Something in the water? East Troy High full of successful athletes

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John Barry
Sunday, September 8, 2013

EAST TROY—Life is good for the student-athletes at East Troy High School.

The trophy cases are filling up, with more hardware likely on the way.

The Trojans, it seems, are suddenly good at everything.

Here’s just a sample of the success East Troy has had within the last school calendar year:

• A young but electric girls track and field team easily won the WIAA Division 2 state meet last spring.

• Both the boys and girls basketball teams advanced to the Division 3 state tournament last winter, with the girls losing a 60-58 heartbreaker to Kewaunee on a last-second shot in the state title game.

• The football program won a share of the Rock Valley North Conference title a year ago, and behind quarterback Brandon Matz could be poised to make a run at a second straight title this year.

• And the most dominant program of them all at East Troy may turn out to be girls volleyball. The Trojans, led by Kent State recruit Brittney Jakscht, are undefeated this season and coming off an impressive win at the Joust Invitational where the team beat three state-ranked Division 1 teams.

So is there something in the water in East Troy? Was there an influx of athletic kids that moved into town? Or was it simply a matter of hard work, dedication and getting a great group of kids to believe in themselves and their abilities?

Jeremy Weis, the girls volleyball coach, was quick to give an answer on the subject.

“It starts with a drive to compete,” Weis said, “and that’s what these kids have. Both the boys and the girls. And the camaraderie they all share is crazy.

“The change started about five or six years ago and keeps getting better each year.”

The change Weis is referring to is a weightlifting program. Weis, who helped get the lifting sessions started, said that five or six years ago, the few select athletes at the school did not want to lift because they felt they were already strong enough. Now both boys and girls are participating, including a summer session at the school that required five different sessions during the day to accommodate all those interested.

East Troy also has a “Breakfast Club” at the school that opens the weight room for training at 6 a.m. during school days. The last “Club” meeting had 60 participants.

“These kids understand that the weight room is where you begin to gain respect, no matter what sport you’re in,” Weis said. “Kids are so much stronger now than they were when we first started this program, especially the girls. That’s a room where a lot of girls don’t feel comfortable, but our girls have really bought into it and it shows.”

Although coach Eric Sulik’s football program is not quite on par with the basketball, track or volleyball programs at East Troy, Weis knows there’s a connection to what the football team does on the field and all other sports.

“Football still drives the rest of the programs,” Weis said. “When they’re doing well, that really pushes everyone else. And the competition between the kids and the teams to see who can do better is great. They work with each other to get better and not against.”

The majority of student/athletes at East Troy are competing in two or more sports. Weis prefers it that way and encourages his athletes not to specialize. Although the majority of his volleyball players compete in club volleyball, Weis won’t let it interfere with the winter or spring sports schedules.

And while sports continue to thrive at East Troy, the academic honors are also piling up.

Weis’ 2012 volleyball team, which lost in the Division 2 sectional semifinals, received all-state academic honors. The team had a cumulative grade point average of 3.59.

It’s a great time to be a student-athlete at East Troy High School. And it doesn’t seem to matter what sport you participate in.

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