(The following is a reprint of my personal opinion as presented in public
at a wrestling meet to Coach Tim Potratz in January, 2004.
As of February, 2011, Coach Potratz now has over 300 team dual wins.
As of February 2019, Coach Potratz now has over 400 team dual wins.)
Coach Tim Potratz 200 Team Wins Speech
by Steve Loehrke
We have a team award for Coach Tim Potratz, but first I will give you some background information.
Wrestling as a sport goes back to 708 BC during the original Olympic Games in Greece. It predates football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, and soccer. They stopped wars to watch the sport of Olympic wrestling.
I am a hard core wrestling fan. I have watched thousands of individual Weyauwega-Fremont wrestling matches from as far west as Cochrane-Fountain City along the Wisconsin River, as far north as Edgar, as far northeast as Sturgeon Bay, as far east as Sheboygan, to as far south as Whitewater, and ending each year at the State Tournament in Madison. I enjoy wrestling so much that I created and still maintain the W-F wrestling web site. With access to all the team records, I have been watching Coach Potratz march towards a milestone that is achieved by very few wrestling coaches. That’s why I am here – because Coach Potratz would never brag himself up. It took me years of digging to find out what a great wrestler he was in college and no one else seems to be tracking his accomplishments as a high school wrestling coach.
It is amazing what Coach Potratz has done for our wrestling program. One of the best things he did was take Weyauwega’s foremost hometown wrestler, Rich Tomaszewski, and make him Assistant Coach. But we will leave Coach Tomaszewski’s success story for another day. Tonight’s award is about Coach Potratz. Since Coach Potratz arrived in 1990, his wrestling teams have earned 8 Conference Championships, 5 Regional Championships, and 25 Tournament Championships. I haven’t even been able to count the number of 2nd and 3rd place finishes earned by his teams. Look at the banners on the east wall of the gym. No other W-F sports program has been as successful since 1990.
Weyauwega-Fremont is a small school. There are less than 400 kids in our high school. Half of them are girls, some of the rest go out for other sports, some have poor grades, some would rather party, some have a job, and some don’t want to work as hard as it takes to wrestle. So our coach is left with about 20 kids at the beginning of each season. Now, a wrestling coach has to take the kids available and divide them up into 14 weights from 103# to 275#. The coach wants to get his 14 best wrestlers on the mat for each meet. Because of weight distribution, this is not always possible. The coaches at some schools give up trying to field a whole team. Waupaca, for example, always has a few good wrestlers, but as a team, Waupaca has never beaten W-F. Thanks to Coach Potratz and thanks to the efforts of the Weyauwega-Fremont Youth Wrestling Program, W-F hardly ever forfeits a weight due to lack of kids.
Wrestling is a hard team sport. A great quarterback or a great basketball player can score half of his team’s points and also cover for the less-than-great players. However, due to the way dual meets are scored, a great wrestler can only earn 6 points for his team. Each wrestler has to individually earn his own share of the team points. A few great wrestlers cannot carry a team.
Wrestling is also a tough individual sport. Before each season, wrestling is the only sport in which the kids have a fat test which includes peeing in a cup for a hydration test. Before every meet and every tournament, the wrestler has to stand naked on a scale to prove his weight. At a dual meet, when a wrestler is out on the mat under the main light, every spectator is watching his match, and he doesn’t have a team with him to hide his mistakes. The wrestler has to be in shape and has to know the moves so that they are automatic when the opponent is trying his hardest to defeat him. Coach Potratz always has his wrestlers prepared, as his record proves.
Sitting in the bleachers, you may only see Coach Potratz when he is matside during a wrestling match. If you watch, you will often see the Coach talk to a wrestler after a match to help make him a better wrestler in the future. If you track the match-ups carefully, you will sometimes see some last minute lineup changes that have produced a dual meet team victory at the end. Occasionally, you will observe the Coach giving some friendly words of advice to the referee to help teach the referee his interpretation of the rules. However, the matside behavior of Coach Potratz is only one small view of the Coach. For another view, I wish everyone could see the Coach instruct the wrestlers in the wrestling room. He actually puts on wrestling clothes, gets on the mat, and practices with the wrestlers. He teaches and demonstrates moves and counter-moves again and again. Just like the wrestlers, he works up a sweat, bleeds when hurt, and has to shower after practice. Coach Potratz is not just a sideline coach.
Does his coaching method work? I have witnessed Coach Potratz take a kid with no wrestling experience and coach him from a 0 – 22 Freshman record on Junior Varsity to a winning record on Varsity by his Senior year. Year after year, I have witnessed W-F wrestlers win some matches not because they were stronger than their opponents, but because they were better trained and better conditioned.
Someday, 25 years from now, when Coach Potratz retires, we will have a big banquet and all of the past wrestlers can speak. You will hear about how the Coach made them wear ties to away meets to teach them pride in their appearance. You will hear how the Coach required them keep their grades up in order to participate in wrestling. You will hear how the Coach taught them a good work ethic that has stuck with them into the future. You will hear how the Coach had them in the best physical shape of their life. You will also hear them thank Coach Potratz for giving them some of the necessary tools for a successful life.
This season, Weyauwega-Fremont has a dual team record of 16 – 0. Some of the victories have been against larger Division I schools and some of the victories have been against ranked teams. Coach Potratz believes tough competition makes tougher wrestlers at tournament time at the end of the season. Last Saturday, his team placed 2nd at Sheboygan North Invitational Tournament without even one champion. Every wrestler contributed to the team effort. Twelve of the wrestlers placed in the tournament. Weyauwega-Fremont, with 388 students, was one of the two smallest schools at the tournament, yet Coach Potratz’ team placed higher than teams with much larger enrollment such as Stevens Point with 2770 high school students. Earlier this year, W-F won the Akey Duals and the CWC Conference Duals in Rosholt. There are only two dual meets left before the Conference Tournament which is 9 days away. Put this on your calendar - on Saturday, February 7th, Weyauwega-Fremont hosts the Conference Tournament here.
Now the fun part. Coach Potratz, I present you with this Award of Excellence for achieving 200 dual meet victories in the 13 seasons from your start to January 17, 2004. Currently, your overall record is 201 – 46 – 1 and counting. Your win ratio, including all post season dual meets, is better than 81%. This Award of Excellence is presented to Coach Tim Potratz with sincere appreciation from all Weyauwega-Fremont wrestling fans, parents, and wrestlers.