Lions' Schmidt earns Coach of the Year honor
Team has two state trips in three years, four straight conference titles
New Berlin - New Berlin Eisenhower girls basketball coach Gary Schmidt is always dressed to the nines, wearing suits that would look good working an NBA sideline. He has hair that would make Jimmy Johnson jealous.
When the classy Schmidt speaks, the words race out of his mouth, like his team going for another fast break basket. Schmidt just finished his 11th season coaching girls basketball after six seasons as an assistant on the boys side. The Lions have won four straight Woodland Conference championships and five of the last six.
They have been to state two of the last three years, winning it all in 2010 and losing in the finals this season.
Long winning streaks
With the loss to New London in the finals, the Lions had their 27-game winning streak snapped, but they still have a 39-game winning streak going in the Woodland Conference, having last lost Jan. 10, 2010, to Pewaukee at home. Their last conference road loss goes back to Jan. 31, 2008, at Pewaukee, a stretch of 35 straight wins.
The numbers are ridiculous these past four years.
The Lions are 64-3, a .955 winning percentage in the Woodland Conference. That marks drops to .903 overall, as they have won 93 of 103 games in that span.
As a result, Schmidt was named the NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Coach of the Year for his efforts, amazingly a first-time honor for him.
"I'm really honored, but I'm grateful for them (his team)," he said. "I never thought about it (winning the award)."
In fact, 11 years ago when the Eisenhower head coaching position opened for the girls basketball team, Schmidt never thought about applying.
"I love coaching kids, but I never thought of myself for the job," said Schmidt, who was an assistant coach with the boys. "I wasn't in the forefront."
Approached to apply
But Schmidt was approached to apply for the opening - he had coached his daughter, Stacy, in seventh-eighth grade - so he thought maybe it would be a good time.
"They (administration) took me off guard when they asked, so I told them I would think about," Schmidt recalled. "Then (athletic director) Mike Wilson called me and said they hired a head coach - and it was me."
It turned out that Wilson, who is now in a similar position with Wisconsin Lutheran College, made the right decision.
"He's a great coach," said senior Nicole Bauman. "He's always there on the court, off the court. He understands the girls. He understands that their emotions are different than guys.
"He always thinks about us, puts us first in everything he does. It's been a great four years for me."
Schmidt has never looked back.
"It was a wonderful feeling. I haven't regretted it," he said. "I thanked him (Wilson) for giving me the opportunity. I appreciated it. I wanted to win to make him and the school proud.
"This is an honor entrusted me. I love kids. I would never cheat these kids."
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