There’s nothing like winning a state title
Caledonia and Bangor know the feeling.
But there was a time when state championship glory was a distant thought.
“I was the head coach back from ’94 to ’97 and it was pretty low at that time. I think the first year I took over we had one win,” said Bangor head coach Kevin Kravik.
Caledonia didn’t see a breakthrough until 2003.
“We were up and down. We’d lose to some real bad teams and beat some really good teams. We just couldn’t be consistent. Our kids, in my humble opinion, didn’t make football a priority in their life,” said Caledonia head coach Carl Fruechte.
To get to a higher level, Kravik, Freuchte and their coaching staffs had to get players to “buy in” to the program.
“In our system it’s buying in to the weight room and it’s all done in the summer time. If the kids feel good about what they’ve done over the course of the summer it really carries over into the fall,” said Kravik.
“I think you have to have kids who want to stay clean. They don’t want to be out partying. They don’t want to be doing the drug scene. Because if they’re doing that then they don’t want to get into the weight room,” said Fruechte.
“In Bangor, we’ve been in a slow decline for enrollment and it’s participation. We need to get the kids out and it gives them something to do. Stay away from the job, stay away from the video games and these kids now have grown up together and played all kinds of ball together and it’s the participation numbers that really help us out,” said Kravik.
“We’re trying to sell that football is bigger than just the game. We’re trying to teach a lifestyle. How eat clean, live clean, do the right thing, how to have a great work ethic, how to overcome adversity. It’s all the things we believe the game brings. That helps you when you get married and have kids and have struggles at jobs,” Fruechte said.
“So it’s a bigger picture.”
“Buy in” though has to be a group effort.
By that, the community needs to “buy in” as well.
“We have mothers that come back for our Thursday night meal, they had kids who graduated maybe two or three years ago. They’re still helping out. They’re still volunteering their time. We have fathers, we do the Cardinal Walk before every game, and as we come out of the locker room towards the field, there’s got to be 100-200 people there,” said Kravik.
“When the boys go up town, you want the business person to say ‘Hey, we’re proud of you. Keep working hard. Keep listening.’ It just reinforces what we’re trying to say. It gives the young man pride in his community,” Fruechte said.
State championship trophies are a wonderful thing.
But in the end, for these two, that’s not the reward.
“To see a kid get up on stage and get his reward and have tears in his eyes, and then after that, do you ever get kids to want to do stuff in football. Whether it be coaching, volunteering with our program or even playing collegiately, that’s something where you know the love of football is there,” said Kravik.
“They’re all our sons. I’m going to treat you like my son. The good, the bad and the ugly. It means a lot when they call you or send you a card. That’s why you coach, really,” said Fruechte.