Odds are this gets a little long winded and possibly emotional as I look back on this past season. This past season is one that I will cherish for a long time as it was a special collection of young men.
First of all I'd like to thank my wife Jana for allowing me to pursue my passion of coaching high school football. I am a father, a husband, and a football coach. I do my best to not let the latter get in the way of the first two but I'm sure it happens at times and Jana doesn't hold it against me. I've worked hard to find the balance between football and the rest of life and she has put up with me while I've been working on that. I truly don't have any hobbies outside of coaching football, she is a saint for how much football she endures year round.
I'd also like to thank the community, the parents, the Onalaska School District for the support they showed our team along our journey this year. It was awesome to see blankets being put out 7 hours before game time because people wanted to see us play.
A group of people that are often over looked are the custodians. Charlie Henry, John Snow, Kurt Goodenough, Matt and Chris, Richard, many more I have forgotten and the ladies as well. All of them do a very thankless job of cleaning up after us, cleaning up the field after games as we celebrate with the fans and parents, fixing broken equipment. I cannot thank this group enough for what they do for it is one of the most important and overlooked jobs of the entire operation. The encouragement this group gave me all season meant the world to me. Excellent people who do a job most never notice.
The first thing I told the team Friday after the game was that I loved them, and I meant it. I love each of our players for the work they put in, the dedication they have to our team and each other, and for the young man they are becoming. I hope that as our seniors walk away that I have impacted them enough to make a lasting difference on the person they become. I hope that we have taught them how to overcome obstacles in life, withstand adversity, and to be a great teammate, no matter the situation. I hope we taught them to be great leaders, and love those they lead. As fun as this season was, as fun as the winning was, the conference championship and the record breaking performances were, the true success of our program will be measured years from now in what kind of husbands and fathers our team becomes long after the Friday Night Lights go dim.
I'm proud of our team for the effort they gave each day at practice. I'm proud of them for the effort they gave during the off season. I'm proud of the adversity they overcame both individually and as a team. I'm proud of them for the leaders they became and the maturity they gained along the journey. This group truly never quit until the last whistle sounded.
Football is more than just a game to me. It's a tool to teach life lessons. I believe that those who see it through will be better people because of it. I've never had a person come to me and say they regretted playing high school football. I have had many come to me and say they regretted not playing or quitting early. This game is special because of the bonds it builds and the finite time you get to play it for. Unlike other sports you don't have pick up leagues or adult leagues of football to play after high school. It's special because of the level of commitment you must make to the game and your teammates to be successful at it. The memories that you take from high school football will be talked about 20 years from now at a class reunion. The lessons you learned from the game will be applied throughout the rest of your life.
I want to thank our outgoing seniors for the past four years. It was truly an honor to coach you. Your hard work will not be forgotten and you have laid a foundation for those who will follow behind you.
For the players that return next year, understand the hard work it took for this years' seniors to have the success they did. It didn't happen over night, and it didn't happen by accident. It was intentional, hard work that got them there. It wasn't fun all of the time, but it needed to be done to reach the heights they did. Follow that blue print and bright days are ahead.
For those outside the program who think that with the departure of this group of seniors a rebuild is in the works; don't sleep on us. We have many talented, hard working athletes ready to pick up where the class of 2017 left off. We will not accept mediocrity and we will not live off the coat tails of those who are leaving us. We will work harder than we ever have, we will prepare, and we will be ready to continue to fight for MVC championships.
Thank you for a great 2016 season.
Pound the Rock!
- Coach Yashinsky