Following the New Berlin Eisenhower boys basketball team's 40-36 win over Little Chute in the New Berlin Classic on Dec. 29 at New Berlin West, Lions coach Dave Scheidegger just wanted to get off the court and get to the locker room.
Not so fast, Dave.
The victory was Scheidegger's 300th in his illustrious 20-year career, and his players, assistant coaches and athletic director had a short presentation planned for him. They handed him team pictures and a signed game ball with "300 victories" inscribed on the leather.
"It was all very humbling," Scheidegger said. "I did not actually know that was the game (he was going for 300 wins). I never really got into this to do those things. I got into it because I liked working with kids and I love sports."
To Scheidegger, whose team improved to 9-0 with the win over a Little Chute and an 81-33 victory over Rhinelander the next day, none of his 301 wins necessarily stand out more than the rest, not even when the Lions won their first-ever state title by beating Adams-Friendship, 54-41, in the Division 2 championship game in 2008.
Players made it happen
What stands out in Scheidegger's mind are the hundreds of players that have laced up their basketball shoes under his watch.
"Basically, they've got to buy in to what you're selling," he said. "We've had a lot of good kids that are responsible for (300 wins). I didn't make a basket or steal a ball or get a rebound. We've just had a lot of players really commit"
Beyond the players are the relationships Scheidegger has formed with assistant coaches and other community members. Mike McKowen has been Scheidegger's assistant for 15 years, and the two talk so often on the phone that when McKowen calls the Scheidegger residence, Scheidegger's daughter, Allison, tells her father that his brother is on the phone.
"And we've had great parents at Eisenhower. I've had parents that don't even have kids at the school that want to coach, want to shoot film for us. For some reason, Eisenhower just attracts these wonderful adults that want to get involved in the community. It's a big endeavor. It's not a one- or two-person job."
Scheidegger said his wife, Donna, and daughter have made many sacrifices to allow him to "go play basketball." That support at home has helped make Scheidegger a rare jewel Eisenhower is lucky to possess. At 54 years old, Scheidegger has coached for more than half his life. Before taking the Eisenhower gig in 1990, he spent 11 years coaching various sports at lower levels at New Berlin West.
'Lifers' are rare
Now, as a coach who has spent his entire two-decade varsity career at one school, Scheidegger represents a dying breed. Of the 13 Woodland Conference coaches, only seven have been head coaches for 10 or more seasons. According to the 2009-10 Wisconsin Men's Basketball Yearbook, 62 high schools across the state switched boys coaches before this season and 73 did so a year ago. Lifers, as Scheidegger called himself, are vanishing.
"It's a big sacrifice," he said. "Whether it's right or wrong, it's gotten to where there is more to it than meets the eyes. I don't know if it's any harder than for the guys that did it 30 years ago, but there's probably more time committed now to do what you want to do because others are putting in more time. If you're going to run with them, you're going to have to step it up.
"Obviously, I've always found it very rewarding. You get a group each year (and) see what kind of basketball they can play."
It's a formula that continues to work for Dave Scheidegger.
Only five current Woodland Conference coaches have 200 or more career
347: Jeff Lewiston, New Berlin West
316: Tim Reuter, Pewaukee
306: Kent Kroupa, Whitnall
301: Dave Scheidegger, Eisenhower
214: John Riggins, South Milwaukee
* as of Monday
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