Coaching Legend Taraska Steps DownMay 11, 2011
Yes, I went to Arrowhead. No, I didn’t play football.
There, now that that’s out of the way, let me give you my thoughts on the retirement of football coach Tom Taraska.
The guy was a legend in the high school football scene. Plain and simple. He compiled a 248-76 record while leading the Warhawks, a 76.5% winning slate. Four state titles and five runner-up appearances at Camp Randall have ensured he’ll always have a spot in history at Arrowhead (if his name on the stadium didn’t do that already).
He holds state records for State Championship Game appearances (9) and Playoff victories (47) and is on the top-10 list of winningest coaches in the state.
So why is a guy that’s done so well for himself and countless others so hated?
You can hate the luxury boxes that soar above the field in the $2.4 million press box. You can hate the Field Turf that was installed a few years back. And you can hate the Warhawks team for whatever they do on the field. But don’t hate Taraska. All the guy’s done is sacrificed nearly every second of his life to help kids grow up with the sport of football.
Ask Nick Hayden. The 2004 graduate of Arrowhead went on to a stellar career with the Wisconsin Badgers and is now playing on Sundays (that is, if the lockout ever ends) with the Carolina Panthers.
“Coach T taught me how to believe in my talents at a young age. He believed in me and without a great coach like him I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Drew Meyer wouldn’t mind following in Hayden’s steps. Meyer will graduate this June and head to Wisconsin to try to win the punting job after Brad Nortman leaves in 2012. Seven years apart; same sentiment.
“Playing for Coach Taraska was an honor and privilege. He is a true legend in every sense. He helped us all grow as athletes, but more importantly as maturing young men. He knew how to maximize our potential, but keep things relaxed. Coach T has a great sense of humor that helped keep football fun. His knowledge of the game is unmatchable.”
So ease up on the hate and take some time to celebrate all that Taraska gave high school football in the state of Wisconsin. Numbers and money alone do not win football games. Taraska took what he was given back in 1982, worked with it, and grew it into what it is today – a football powerhouse.
He’s retiring to spend more time with his wife, since for the past 29 years (and 5 days after they got married), it’s been all football, all the time. Taraska said the program is in great hands, and that the freshman and sophomore teams are undefeated in both basketball and football. The future is bright for the Warhawks, and it’s because of him.
You don’t have to like Taraska, but you should respect him.
**Taraska is just the latest in the string of legendary coaches stepping down across the state. Within the past year, Dick Basham of Marquette (350 wins), Phil Datka of Germantown (280), and Wayne Steffenhagen of D.C. Everest (278) have all called it quits, as did Steve Jorgensen of Kimberly (152).