He’s fit for a life’s work keeping kids FIT

His fitness programs make it fun to work hard
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

It didn’t take Jake Maechtle long to discover his life’s passion.

While some figure out their purpose in college or even later, others know what they want to do early in life. Maechtle, a 2011 Port Washington High School graduate, found his in elementary school.

He started wrestling when he was 3, and he loved the competition and even the practices.

Several years into the sport, Maechtle discovered he loved to teach others.

“As early as I could, I would be a fifth-grader coaching a second-grader,” he said.

“When I was in high school, I would go back and help the middle school.”

When Maechtle wrestled at Lakeland University, he went back to help the high school team as often as possible.

For five years, Maechtle was a head coach for the Port Piranhas youth wrestling program, running practices for kindergartners through eighth-graders.

That experience led to his current job doing what he loves as the community and fitness director for the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District.

District Supt. Chad Brakke, also a former wrestler, had coached the Piranhas as well. When a middle school meet was scheduled between Cedar Grove-Belgium and Port’s middle school teams,

Brakke asked Maechtle if he was interested in the district’s new position. The job had been combined with the athletic director, but the two jobs were split last year.

“I wasn’t really looking,” Maechtle said. “I was happy at Lakeland working in their admissions office.”

Maechtle graduated from Lakeland in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on sports management and economics.

He worked in the school’s admissions office while he earned a master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in higher education and student affairs. He then worked his way up to assistant director of admissions.

“The admission stuff was the job and the passion side of stuff was the coaching,” Maechtle said.

“If I could make what I was doing full time, I would be at a good point.”

The Cedar Grove-Belgium position is right up Maechtle’s alley.

Maechtle develops programs for all ages at the fitness center and the pool, and he is in the early stage of a long-term strategic plan to offer more programs.

“It fit what I went to school for, what I thought I always wanted to be doing,” he said of the job.

Hours at the fitness center had been limited to early mornings and late afternoons, but he expanded them to 5:15 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Fitness classes are offered on Monday through Thursday nights.

“I’ve learned quickly that this community wants to be doing things. They don’t want to be sitting in their houses,” Maechtle said.

Other community education programs are being brainstormed, such as dog obedience, expanded lifeguard certification training and technology days in which staff members or students help people learn how to use their smart phones or operate computer programs.

Maechtle works with different ages of students in the fitness center.

For high-schoolers, “their workouts are focused on what they want to be doing — toward a sport or to build muscle. They’re at that age where they realize what they’re doing.”

During football season, Maechtle put together a program of core muscle workouts on Mondays and more explosive reps on Wednesdays leading into Friday games.

“I think the guys were a little shocked at first with what he had them doing, but after the first few weeks they realized how much it was helping them recover,” football coach Dan Schreurs said.

Maechtle recently started a phased program for all athletes.

“Overall, this is something we really needed for our athletes in CG-B. Lifting can be intimidating for many athletes, and Jake is always there for them to help, explain and demonstrate the proper ways to do things. I am really excited to see the rewards of his work on the football field this fall,” Schreurs said.

At the middle school level, Maechtle is teaching safe and proper ways to work out, including how to handle weights and machines.

For elementary-schoolers, garnering interest is the goal.

“I want to establish programs where it’s fun to be active and it’s fun to work hard a little bit,” Maechtle said. “If we can do that, by the time they get into middle school, it will make it easier.”

Beyond being in charge of the fitness center, Maechtle is one its most loyal customers.

“I get in there as much as I can and keep myself fit. It’s hard to teach and coach this stuff if you’re out of shape yourself,” he said.

Maechtle is also increasing access to the pool, which is still operational despite being past its lifespan. Open swim hours have been expanded, as have swimming lessons that had been limited to summer.

“One of the big things I was looking forward to is constant swimming lessons,” he said, adding schedules can work around students’ other activities.

Lessons are offered in large or small groups, and even individualized for children who work better in that environment.

Through the adult and youth programming, Maechtle said, he wants to make the school campus “that community center where people can buy in.”

The job allows Maechtle to expand his horizons beyond coaching a specific sport.

“It’s a change and a challenge. It’s definitely something I look forward to each day,” he said.

He still gets his coaching fix by being an assistant with the Rockets’ high school wrestling team. He searches YouTube for new workouts, drills and coaching styles.

Maechtle lives on the south side of Sheboygan with his wife of two years, Hannah Rausch, a fellow Port High grad who is one of the Pirates’ dance team coaches.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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