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Groelle era tips off in Milton

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Dave Wedeward
July 29, 2009
— Youth and excitement highlight a new era in Milton High boys basketball.

Zach Groelle, 24, and a homegrown product, has been named head coach of the Red Hawks.


Groelle succeeds Brian Hammil, another homegrown product, who held the position for 15 years and now succeeds retiring Jim Johnson as Milton’s athletic director.


In stepping away from the basketball bench, Hammil is elated over the appointment of his successor.


“I’m pleased and really excited for him,’’ Hammil said of Groelle. “He’s a quality person and will do a good job.’’


And despite being just a little over a year out of UW-Whitewater, the 2008 graduate steps into the job with experience and vast knowledge of the Milton program. As a point and shooting guard, Groelle was a two-time captain and received All-Southern Lakes honorable mention twice as a member of Hammil’s 2001-02 and 2002-03 teams.


Groelle, who teaches physical education in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, got early coaching experience as a Milton assistant while attending UW-Whitewater. He has had six years on the staff—two with the freshmen and four with the varsity.


“I’ve got a good background, even though I’m young,’’ Groelle said. “And being a younger coach, I think I can bring tenacity to the program, day in and day out.’’


Groelle also has learned the day-by-day and week-by-week demands of competing in the tough Badger Conference, where the Red Hawks made their debut this past season.


“That was an eye-opening experience for the guys and the coaches,’’ Groelle said. “Every night was a battle.’’


It also was unpredictable. The Red Hawks showed that when they knocked off South Division co-champion and WIAA Division 2 state runner-up Monroe, 40-36, on the Cheesemakers’ court.


Now, despite the graduation of 6-foot-6 star Mason Walters, who averaged 21.6 points a game last season, Groelle is fired up about the Red Hawks’ chances of stepping up from a 6-6 finish in the Badger South.


“I’m excited about the athletic ability we have,’’ he said, “and we want to push the tempo.’’


Groelle also is confident those athletes will respond to the leadership from a young coach.


“It wasn’t that long ago that I was in their shoes, and hopefully they’ll take that to heart,” he said. “I’m excited, and hopefully there are good things to come.’’



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