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Elkhorn’s Lee has big shoes to fill

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Dave Wedeward
July 30, 2009
— Elkhorn High has completed a set of notable bookends in two of its most visible boys sports.

The Elks have long had a head basketball coach who came out of Lake Geneva Badger—John Handel. Now they have a head football coach from Delavan-Darien—Tom Lee.


As most people know, those schools are two of the Elks’ most prominent rivals—both of whom have had their hands full against Elkhorn football teams in the long and successful tenure of retiring coach Dean Wilson.


Wilson stepped down last month after 15 years of guiding Elkhorn to a 105-53 record, seven Southern Lakes Conference championships and 12 WIAA playoff berths.


And the Elks’ new head coach is no stranger to that success. Lee, a 1991 Delavan-Darien graduate, has been on the Elkhorn staff for eight years in football and boys basketball.


“I’ve had a chance to work under two great coaches, who know how to run a program and be successful,’’ Lee said of Handel and Wilson. “And I’ve learned a lot.’’


After being a football, basketball and track standout at Delavan-Darien, Lee also learned a lot about winning at UW-La Crosse. The former defensive back lettered four years in the Eagles’ football program and was on three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship teams, including the 1992 NCAA Division III national title team as a sophomore.


“We had a tremendous coach in Roger Harring,’’ Lee said of the UW-La Crosse legend, whose name graces the Eagles’ new stadium at Veterans Memorial Complex. “He was very, very good to work under, and just a class guy.’’


Lee took the class act he learned from Harring on the road for numerous stops. He had teaching and assistant coaching positions at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Holmen, Potosi and Cudahy before settling in Elkhorn, where he teaches seventh-grade social studies in the middle school. He and wife, Jennifer, have 3-year-old twin daughters, Gloria and Sabrina.


“I’ve been under great coaches, and a lot of good has happened at the places I’ve been,’’ Lee said.


Now, he is eager to meet the challenge of carrying on the tradition in what, by any standards, is a good football program.


“I’ve got big shoes to fill,’’ Lee said. “We’ve had a lot of success here, and the program is in good shape.


“We’re in a new and tough conference that is adding Burlington,’’ he said of the realigned Southern Lakes, which is heading into its second year. “We’re going to have to play our best to do well. My goal is just to keep up the tradition. I’ll work my hardest to help the kids meet that challenge.’’



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