Late this week, Two Rivers head football coach Brent Luebke officially stepped down from his post to become a teacher as well as head boys basketball coach at Northland Pines.
Luebke successfully helped guide the Raiders’ program in the right direction. It was a goal that he had for himself long before he was in a position to make it a reality.
A standout during his playing days in the 90s, Luebke was not satisfied with the current condition of the football program, and he wanted to be part of the solution.
“To be honest with you, that was my childhood dream, to come back and turn the program around. When I was in college, I always thought about being part of the staff and it just so happened that the head coaching position opened and I got it.”
Once brought on as the head coach, Luebke seized the opportunity to fulfill his goal.
Prior to hiring Luebke, Two Rivers had not made the playoffs since 1990 and hadn’t won a postseason game since 1982. In six years as head coach, Luebke led Two Rivers to three winning seasons, two playoff appearances and a playoff win.
The foundation for success on the gridiron was built off it. It started with a group of assistant coaches who were insightful in both football and life.
“All the coaches that were on staff throughout the years that have come and gone are all the same type of people: they’re all great people,” Luebke said. “We taught a lot of different positive characteristics that made the kids better kids, better people and then with that the kids really bought into the weight room and the winning stemmed from that.”
The interaction between encouraging coaches and players who were beginning to build confidence remained a key part of the equation moving forward.
“Those guys that came in were just all good people that modeled for our kids. We have guys that are sheriffs, we have lawyers, that are all on the coaching staff. It changed the culture of the kids,” Luebke said. “They realized that these people believed in them and it made the kids believe that they are someone and not just a number.”
Add in a healthy dose of persistence and the wins began to accumulate. After starting out 4-23 in Luebke’s first three seasons, the Raiders are a combined 19-10 the last three years.
“I figured if we kept at it, the tide would turn eventually, and it did,” Luebke said. “It took a long time to do it, but the tables started to turn. The kids just kept believing.”
With that much time and effort put in to helping build a group of young men who were as good off the field as they were on it, leaving Two Rivers will not be easy for Luebke.
“I always called it a ‘football family’ and I’m going to miss everything about it,” Luebke said. “I’ve had kids come up to me in the community since I’ve stepped down that came up and gave me a hug. I’ve had all positive messages and calls from the parents and the players.”
Luebke gained a new perspective after a personal tragedy struck his family last year. His sister’s boyfriend died after suddenly collapsing during a mountain biking race.
“It just made me think a lot about being happy in life. Something like that just made me realize that I accomplished a goal that I always wanted to do, but I also want to move up here and it all came together,” Luebke said. “In short, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that I had.”
Luebke is appreciative of the support he has received from everyone who has been around the program throughout his tenure.
“It was a team effort by the school, community, parents and fans,” Luebke said. “They all bought into it and were part of it.”
Though the man who helped lay the foundation has moved on, he is confident the product he and many others have tirelessly worked to build will stand the test of time.
“I didn’t want to leave the program at a time where the program was going to go possibly down,” Luebke said. “The kids know that it’s in good hands and they have the talent to compete at the highest level.”