WRENSHALL NEWS: Raptors Zywicki named coach of the year
November 15, 2019
Wrenshall coach Jeremy Zywicki was recently named coach of the year for the 9 Man North White district of the Minnesota State High School Football League for his work this year with the new Carlton/Wrenshall Raptors. This honor prompted me to check in with Coach Zywicki and co-coach Jason Crane. The two led the team to an 8-0 record in the regular season.
According to Zywicki, the accomplishment is due in large part to the positive, hard-working students who made the dream of this season a reality.
"The students wanted this for so long," Zywicki said. "We had kids attending board meetings; they were the ones really pushing for this merger and they really flourished. If you were a bystander you would never have realized that this was the first year that these two teams played together as one."
Crane echoed this sentiment.
"We had a group of really wonderful student leaders," he said. "They were really good kids who stepped up and led the team with as much passion as Jeremy and myself. Over the whole season we had absolutely zero problems from a discipline perspective; these students were able to take on a new team as well as a new system of play with grace and confidence. They built meaningful relationships on and off the field."
I asked both coaches how they were able to set the tone for such a positive attitude from players. Zywicki pointed out that there was a whole merged coaching staff for the team: joining him and Crane were defensive and JV coach Luke Wargin, JV coach Nick Moran, and parent volunteer Kent Hammit, who gave his time freely every afternoon to see this year's team succeed.
"We all took in what each of us individually could bring to the table and figured out how to provide give and take," Zywicki said. "We all came together really well."
For Crane, coaching is about teaching the basics of foot positions and body positions, and the intricacies of fundamental skills, then allowing plenty of opportunities to reinforce those skills with practice and repetition.
Zywicki sees the lessons learned in football as translating to success in the real world.
"At the heart of athletics is learning how to overcome challenges," he said. "I want my players to understand that they are accountable for their actions - both on and off the field. I want them to see that hard work, dedication and commitment matter."
When I asked each to share their thoughts on next year's season they both were hesitant to make predictions.
Crane is honest in his assessment: "We continue to see some great development of athletes, but we're also going to have some big holes to fill."
Whatever comes the Raptors' way, Zywicki says they all look forward to meeting those challenges head on.