Brodhead to honor former fotoball coach Larsen
A proposal unanimously passed at Wednesday night’s school board meeting to name the facility Larsen Field. Larsen is Gary Larsen, the former head football and track and field coach, as well as the school’s longtime athletic director.
Larsen said he just found out about the proposal and was humbled by the board’s decision.
“I’m tickled pink to be getting this honor,” Larsen said. “It sure means a lot, and I’m sure it will really hit me when I actually see it (the sign) up there on Friday nights.
“I’ve loved every minute of my time spent here, and I’m grateful for all the wonderful people in this community that I’ve gotten to know.”
Larsen compiled a 167-77 record in 24 years as head coach of the Brodhead and Brohdead/Juda football programs. He stepped down after the 2004 season, but not before taking the Cardinals to the WIAA playoffs in each of his last 13 years, during which Brodhead/Juda went 81-8 in the Rock Valley Conference and won eight championships.
The Cardinals had 62-2 conference record under Larsen in a 10-year span and tied a Rock Valley record with 34 straight league wins. They were WIAA Division 4 state runners-up in 2003 and reached the state semifinals in Larsen’s last season.
Larsen also was the Cardinals’ boys track and field coach for 30 years, and his team won the Division 2 state championship in 2003.
Jim Matthys, Brodhead’s current athletic director and football coach, said the board’s 7-0 vote is indicative of the legacy left by Larsen, who was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2002.
“Gary’s definitely the reason those two programs achieved the type of success that they did,” Matthys said of Larsen, who remains an assistant football coach.
“He did, and continues to do, so many things for our school that go above and beyond the call of duty. It’s a fitting tribute to coach Larsen, and a well-deserved one.”
The dedication of Larsen Field will be Friday, Sept. 25, at Brodhead/Juda’s homecoming game against Palmyra-Eagle.
Because of funding made available by private donors, the district will not be billed for any of the costs associated with designing and erecting the new field sign, or for the stone monument being planned, with Larsen’s name on both.
“Gary is so well-liked in our community that a number of donors have agreed to help with financing,” Matthys said. “And anyone else who wants to donate is more than welcome to do so. It’s for a great cause and a great facility.”