When high school football practice begins Aug. 6, Wayne Steffenhagen plans to be on the field for his 50th year in the sport.
The former D.C. Everest football coach, who stepped down after the 2010 campaign, will spend his second season as an assistant with the Evergreens sophomore squad after he was a volunteer assistant with Newman Catholic for a year.
“Coaching to me has always been specialized teaching and helping young men improve,” Steffenhagen said. “It certainly lights your fire a little bit. In your life, you would like to contribute and give back a little bit, and I’m grateful that (Everest coach Luke) Coenen gave me the opportunity to do this. Realistically, it’s a year-to-year thing, but as long as a person’s health hangs in there and they are willing to have you around, then I’ll be doing it. I enjoy it.”
Steffenhagen, who totaled 276 wins, five state championships and 18 conference titles in 33 years with Everest, was recently inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, one of 31 individuals from across the country, and one of two from Wisconsin. Steffenhagen was unable to attend the ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, because of a family commitment, but also was honored during the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association meeting this spring. Former Racine Park football coach Phil Dobbs also was inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame.
“Certainly anytime you’re recognized by your peers, you’re humbled and honored,” said Steffenhagen, who was inducted into the WFCA Hall of Fame in 2002. “But no one person accomplishes these things. It’s the result of having good athletes, good, supportive parents and a wonderful coaching staff that has hung in there and worked hard. Also, the administration has to support you, too.”
Steffenhagen, who also credits the sacrifices his wife, Sondra, and three children have made over the years, said the wins and championships are not the lasting things he holds on to.
“The competition part certainly enters into it, but I would say it’s basically the relationships with the young men and being able to teach and see them grow as a student and an athlete. That’s really the driving force,” Steffenhagen said. “There’s no question that for anyone in this kind of business, it gives you a satisfied lift to see that. It’s not about me; it’s about the student-athletes and the other coaches in the program. I’ve just enjoyed being part of that environment.”