Longtime Appleton East boys’ soccer coach Tom Wanamaker decided to resign from his position on Friday.
Wanamaker, 49, had a 231-154-37 record in 21 years coaching the Patriots. He led East to an undefeated Fox Valley Association season in 1998 and helped guide it to the WIAA state tournament in 1995, 1997 and 1999.
Wanamaker was also the head coach at West De Pere (1998-99) and was the Appleton East girls’ coach at Appleton East from 1994 to 1996.
“It will be difficult to replace a coach who has been involved in East athletics for so many years,” Appleton East activities/athletic director Tim Zachow said. “Coach Wanamaker has spend 21 years as the head coach, not only teaching the game of soccer but teaching athletes life lessons that can be used in life beyond the game of soccer. Nowadays, it is difficult to find coaches who are willing to commit the time necessary to run a varsity program and Tom has done it for the past 21 years.”
East has struggled the past few seasons, but Wanamaker said he felt those seasons were still a success because he had the opportunity to have a lot of fun working the players and that the “prospect of losing that interaction outside the classroom is what made the decision so difficult.”
But Wanamaker also said that the desire to spend more time with his family was a contributing factor to his resignation.
“My coaching style has always been ‘hands on’ and my body doesn’t tolerate the effect of daily practices as well as it used to,” Wanamaker said. “Head coaches are hired to work a three-month season, but there is a growing expectation that we run a program 12 months out of the year. For most of the past 27 years, I have coached one or two high school teams, one or two club teams and I’ve volunteered as a board member of the Neenah Soccer Club.
“These commitments have affected everything from daily dinners to family vacations. With our son a senior in college, our daughter a senior in high school and my parents’ declining health, we would like to take the opportunity to spend some time together before it’s gone forever.”
Wanamaker said that he will continue to teach science classes at Appleton East, which he has done since 1990.
“I have had a few challenging players and parents over the years, but the vast majority have been loyal and supportive,” Wanamaker said. “I can say the same thing about my athletic directors and administration going all the way back to Stan Ore and Dick Fahrenholz.
“Looking back, I am proud to have been associated with Appleton East and I will always root for the Patriot soccer teams.”
Wanamaker also left open the possibility of returning to coaching once his family life has settled.
“Maybe in the future,” he said. “We’ll see how my parents are doing and when my kids are all the way through and out of the house and college.”
— Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or email@example.com; On Twitter@PCRicardo