As people may know, Pierz football is once again headed to the Prep Bowl (Nov. 30) after finishing an undefeated season. But perhaps what isn’t revealed in the spotlight is all the hard work, effort, countless hours of teaching strong ethics and high standards of a student program that has not only turned out winning teams, but more importantly, great humans: built on trust, accountability and respect.

From Coach Jeremy Monson: “Pierz Football has a group of coaches that are unselfish leaders. They put in hard work, they are clear and consistent of student athletes expectations, not only in academics, but as football players as well. We are all on the same page as far as style of play and teach the kids the same things year after year so that they can develop and get good at skills and plays taught. We know our roles, and we have open minds and are able to discuss success or failures with each other and not feel judged.

“Leaving here (Pierz) and going to college elsewhere, then teaching/coaching elsewhere, makes me have a new appreciation for this program. What I took for granted, or didn’t even think about: the things Pierz coaches do for the athletes are not commonplace throughout all programs. We have a great system and process. We hold student athletes to a high standard and follow through with the expectations we set.”

Supt. George Weber relates successful coaching to motivated teaching: “Teaching how to perform a sport is not unlike teaching any other subject area. You have to break learning into chunks the students can understand and replicate successfully. You have to motivate the student to continually try to improve in each area. You have to show you care and motivate students to perform their very best. Pierz football coaches happen to be among the best teachers. They relate to teenagers, show great care for them as people and learners, see technical details of their subject area that many in their profession do not see, and they find ways to motivate students to keep improving.”

Long-time coach and Activities Director Dave Rocheleau said, “Another reason for the program’s success is having a coaching staff who have worked together for many years. The tone for hard work, respect, accountability and sportsmanship is set early on in our program, starting in seventh grade. Having the coaches together for so many years creates an environment in which the kids know what to expect from their coaches and each other every day, every year.”

An example of hard work, respect and doing things the “right way,” comes through in an email from Vern Capelle, who was an official at the game when Pierz played Albany (he is also superintendent of Upsala Area School District).

His email read: “Wow — what an amazing football game! The score certainly was not indicative of the game. Congratulations to both programs on the accomplishments of this season and wishing the Pioneers good luck moving forward. More importantly, I wanted to let you know how impressed our crew was with both teams and coaching staffs during the game Friday night. There were numerous examples of great sportsmanship (too many to list) and excellent fundamental football. As a crew, we felt very privileged to be a part of the game. This was truly one of the best games that we have had the good fortune to officiate. Please pass this along to Coach Kleinschmidt and Coach Saehr and the rest of the coaching staffs. Both programs definitely are doing things ‘the right way.’ Your districts clearly have football programs that they can be proud of … which was evident in the stands Friday night.”

Before students broke for the Thanksgiving holiday, Pioneer football players sat down with fifth and sixth graders from Pioneer and Holy Trinity to talk to them about hard work, respect and good sportsmanship. Through a panel-type discussion and classroom visits, they answered questions from the kids and even signed autographs as requested. They took time to be present with a pretty excited group of elementary kids who look up to these young men as role models. And role model is not a title these young student athletes take lightly. This act of taking time out to connect with youth reiterates the backbone of Pierz programs: a sense of pride in community.

Congratulations to the student athletes, coaches, families and the entire Pierz and surrounding communities. It is the hard work, dedication, love, support, respect and accountability from everyone that creates successful students, teams, schools and communities. We have so much to be thankful for. Go Pioneers!

Heidi Thielen is in charge of the technology/communications program for Pierz Schools.

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