Wrestling supporters challenge move during tour of potential sites
Not all of the 100 or so people who attended an informal tour of Ozaukee High School last Wednesday agreed how the Northern Ozaukee School District should proceed with plans for a revamped fitness center.
However, everyone contended it is an issue that should be given serious attention.
The tour and input session was scheduled after plans for the swapping of space used for the high school weight room and wrestling room were discussed during a recent School Board meeting.
Past and current members of the Warrior football and wrestling teams were well represented during the gathering.
District administrators had hoped to convert the weight room into a fitness center, open to physical education classes, athletes and possibly the public.
Such an expanded facility would need more space, which officials felt could easily be accommodated by moving from its current 2,100-square-foot room to the 2,900-square-foot room used by the wrestling program for training and equipment storage.
Opponents of the swap see the relocation as a slap at the wrestling program.
They said it repeats a pattern dating back more than a decade, when wrestling supporters built a 5,000-square-foot facility — at a cost of $85,000 — at the high school for training, but eventually had the room reassigned for other uses.
Supt. Blake Peuse led the 45-minute tour of the facilities, which included a stop at an under-used 3,600-square-foot room in Ozaukee Elementary School which district officials have said would make a good wrestling room.
Peuse said the room relocation reflects a greater emphasis on wellness.
“There is much more of a focus on lifetime fitness and how it can be incorporated into an active lifestyle,” he said.
Wrestling supporters were quick to point out the shortcomings of the two rooms suggested for their program — one being much smaller than the space they currently have and the other not easily accessible for high school athletes.
Former wrestling coach Jerry Hoffmann, a tech education teacher at the high school, called the use of the elementary school room “a logistical nightmare.”
Many of those who spoke during a question period following the tours saw the gathering as a chance to promote the value of the wrestling program.
“Wrestling prepares you for life. The harder you work, the greater the rewards — usually, but not always,” said Tom Winker, a former wrestler and School Board member who is now Belgium town chairman and a member of the Ozaukee County Board.
“I want to remind you the wrestling team is the only program to build its own space.”
Many attending the tour suggested a variation on that approach, urging a fund-raising campaign to build a fitness center on the south end of the high school.
Peuse said the large turnout during the tours was an indication of how concerned the community is about the quality of education.
Ultimately, he said the room decision — which is expected to be made this month — will be in the hands of the administration, not the School Board.
“We have received a great deal of feedback and perspective on this issue. It will all be taken into consideration,” Peuse said.