Mike Sexton will turn 64 later this month and the former Hortonville football coach will receive the type of birthday present that every prep coach dreams of.
Sexton was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame last spring and will be honored during halftime of the Polar Bears’ Aug. 28 home opener against Appleton North.
Anyone who played for Sexton in his 24 years as Polar Bears coach is invited to join him on Akin Field during the ceremony.
“I haven’t seen some of those guys in 30 years,” said Sexton. “I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from them the last couple weeks and it brings back good memories. You really miss the interaction with the kids.”
Sexton posted a 117-89 record at Hortonville, starting in 1974 during difficult circumstances at the school. He was hired in April, about a month after the start of the volatile Hortonville teacher’s strike.
“Keary Mattson (basketball) and Donnie Williams (baseball) were hired not long after me,” said Sexton. “So you could say that they did some fairly good hiring at the time. You watch any coach, whether it’s (Packers coaches Mike) McCarthy or (Mike) Holmgren, and they’re all teachers. In high school ball, it’s a way of taking a 14-year-old and turning him into a young man by the time he turns 18.”
Sexton, a 1969 graduate of Little Wolf High School, was a fiery, no-nonsense coach and a refreshing interview because he always cut through the baloney and told it like it was.
“I was old school, but still, there’s no closer bond than the coach and the players,” said Sexton, who is retired after serving nearly three decades as Hortonville’s athletic director. “I always told my players that they were the best the school had to offer and I appreciated their sacrifices. Look at football now. It starts a month before school. They give up a lot.”
So do high school coaches, whose family time is especially compromised with crazy hours for little pay. Wisconsin prep football coaches will never be confused with those on “Friday Night Lights” who have one full-time job and that’s coaching football.
But when you become a coaching hall of famer like Sexton and former players return to the scene of your greatest victories to share your happiness, it becomes clear that all the sweat, sacrifice and lost time were totally worth it.
— Tim Froberg; 920-993-1000, ext. 424, or email@example.com; on Twitter @twfroberg