Wauwatosa East's new football coach, Matt Kender, has an interesting background.
He has coached at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 2003, with the last nine years as the offensive coordinator.
He was a Division 2 All-Star at Augustana College where he was a 6-foot-2-inch, 320-pound offensive lineman.
He has had a chance to return to the area where he grew up.
He had an interesting comparison between Arrowhead and Tosa East football.
He has had his current principal Nick Hughes coach him in three sports.
That last one probably got your attention.
One of the reasons Kender took the Red Raiders job was a chance to return to the area where he grew up — Mukwonago. Hughes was a teacher at Mukwonago, where Kender grew up.
'I had him as a wrestling coach and a track coach in eighth grade and later as a freshman football coach,' he said of Hughes. 'He's somebody I feel comfortable with. Knowing he was here, I know what I'm getting into a little bit. I've understand they've had tough times, but we can grow from there.'
To say the Tosa East football program has struggled is being polite.
In the last seven years, the Red Raiders are 7-55 overall and 4-45 in the Greater Metro Conference. They have had three winless seasons and four winless conference years. Last year, they were 0-9 overall and 0-7 in the GMC.
'You say it's a tough job? Arrowhead's a tough job, for two different reasons,' Kender said. 'But I want to build something. This gives me an opportunity to try and put my mark on something. I want to be here for the long haul looking back and saying this is what we built.
'I've heard that ('tough job') over and over. But it is also a good school. I'm used to working at a good school. I feel comfortable; I trust the administration.'
Kender hopes he got his message across to the parents in their first meeting.
'I told the parents the other night that we want to run a program where you feel you're grateful your kid's in the program,' he said. 'Your kid's going to be better for doing it.
'We're going to do stuff with character education. The first 10 to 15 minutes every day, we're going to spend on one of those topics, making sure the message is out there.'
One of the first things Kender, who will be a physical education teacher in the school, must do is recruit.
'I'm going out and saying, 'Hey, why don't you give football a try,'' he said. 'We have 1,100 kids, some of who are athletic. I'm trying to get the kids in the program to reach out. They are part of the process here to get people on board.
'Then I'll try to use 'my charming personality.' I'm trying to let them know I'm out there. There are some things we're going to do.
'I need to get them there (at practice, the weight room), get them to find the interest, to make the experience a positive experience, having high energy in practice. Then after this year, the big challenge is to be progressing further.'
Kender talked about what he feels will be success in the early going.
'I won't know what our starting point is until we actually get out there (on the field),' he said. 'But at the end of every week, I want to see us improve. I hope that by improving every week — and I hope as that goes on — I hope that results in wins. We need to point out things that are being done right. We need to put a huge emphasis on the positives being done and make corrections when needed.'
Kender, who is in the process of building his coaching staff, emphasized his coaching philosophy.
'I want to build around the coaching staff as well,' he said. 'What are we strong in as teachers, too. If we have years where we are loaded in one position, we're going to make sure what we're doing is flexible.'
Kender sees there is a lot of passion for the program down the line in the junior league.
'They have good numbers,' he said. 'One of my goals — I grew up in a system — back then, it started in seventh grade. We can get a system in place, get the core things at that level, the core techniques for success at the higher level. There is a lot of passion out there.'
Progress will be the key to the program's success.
'I want high expectations for the program,' Kender said. 'The high expectations are 'Hey, we're going to get better every day.' That's what I'm looking for, and as coaches, I think that's the way we need to do it.'
Education —Augustana College, Bachelor of Arts, 2003, Major: Physical Education. University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire, Masters of Education — Professional Development, August, 2004.
Coaching Experience — University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire (2003-15), Offensive Coordinator (2008-15), Academic Coordinator (2012-14), Quarterbacks Coach (2010-14), Offensive Line Coach (2004-10), Run Game Coordinator (2007), Recruiting Coordinator (2004-07), Tight Ends Coach (2003, 2015), JV Head Coach (2003).
Playing Experience —Augustanta (Sioux Falls, SD): Four-year starter on offensive line, Division 2 All-Star, 2003 Cactus Bowl participant, 2001-02 all-conference honors. Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL): Division 1AA Semi-Finalist (1998).