By Nick DeBaker, Kohler MS/HS Principal
As a newcomer, it doesn’t take long to learn a few things about this community:
- There is an immense amount of community pride (and rightfully so).
- There is strong support for our schools (which is much appreciated).
- And there are no stronger traditions (academic or athletic) than the ones we celebrate here.
In fact, Kohler is a community built on traditions. In the classroom, our students thrive and excel, as we’re consistently ranked as one of the top school districts in the State. On the athletic fields, our teams compete at the highest level, working hard and learning essential life skills they will use throughout their lifetime.
The value of athletics in schools is significant. Sports can have a profound impact on students and communities as athletics bridges gaps, brings people together and provides so many opportunities for student-athletes.
To be honest, growing up, it was sports that propelled me to where I am today. Sure, my classes were important and I did my homework (for the most part). But, I went to class and did what I needed to do because I wanted to play basketball. And I knew that if I didn’t, I couldn’t play. My family and I moved to Racine from Sheboygan when I was 10 years old. My brothers and I started a new school, made new friends and found ourselves playing basketball on an entirely different level. Youth basketball in Racine is intense. And coming from Sheboygan, it was a bit intimidating. But, our father taught us to never give up on something and so we continued to play and work hard. I went on to play basketball in high school and still remember some of those games as if they were yesterday. In fact, I still have my varsity jacket… pins and all with the words Case Eagles spread across the back. I always smile when I see it. And I still am proud to say I was an Eagle all those years ago.
That’s school pride, and school pride makes for a more positive school environment. The comradery and togetherness created can almost be magical. In Kohler, we don’t have to look far to find examples of this. I remember my first year as principal, I attended a home football game versus rival Howards Grove. I had heard that this game was a big one, but what I witnessed was so much more. Both student sections were packed – and many, if not all students, were dressed in white. Any time there was a big play, white baby powder filled the air. It was the “white out game”, a tradition known by many in Kohler. This was something I have never experienced before and immediately knew Kohler’s athletic traditions were a significant part of the Kohler community. By the end of that game my family and I were completely covered in white! We all left with smiles on our faces and a sense of pride in this new community of ours as we watched everyone in attendance rally around their team.
That’s the power of athletics. Students put their individual differences aside to chant and cheer for their team. And for our athletes, I am sure there’s nothing more encouraging or motivating than seeing a full student section, all rooting for you.
Throughout the years we’ve had the pleasure to host playoff games and meets on our home courts and fields. Our student-athletes take pride in sharing their athletic facilities with neighboring communities and sport their home colors with great enthusiasm. Kohler Schools are fortunate to offer more sports than most school districts our size because we understand the value that athletics brings to a community.
We have so much to offer our student-athletes at Kohler, from white-out and powder puff games, to newly renovated turf fields and State send-offs. Whether playing or cheering on a classmate, athletics bring a sense of belonging and pride to our students. I know as the next generation of Kohler student-athletes comes through the ranks, our traditions and positive culture will only grow stronger.