We believe there’s something more important than just winning or losing a tournament. We believe that the team, school, and fans who support their athletes with dignity and class are the true champions. That is why we have proudly sponsored the WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award for 55 years.
We would like to congratulate Prairie du Chien on being this year’s recipient of the Team Wrestling Sportsmanship award. It is the first time the Blackhawks’ has been chosen winner of the sportsmanship award.
When talking with Head Coach, Mike Rogge we asked him what this award meant to him as a coach, the team and community along with how they teach their athletes about sportsmanship.
The 2019-2020 wrestling season was a season of unforgettable firsts. We started our season by setting our team goals and posting them on a bulletin board in our wrestling room. Our top goal was to be the Division 2 State champs. We also set goals based on academics, leadership, and sportsmanship.
Having our team win the WIAA/Rural Mutual Sportsmanship award is an incredible honor for our team and myself. After losing in the state semifinals by one point, we were obviously a little down. But it is how you win and lose that is important. I could not have been prouder of the wrestlers, coaching staff, and fans on how they reacted to a heartbreaking loss. I was proud of our team for being a gracious loser after knowing they gave it their all and left everything on the mat. This award shows there is more to sports than just winning and losing. Even though it is a team award, it reflects highly on our school, fans, and community members who give us incredible support year after year.
Our motto this season was “All In” and we lived by it. At the beginning of the season, we explained to the wrestlers that you need to be “All In” in all aspects of your life- school, family, and community, not just in the wrestling room.
As a team we have been involved in the Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon for over 20 years. The team does push-ups for pennies to raise money for the telethon. The local cable channel airs the telethon, and most every year we appear on the telethon at about 10:00 PM after we have traveled home from a Saturday wrestling invite. This year we raised over $3,500, the most ever. Over the last 20 years Prairie Wrestling has donated more than $40,000 to the telethon. By doing this, it teaches the kids that there is more to sports and how to give back to others.
One of my proudest moments this season was when 2 of the captains decided they wanted to dedicate a home meet to one of their teammate’s dad who is battling brain cancer. The captains designed shirts and sold them with all proceeds going to the family. Semako Strong was an emotional night. Looking into the crowd with over 700 fans wearing those shirts in support of him, and then winning a conference title that very same night was an unforgettable experience.
Coach Rogge has been coaching for the past 18 years in Prairie du Chien and this was his first year as the head coach of the Blackhawks. His favorite part of coaching is the relationships he can build with student athletes and watching them mature into young adults.
Coach Rogge went on to comment that even though they fell short of their goal of being Division 2 state champs, receiving the WIAA/Rural Mutual Sportsmanship award has shown the team and fans how important sportsmanship truly is.
Congratulations again on a great season and winning the WIAA/Rural Mutual Sportsmanship award. This is a great achievement for the Prairie du Chien community.