History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.
History and Folklore!
It’s no secret that Greendale is a wonderful place to raise a family. You hear it from long time residents who raised a family in Greendale, from former kids who grew up in Greendale, and from kids who grew up in Greendale, moved away, and then moved back once they started a family. But what specifically does ‘a great place to raise a family’ really mean. Well, part of the explanation can be attributed to ‘Greendale All-American Youth Football Team, Inc.’. Huh you say? Football? Let me explain.
This younger generation is the ‘connected’ generation. They walk around looking like creatures from outer space, with wires coming out of their heads, gizmos strapped to their belts, looking into screen displays of strange things, talking out loud and typing while walking….alone! While all this is true, approximately 120 kids every fall set down this nonsense and suit up for battle. They play football because the opporutnity is there. Another 75 kids cheer them on. In Greendale parents and coaches, all volunteers, team up to provide the organization for these kids to have fun and participate in this wonderful group activity.
Greendale Youth Football was established in 1953, which means it will be 50 years old in 2013. In 1992 new leadership was needed to keep the program going. That’s when Dick Olsen, Ron Huenke and Jerry Meyers stepped in. All were in their 50’s, did not have kids in the program, but believed in community service. Since then Greendale Youth Football has been in a golden era. They believed in the value of the program, and their enthusiasm was passed on to the kids. But it did not happen by accident.
Early in January every year a presentation is made at the 3 grade schools and the middle school about the program. Based on the signups in February of this year, 4 teams will be fielded in 2012. There is an ‘A’ team for eight graders, ‘B’ team for 7 graders, ‘C’ team for sixth graders, and a ‘D’ team for fifth graders. A total of seventeen volunteer coaches make it possible to field these 4 teams. Practice starts in August, and games start in September. There are 4 home and 4 away games played on Saturdays
thru the end of October. In August the teams practice from 5:00PM until 7:00PM Monday thru Thursday and then on Saturday. Once school starts the practices are from 5:00PM until 7:00PM three days a week and then the game on Saturday. I mention the times because these kids have to work hard to participate, and there are no electronics allowed during practice or games! Yea!
All the football equipment is provided, except the shoes. Not that it is all free. There is a registration fee, and a requirement to sell raffle tickets. But Greendale’s cost is the lowest in the region. That’s because of the fund raising efforts of everyone involved. The organization runs a concession stand with a wide variety and changing menu of foods. A real favorite is the ‘walking taco’ comprised of crunched up Fritos, ground beef, cheese etc. in a bag eaten with a spoon. Yum-ski! There is also an annual Brat Fry. This year’s ‘Fry’ is this Friday, August 2nd from 5:00PM until 10:00PM at the American Legion, 6351 W. Grange Ave.
Three other really neat things I want to mention about this organization. First, Greendale Youth Football gives back to the community in many other ways, not just by giving kids an opportunity to participate in a fun activity. They award scholarships to graduating high school kids who participated in football and achieve a certain GPA. In 2012 4 scholarships were awarded to Brett Nethery, Drake Barczak, Kennedy Ringleberg and Brandon Kais. They also provide funds to the Reading Buddies program at the grade schools, the Village parades, buy football equipment and built and maintain
the football building on the grounds of Brinkman field. In 2008 they donated $17,000 for the new football field. Wow!
Second, even more young kids can join the fun of practicing and going to the games because in recent years cheerleader squads have been organized. That provides non-football participation for classmates and siblings. If you’re going to be at the game anyway because the family is going, you might as well yell your brains out!
Finally, every year there is an end of season banquet for players, volunteers, and families. It has become so large that recently it was held at Serb Hall. There are special awards given out for Most Valuable player on offense, defense etc. But most importantly, every kid gets a trophy. Playing Greendale Youth Football gives kids a chance to play with other kids, a chance to be a part of a team, and something the entire family gets involved in. That’s one reason why Greendale is a great place to raise a family.
2012 Greendale Youth Football Board of Directors:
Gerald G. Meyers, Mark Kapocius, Vito Kapocius, Robert Debelak, Jeramy Melka, Matt Barczak, Diane Meyers, Glenn Haumschild, John Bailen, Patrick Schuster,Carla Gilmore, Cheerleader Director and Melissa Seebantz, Cheerleader Advisor
But did you know?
The football field that the high school and the youth teams play on is named “Stephen J. Gavinski Memorial Stadium”. I suspected that he
was associated with Greendale football, but the name did not ring a bell with me. So I did an online search and I found an excellent story on the Greendale Panther Touchdown Club website written by Rodney Mattrisch. Greendale Panther Touchdown Club - Programs - The Steve Gavinski Story Rodney played football for Greendale when Steve Gavinski was the head varsity football coach, and was on his coaching staff right before he passed away. I also found articles in the Village Life reporting on his passing and his funeral.
Steve graduated with a BSE in Education from Whitewater in 1970. He started teaching in the fall of that year at Greendale’s College Park Elementary School. He also joining the football staff and in 1982 Steve became the head varsity coach. The hard work by the football staff and teams turned to success with 3 Conference Championships in 1984, 1986, and 1987. Then in the winter of 1987 it was discovered that he had cancer. Over the next 4 years he would receive treatment for that cancer, seem to get better, then have the cancer show up in a new place. He continued to coach as much as possible, but died on August 28th, 1991, just 2 days before the season opener.
The Village Life reported that the Greendale Superintendent Dr. William Knapp closed down the entire school that next Friday, the first time that had ever been done for a funeral. The service at Holy Apostles Catholic Church was packed with family, friends, associates, former and current
players and students. The entire Greendale Panther football team sat in the front all wearing their brand new jerseys for the upcoming season. Steve was only 43 years old, and was survived by his wife Sue, son Timothy and daughter Sarah.
It was obvious that Steve loved working with young people and they in turn had great affection for him. He was devoted to his family, respected by his fellow teachers, and a friend to many. In the fall of 1992 the Greendale School Board approved a resolution naming the football field in his honor the “Stephen J. Gavinski Memorial Stadium”. Now, attending an event at the stadium or hearing the name mentioned will have a little extra meaning for me, and I hope for you also.
People, Past & Present!
Gerald (Jerry) G. Meyers, Greendale School Class of 1958
I first met Jerry in April of this year when I was doing research for my story on the Greendale Jaycees (Week#67). He was member of the Jaycees before it disbanded and now is a ‘Rooster’. After that initial meeting I found myself regularly bumping into him while doing stories on the history of Village Government and Village Organizations. It is not unusual to find people in Greendale who volunteer endless hours of their time to make Greendale a special place to live. But Jerry intrigues me because of the volume and variety of his public service and volunteering.
Until he retired he spent most of his days in the banking sector. He logged 27 years with Security Bank SSB and retired as a bank officer. However, before and after he retired it seems he’s always been involved with multiple committees and organizations at the same time. My guess is that he is very organized. I know whenever I ask him for information or pictures I don’t have to ask twice. If I call him with a question he can usually answer it without having to check and get back to me. I don’t know how he does that. It’s obviously a gift.
Currently Jerry is the President of the Board of Directors of Greendale Youth Football. I asked him why he has spent the last 20 years volunteering with this program. He replied “It’s neat to see kids progress thru the program and high school. Lots of coaches now went thru the program. It’s a rewarding experience.” I suspect another reason Jerry has continued with Greendale Youth Football is because of his wife Diane. She shares his passion for the organization and they work as a team along with the other volunteers making sure everything runs smoothly.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and also say that Jerry is kind of a ‘social butterfly’. He’s got tons of friends, and enjoys the camaraderie. Belonging to all these activities keeps him in touch with these many friends. Another hub for his networking with everyone is Ray & Dots. One of his guilty pleasures is carrying around in his pants pocket a hand full of ‘drink chips’. His drink chip stash is second to none. Friends are constantly offering to buy him drinks, which Ray & Dots converts to a drink chip. He can’t possibly use them up and doesn’t want to. It’s just a way for people to thank him for what he does for the community and families, and a way for Jerry to acknowledge their appreciation.
We salute Jerry, and all the other Jerry’s who have the ‘Greendale Spirit’. Their unselfish volunteering is what makes Greendale a great place to raise a family.
Gerard G. Meyers Service Activites
- Village Trustee 1974-1980, 1999 -2001
- Village President 1980-1982
- Served on Police, Fire and Public Works Negotiation Teams
- Served on standing Village Board Committees (Finance, Welfare and Safety, and Public Works)
- Public Celebrations Committee 1966-1974 (Chairman), 2002-2005 (Fund Raising Chairman)
- 50th Anniversary Committee 1987-1988 (Treasurer)
- Planning Commission 1993-1999
- Village Days Parade Sub-Committee 1995-2002
- Served on the CDA 2001 to 2006
- Greendale Jaycees & Roosters 1963 to present holding various offices, including Wisconsin State Jaycee Vice President and Assistant to the State President
- Greendale Youth Football 1991 to present serving as Treasurer, Acting President and President
- Sons of American Legion, Post 416 – Greendale 1991 to present serving as Finance Officer, Adjutant and Commander
- Winterfest – Casino Nite – Chairman and Co-Chairman 1998 to 2010
- Cub Scouts – Committee Chairman
- Flag Football Referee
Greendale Trivia Question and Answer:
Answer & Week#53 Question – Seems last week’s question was
a stumper. The question was: Where’s the best place to get fresh fish in Greendale? So you get another chance, and here’s a hint. The fish are still ‘breathing’.
** Week #53 contributors Sally Chadwick, Rodney Mattrisch, Greendale Village Life, Gerald Meyers.