she said, adding this about rebounding strategy. "You need to find a person, box her out and I have to actually jump in the air sometimes, especially against taller girls. I'm not the tallest one out there sometimes, so I try to establish a position to get a rebound.

"I have to transition from a post to a guard sometimes. So being able to set up plays and ball handling, things like that I need to work on."

Hendricks talked about another area Blackburn needs to work on.

"Defensively, right now she relies on pure athleticism because she is so much more athletic than most people. If she can get down the fundamentals of defense - plus the athleticism. Being in the right spot at the right time with your feet, not just your hands. Fundamental stuff. She is going to be a total scary player."

Hendricks then when back to Brooklyn and the way she cares about other people, especially family.

"She's a kind person first and foremost," he said. "You can tell by the way she cares for her younger sisters (Bria, Brilee). She loves them so much. One (Bria) of them plays on our club team. They're at every game. They went to the West Allis Hale-DSHA game and Brooklyn took her youngest sister with her. She's goofing around sitting with her. She shows so much compassion for those two and she does that with everybody.

"She's a kind, passionate person and she's a funny person. She knows when it's time to get serious. But if you're getting too serious she can throw a little joke in and loosen everybody up."

Hendricks once again referred to her progress since the season started.

"The maturity and growth I've seen from November through February has been huge and I think she's seeing that. As a coach it's exciting to see where this is going to end up. She has already matured as a player and a leader in two months here. So what is she going to do next year?  It's going to be fun to watch."


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Buffalo Wings
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   ​​'Freedom Writers';  Romance movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Chopped'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   ​English
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    ​Sleep
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   ​Wauwatosa West
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   ​Scored 40 points against Washington last season. 
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college and study pre-med (Physical Therapy).  



On Friday, Jan. 5, New Berlin Eisenhower senior forward Hannah Plockelman probably got rid of the 'unsung hero' tag forever.

That's because Plockelman was the hero in a 50-37 victory over Pewaukee which kept the Lions unbeaten (6-0) and in first place in the Woodland West.  The 6-foot Plockelman scored 18 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and added 2 assists and 1 steal. She even was the guest on Spectrum Sports post-game show.

The Lions are 10-2 overall and Plockelman leads the team in scoring (13.9 points) and rebounding (8.1) and is second in assists (2.2).

Hannah was a member of the Lions State Championship team as a sophomore, averaging 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Then last year as a junior starter, she led the team in rebounding (6.2) and was third in scoring (7.5) and steals (31).

As for the 'unsung hero' tag?

"She was second team all-conference last year so people noticed it," Coach Gary Schmidt said of Plockelman's improved play. "It's just the way she goes about doing business. She's improved her game. I like the fact that people notice what kind of athlete she is. I don't see how she shouldn't be first-team all-conference and she should get some all-state recognition too.

"From a coaches perspective (being an unsung hero), that's awesome. She's kind of a hidden gem. I think that's a tribute to the way she has mastered her game. She just keeps getting better and better."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Senior forward Hannah Plockelman leads the Lions in scoring and rebounding this season and is starting to share some of the spotlight..

Plockelman gives the Lions a multi-pronged attack with sharp-shooting Julia Hintz (13.2 points), Katie Ludwig (7.3), 6-feet, 2 inch Erin Hedman (6.3) and Olivia Canady (5.8). Hintz, Ludwig and  Canady are excellent 3-point shooters, which opens up the lane for Plockelman and Hedman.

Plockelman understands her new role this year.

"I'm more involved in the scoring aspect," she said. "In the previous years I just played defense and passed the ball but this year I'm more involved."

When asked if she feels more pressure in her new role, she talked about the talent on the team.

"I feel a little pressure, but I feel if I don't have the best game, my teammates will make up for it," she said. "We're a really deep team and everyone has a lot of strength.

"If teams focus on Erin or me, then that leaves Julia open," Hannah said. "Julia is also good at going to the basket and then dishing the ball off to us also. Katie and Olivia are also good outside shooters."

Plockelman is also a key player when it comes to defense.

"I guard the taller people and I have to make sure to box out and get rebounds," Hannah said. "I'm always working hard, I'm being aggressive. I've gotten stronger in these past years underneath the basket to get rebounds. It's very important if you're playing bigger girls, to get around them or you don't get the rebounds."

She not only wants to be out there, not just for her, but for her team. That’s part of being a good leader. It’s all about somebody else. She always reaches out to everybody. She’s just a great kid to have around.”

Lions coach Gary Schmidt

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Eisenhower coach Gary Schmidt has been thrilled - but not surprised - by Hannah Plockelman's progress the last few years.

Schmidt knew he had something good when he first saw Plockelman in the Eisenhower youth program.

"In fifth grade, even though she was very tall, she also showed skills, and I was pretty excited knowing she was going to be in our program for the long hall. Right back when she joined our feeder program, I knew she would be something special for us."

Schmidt then talked about one of the key strengths her coaches mentioned to him.

"When all coaches feel that they have kids who are coachable - you could just tell when she went to camps - the coaches said how good she was on the court and how she listened," he said. "That right there spoke highly of her. Not only from her effort but how well she knew the game of basketball. She really worked hard. That's why I'm impressed with her. The way she was in fifth grade and the way she is now. That tells a story - that any kid could get good if they really wanted to without a doubt."

Schmidt didn't hesitate when asked about Hannah's strong points.

"Her athleticism No. 1 and her basketball instinct No. 2," he said. "One of the things I've been most impressed with her is her speed, how quick she can get to the ball and get to the basket. I think she's very hard to defend.

"And yet she is so good to get up and get the rebound. She has quite the strong presence out there when it comes to basketball and where to be on the court. This is something you can teach to some and some kids you can't. Because of her athleticism she gets to some of the spots so quick. Her speed possesses that.

"I also think she is one of best defensive players in the state. I mean that sincerely. I also think she's one of the best rebounders.

Plockelman also talked about her quickness and defense.

"I have a quick first step, so if I have a taller and slower person guarding me I can drive past them in the lane and get to the hoop," she said. "I feel I'm good at anticipating on defense, so I'm good at being able to get to the gap or be on help side if my teammates need me.

"Defense is probably the most important thing to me. Coach says you should never have a bad game on defense."

Both coach and player almost agree on what she needs to work on.

"I need to work on my shooting," Hannah said. "I usually drive to the basket instead of taking the jump shot. I feel that I've never really been a big shooter from the perimeter, which I regret.  Coach doesn't discourage me. He encourages everyone to shoot."

But Schmidt wants her to work on the end of the shot.

"Finishing. We have to get her to be better at that," he said. "She's a great finisher as we speak. If I can find one flaw it's finishing. I would like to see her finish better around the hoop."

Not surprising, leadership is a key part of Hannah's makeup.

"It's extremely important. I think everyone is encouraging and stepping up when we have to," she said. "I think I can encourage people and pick them up when they're having a bad game. I like helping out (when younger players ask her questions). I like to see them succeed too. Once they understand it, they are really happy. That makes me happy too because they are improving and helping me too."

Schmidt is pleased with her leadership skills also.

"She leads by example," he said. "I can't think of a better kid who leads by example. She's very coachable. She listens, she responds, she never takes any time off. She's just a gamer.

"She not only wants to be out there, not just for her, but for her team. That's part of being a good leader. It's all about somebody else. She always reaches out to everybody. She's just a great kid to have around."

Schmidt was asked about Hannah's personality off the basketball court and his answer wasn't surprising.

"She's extremely polite," he said. "You can tell mom and dad (Jennifer and Mike) did a great job in raising her. She's always respectful. She treats people fairly. I never hear a bad word come out of her. She's always positive. To sum it up, she's the real deal. She treats people the way people should be treated."

Schmidt then asked if ​he could add one more thing about Hannah.

"There are two reasons people coach high school basketball," he said. "The love of game and the love of coaching kids. To have good kids is a coach's dream.

"I enjoy Hannah as much off the court as I do on. She's disciplined the way she looks at life. I'm the one who is honored to coach her."​


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Cheeseburger
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   ​Popular Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   ​​'Safe Haven';  Comedy, Horror.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Grey's Anatomy'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   ​AP Biology
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   ​Phoenix, Arizona
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   ​Pewaukee, New Berlin West
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   ​Winning State Championship her sophomore year. 
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend UW-Parkside, play basketball and be a nurse practitioner



To say that New Berlin West's Tyler Torosian got the 2017-18 basketball season off with a bang would be an understatement.

Torosian scored a school record 44 points in a 101-95 win over Milwaukee Golda Meir in the season opener on Friday, Nov 24, in the Fresh Coast Classic at the Klotsche. He broke Charlie Averkamp's record of 42 points.

The Vikings trailed 39-33, but rallied to tie the game at 88 and send it into overtime where they outscored Golda Meir, 13-7, to win the game.

Torosian hit 13 of 18 shots from the field, 3 of 4 from 3-point range and was 9-of-12 from the free throw line. He also led the team with 10 rebounds.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Senior forward Tyler Torosian set a school record in the opener this season, scoring 44 points as the Vikings defeated Milwaukee Golda Meir in overtime. He also led the tream with 10 rebounds.

"I don't think anyone was really expecting it," Tyler said. "I wouldn't say it was out of no where, but it wasn't like we were running a whole lot of plays for me. I started outworking everyone, getting rebounds, hitting a few 3s. I got to the line 12 times. I made my free throws, just put in shots all around.

"Everyone knows - even myself - that I'm capable of having a game like that. It's more of a 'We know he can score so we can trust him when he has the ball down low.' It's more of a trust thing."

Torosian talked about his role on this year's Vikings team.

"I play a forward. I'm not the big guy, but I play the wing," he said. "We cycle it through guys, extend the floor, get up the floor, shoot the 3, drive the hoop. I do just a little bit of everything."

Tyler began playing basketball at an early age and knew it was the game for him.

"I started in first grade when my dad (Greg) introduced it to me," he recalled. His dad played at New Berlin Eisenhower and at UW-Whitewater."It was a fun game. He played NBAA for three years and from fourth to eighth grade I played on the school's select team.

He’s a gym rat, a serviceable big man,” Mattox said. He likes running, he can dunk, pick and roll. What I like about him the most is he has the versatility to guard multi-positions. He is a tough kid with a nose for the basketball.”

--- Coach Brandon Mattox

"I was always a little taller than everyone, so I had somewhat of an advantage. I just like the competitive nature of it. I was never really into football or any other sports."

Despite his height - he is currently 6-feet, 5 inches tall, he pointed out a lot of his success comes from the way he plays the game.

"A lot of my buckets are from outworking other players," he said. "My rebounds are from out muscling guys, getting up the court. That's just how I've always played. Just trying to get easy buckets."

Mattox and Tyler arrived at New Berlin West at almost the same time.

"His first year was my first year. I knew his dad," Mattox said. "Tyler hadn't grown into this body yet. But he was coachable and he wants to play well."

After playing on the freshman team, Tyler made the varsity as a sophomore, played in 21 games and averaged 5.5 points per game, shot .577 percent from the field and .767 from the free-throw line.

He started 6 of 22 games as a junior, averaging 4.9 points and this year he has played well following his huge opener.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Work ethic, hustle best describes the 6-foot, 5 inch Tyler Torosian's success on the basketball court.

In 9 games, he leads the team with a 20.7 points average and 14 steals and is second in rebounds (6.8). He continues to shoot well, hitting .595 from the field, .350 from 3-point range and .692 from the free-throw line.

He has scored in double figures every game, following the opener (44 points) with totals of 13, 14, 26, 10, 17, 10, 23 and 29. He has also been consistent in rebounding, grabbing 10 7,7, 5, 6, 7, 2, 9 and 8.

When the Vikings defeated Greendale, 57-48, on Dec. 8, it was their first win against a Woodland West opponent since Mattox took over and Torosian had 26 points in the game.

"He's a gym rat, a serviceable big man," Mattox said. He likes running, he can dunk, pick and roll. What I like about him the most is he has the versatility to guard multi-positions. He is a tough kid with a nose for the basketball.

"He has a knack for getting involved. I had no idea he had set a school scoring record in that first game. We did not run one play for him. He has no ego, he just wants to play. He's a team guy, I love coaching him. I told him to be physical, that's OK. He does have to be more consistent at the free-throw line. That part of his game must continue to evolve."

Torosian was candid when he talked about his strengths and weaknesses.

​"I'm good at finishing around the basket and I'm a decent rebounder for not being big and wide (he weights only 180). I'm pretty good at that. I also enjoy running the court in transition.

"But I need to work on my all around defense. I feel that's not the strongest part of my game. I'm working on quickness, keeping guys in front of me, trying to guard smaller defenders."

One thing Mattox doesn't have to worry about is Torosian slacking off.

"I love the game so much, I try to get better at it everyday," Tyler said. I like shooting around after practice, just going hard all the time. I try to out work everyone else, getting better, working in the off-season, lifting weights, putting shots up. I'm working on basketball all the time."

For a big man, Tyler loves the transition game.

"I enjoy running the court instead of being in a half-court setup," he said. "When I'm up the court, passing everyone else, even when they have a guard back, it's hard for the guard to stop someone who is 6-5, if they're smaller - even 6-1 - it's hard to stop me."

Both Tyler and Joe Robey are team captains and Tyler is happy to take on the responsibilities.

"Being a captain you need to bring leadership," he said. "With me and Joe - we're two of the four seniors - we have to make sure to hold guys accountable for what's going on. For stepping up when the team needs us, being an overall leader.

"It's important to me being a captain. I've always been a quieter guy. This year has been a little bit of a change, taking charge, leading the rest of the guys. We're a younger team. We have like five juniors, five sophomores.

"I wouldn't say I'm the most vocal guy, but I think I lead by example in practice, running drill to drill, not walking around, making guys follow by example."

But earlier this year, Mattox saw a different side of Tyler when New Berlin West was trailing West Allis Central by one point at half time.

"We were losing and I felt we played a really bad half," Tyler said. "We should have been up. We really weren't rebounding well at all. They were just out hustling us. I just wanted to get guys pumped up to go out there and just win it."

West went on to beat the Bulldogs, 68-63, outscoring them, 41-35, in the second half.

Mattox laughed when I asked what kind of kid was Tyler off the court.

"He's kind of a goof ball," he said. "He has this big Russian fur hat he wears. He's playful, but real laid back. He's a different kid. I love coaching him. He's very social. I think he has a bright future."

Torosian has been happy with the direction of the program under Mattox.

"I think the program as made tremendous steps since I was a freshman," he said. "We only on two games when I was a freshman and now last year we had our first season with double digit wins in four or five seasons.

"Coach Mattox is just doing a great job. We're just trying to change the culture. He knows what he's talking about. He's a great guy. Before every game he preaches about wanting it more. You want to lay everything out there. It's good motivational stuff."​


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Pizza
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   ​Mainstream Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   ​​Horror.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Walking Dead'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   ​History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   ​Phoenix, Arizona
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Watch TV, sleep  or hang with friends
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   ​New Berlin Eisenhower
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   ​Scoring a school record 44 points in this year's opener.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend UW-Whitewater, play basketball and study Business



If the Brookfield Central boys basketball team hopes to defend their Greater Metro Conference Championship and make a return trip to the state tournament in Madison, a lot will depend on the Lancers top returning senior - Andres Peralta-Werns.

When people who aren't close to the program think of the Lancers, they think of two juniors - point guard Gage Malensek or forward and defensive stopper Cole Nau.

But the play and the enthusiasm of Peralta-Werns will play a key role in the Lancers success.

The 6-foot-3 inch, 190 pound swing man (guard/forward) averaged 16.7 points per game in the early going, shooting .455 from the field and .333 from 3-point range. He was second on the team last season, averaging 15 points per game and was third in rebounds (3.7). 

Where as Peralta-Werns is known for his long-range shooting, he can put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop and improved his defense as well, putting together a well-rounded game.

Brookfield Central coach Dan Wandrey saw good things from Andres early in his career.

"I always thought he had a lot of ability, especially offensively," Wandrey said. "His sophomore year when he played with us on the varsity, he had a handful of explosive games. Really, what I was most impressed with with Andres was from his sophomore until his junior year he really focused in on what we asked him to do.

Photo by Alan Herzberg , SportsPhotoLLC --- Senior Andres Peralta-Werns has improved his game the last three seasons, adding defense and taking the ball to the basket to his long-range shooting arsenal.

"He's a better defender, a better rebounder, he has a better shot selection and he takes better care of the ball. You saw the improvement he made last year averaging 15 points a game, his most impressive year as he had some of his best games. He's been really good that way."

Andres considers that one of his strong points.

"One of my main strengths is I'm very coachable and I'm good at adapting to what people want me to do," he said. "People don't really know this, but I spend - right now as a senior - I spend 2-3 hours a day with my dad (Glen) playing basketball.

"He is a really good coach. He is one of these people I can't correct because he's right about what he says. When people tell me something I have a mindset of what they want now in a basketball perspective. I can comprehend what they're saying."

Ironically, Wandrey first became aware of Peralta-Werns because of his sister, Alejandra, who played for him when he was the girls coach.

"His sister played in the girls program when I was coaching there, so I knew him from middle school," Wandrey recalled. "When I accepted the boys position, he was in eighth grade. I had the opportunity to watch him play a little bit then. He made our JV team right away as a freshman. I knew who he was because of the family connection. Obviously it's not on your radar when you're coaching girls."

Andres started playing in the fifth grade with the Jr. Lancers. He only made the 'B' team, so he went out for club basketball. He played with the Ballers, a Menomonee Falls team, until early ninth grade. He played on a 17U team when he was only in eighth grade.

"I wanted to try and get better and make the 'A' team eventually. I played in the summer and a couple times played in the fall before basketball season. It was a really good way for me to work on my abilities. I wanted to get the experience and stuff, get better, scoring, running up and down the court. When I got into high school, playing club was more for recruiting purposes. Everyone wants to see you play AAU and also wants to see you play high school."

He has an uncanny knack for being able to score. In some ways he reminds me of Andrew Bruggink who played for us a few year’s ago. They kind of came to us as shooters – Andres was a really good 3-point shooter, a really good long-range shooter. As people started taking that away, he improved the other parts of his game.”

--- Dan Wandrey

Wandrey was very complimentary about Peralta-Werns' skills and compared him to a former GMC Player of the Year.

"He has an uncanny knack for being able to score. In some ways he reminds me of Andrew Bruggink who played for us a few year's ago," Wandrey said. "They kind of came to us as shooters - Andres was a really good 3-point shooter, a really good long-range shooter.

"As people started taking that away, he improved the other parts of his game. Is he a finished product? Of course he's not; he's only a senior in high school. You look at the way he's played this year and what I've seen in the off-season in the summer. He can finish getting to the rim and he has a nice mid-range game."

Peralta-Werns is always look to improve and he talked about what he needs to work on.

"Two things I want to get better at are athleticism and defense," he said. "Everyone loves to score. That's something that everybody in this generation picks up. They can shoot the ball or dribble the ball or make good passes. But a lot of people forget about the defensive side of it. I'm not the most athletic guy so any time we play a team I always try to get up there and compete at the level they've at."

Wandrey see an important area Andres can help the Lancers with.

"I think an important key for us with him is to be a better rebounder," he said. "When I say better, what I mean most is consistent, because he shows he can do it. We just need him to do it a little bit more regularly. He's gotten a little bigger, a little stronger and I think that helps him in those areas too. His ability to go to the basket - that's something he really improved on."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotosLLC --- When you think of Andres Peralta-Werns, you think of his impressive long-range shot.

Wandrey then had an interesting theory, comparing Andres to a good golfer.

"Just offensively, having that knack to score. He has a great short memory, but not in a bad way. Good scorers and shooters like good putters have short memories," Wandrey said. "I play golf.    If I miss a 3-foot put on the second hole, I don't want that hanging around me for the next 15. Andres has it. The game over at Tosa East last year sticks in my mind. He shot a very poor percentage, but late in the game, we're down by one or two points and he takes the ball to the rim and makes a basket and then makes a 3-pointer after going like 3-for-15. He makes that basket and it's one of the most important baskets of the game.

"In a good way that short memory - 'I'm not going to let it get to me' - is a good thing too."

Andres then spoke about something that is important to him - leadership.

"It's a thing that everyone should have, everyone should take ownership on what they should do," he said. "Overall perception is everyone's part of the team, so no one can blame others.

"I like working with young players. My dad told me respect the people that are older than you and respect people who are younger. When they're older, they're going to remember you (and how you treated them). When they look up to you, they want to say I want to be just like him. You don't want them to have any negative view on you and they also don't want to pick up any negative habits."

Wandrey feels Andres is on the right path.

"What I like about Andres is he is a very pleasant person, just a great kid," he said. "I wasn't sure how to take him when he was a freshman. He was always 'Thank you coach, Yes coach.' As I watched him, he's been on the team now where we've had a couple freshman when he was a sophomore - we have a couple freshman now when he's a senior. I think this is a great form of leadership - he treats those guys well. He wants them to be successful. He wants them to be an important part of our team. He looks for ways to help them and make them feel comfortable and I think that's really important.

"Even though your captains aren't seniors, I've talked to my seniors and said 'It doesn't mean you can't be a leader.'

Andres’ personality is another way he influences the Lancers.

"In some fun quirky ways at the end of practice, Andres is the guy who 'claps it up,' gets everybody fired up. He's got that vivacious personality of being up and keeping the crowd up with him."


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Tamales
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'White Men Can't Jump.'  Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Friends'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   ​History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   ​Sinoloa, Mexico, mom's hometown
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Watch TV or go watch other sports
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   ​Fans reaction when team came out before game in sectional final.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend college​, play basketball and study Physical Therapy



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.


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.


  • 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


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."


  • FAVORITE FOOD:   Steak
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   Hip-Hop, Country
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   'Fury.'  Action movies
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   Social Studies
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:   Sleep or workout
  • 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
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