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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — After more than 30 years, Colfax girls’ head basketball coach Joe Doucette is stepping aside.
Doucette is not abandoning coaching all together, however. He will become the assistant coach, and his daughter, Courtney Doucette Sarauer, will become the head coach, the Colfax Board of Education learned at the May 18 meeting.
In addition to Doucette, Carl Rudi, Tim Devine and Linda Boehm also submitted requests to the school board for retirement.
“Courtney will do an outstanding job,” said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator.
Sarauer has the family background, the “pedigree,” and it is a natural progression to continue the “Doucette dynasty” in Colfax girls’ basketball, he said.
Yingst noted that Doucette’s letter to the athletic director, Michael Hodel, was vintage Doucette in its brevity.
The letter included in the school board packet came in the form of an e-mail message sent May 7: “Michael, I would like to step down from the varsity coaching position of girls basketball. If Courtney gets the head varsity job I would love to continue to help her at the junior varsity level. Thanks sincerely. Joe Doucette.”
Sarauer’s letter to the Board of Education is dated May 8: “As many of you know, my dad has built a legacy with the girls’ basketball program at Colfax. This year, we’ve decided to switch roles. I plan on stepping into the head coaching position, with him as my assistant. I’m hoping that the school board is in agreement with this decision. I know that my dad and I want to make sure the high level of the program continues, and we don’t want to turn it over to anyone. They are big shoes to fill, but I promise to do my best. I’m excited for the change and to continue learning from one of the greatest coaches the state of Wisconsin has seen. Thank you, Courtney Sarauer.”
Doucette was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017. At that time, Doucette, who had been coaching at Colfax High School since 1990, had a record of 531-108, with 19 Dunn-St. Croix Conference titles, 12 regional titles and three sectional titles.
In November of 2018, Doucette’s girls’ basketball team achieved the 600th win of his career.
Doucette retired from the Colfax school district as the elementary physical education teacher in 2016.
In addition to Doucette stepping aside as the head girls’ basketball coach, Carl Rudi, who has taught middle school math at Colfax for 28 years, also plans to retire at the end of the school year.
In Rudi’s letter to Yingst dated May 4, he wrote: “The purpose of this letter is to let you know of my plans to retire at the end of 2019-2020 school year. I am very satisfied of what I have been able to accomplish in my 28 years in the classroom, football field, basketball court, softball and baseball field. I hope that I was able to help make the school and the community a better place in the time that I have been here.”
In his letter, Rudi expressed appreciation for his colleagues Tim Devine and Dave Wolff for their friendship and guidance and said he could not have done it without them.
Rudi listed fellow middle school staff members Alyssa Smith, Shannon Harris, Kassandra Scholz, John Dickinsen, Lori Halpin, Emilie Hudacek, Laura Lowe, Carly Rubenzer, Mary Lynn Brennan, Bill Yingst, and Dianna Dachel, along with fellow coaches Tim Wilson, Joe Doucette and Garrett Maas and expressed appreciation “for their great friendship and support over the years. These are the people that make Colfax a very special place to work for, and I always looked forward to working with them every day.”
Rudi recognized the administrators and school board members, too, for their support, “which has allowed me to become the teacher that I am today,” along with the support of principals Gary Hoffman, Ron Fandry, Dennis Geissler, Bill Yingst and John Dachel, and the support of superintendents Dennis Geissler, Bill Yingst and Lee Bjurquist “who hired me and gave me a chance to work in this school district.”
Rudi also extended “a special thank you to the best administrator that I have had through these years, Polly Rudi.”
Rudi concluded by saying, “I will miss the students, athletes, and families that I have formed many great relationships with over these years. The students that I taught will always have a special place with me as they gave me a sense of purpose and pride each day that I stepped in my classroom.”
Tim Devine retired as the Colfax Middle School language arts teacher at the end of the school year in 2018 and returned in the fall to serve as the district’s alternative education and interventionist teacher. Devine now intends to retire from his coaching duties at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
In his letter, dated February 14 and received by the school district April 28, Devine wrote: “It is with mixed feelings that I compose and submit this letter of resignation from my C team basketball coaching position. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a coach when I grew up. It is one of the main reasons why I pursued a degree in education. Applying for a junior high reading job in the Colfax school district 36 years ago turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only has it been a rewarding place to teach, but it has been an equally rewarding place to coach. I have been blessed to work with many dedicated coaches and student-athletes during my tenure.”
In his letter, Devine listed the coaching assignments he has filled over the years: varsity basketball program for 18 years; varsity football program for 15 years; varsity softball program for one year; middle school track for more than 20 years; middle school football for more than 10 years; middle school basketball for more than 10 years.
“Every new season and every new team created memories that I will forever cherish. The relationships I have built with players, coaches and athletic directors will last a lifetime. ‘Coach Devine’ is a title that I always enjoyed hearing, whether it was a former or current athlete addressing me. Coaching is what I was born to do. But everything must eventually come to an end, and now I feel it is time for a new voice to be heard in our gymnasiums … I will always be grateful for the coaching opportunities that this district has provided me these past decades, and specifically, the appreciation Coach Maas had in my contributions to the program, but it is time for someone else — someone younger, perhaps — to ride a school bus to Plum City on a school night in the middle of winter. I will always be a staunch supporter of Colfax athletics, but now, ‘Grandpa Tim’ is the title I prefer to hear.”
Teacher assistant Linda Boehm also submitted her resignation to the school board.
In her letter dated May 5, Boehm says that she intends to retire June 1 after nine wonderful years in the Colfax school district.
Boehm, who previously worked in the Eau Claire school district, “has done a great job,” Yingst said.
In reference to Doucette, Rudi, Devine and Boehm, Colfax Board of Education President Todd Kragness said, “You lose track of what people do — how much time they put in for so many years … I applaud all of them.”
Yingst noted that he and Rudi had taught together when Yingst was a teacher in the school district and that they had known each other through coaching and extracurricular activities too.
Tim Devine has “coached for a lot of years and a lot of hours,” Yingst said.
The Colfax Board of Education unanimously approved all of the requests for retirement.
• Learned that the LED crossing guard lights on University Avenue are expected to be installed by June 1. The village’s Department of Public Works employees had been working staggered schedules, with each person working one week on and two weeks off because of COVID-19, but the village employees were all back to work as of May 18, Yingst said.
• Learned that the summer band schedule is on hold because of COVID-19. Students cannot come into the building, and how to do band lessons over the summer will be a challenge, Yingst said. Derek Westholm, Colfax High School band teacher, has put together a “senior concert” video in which the students recorded all of their parts at home, submitted the video, and Westholm put all the pieces together for an “online band concert,” he noted.
• Learned that the summer school program has been cancelled because of COVID-19.
• Learned that the summer school swimming lessons have been cancelled. Yingst said he had talked with Eric Wright, Elk Mound school district administrator, and they had both agreed it would be difficult to have groups of 10 or less for swimming lessons, and it would be difficult to bus the students to Elk Mound with only 10 on a bus and while maintaining the proper social distances. “It’s just not feasible. I hate to see the kids go without swimming lessons, but our hands are tied,” Yingst said.
• Approved Student Assurance Services, Inc. as the student sports insurance provider and playground insurance provider. Yingst said he always recommends that parents take the insurance. People ask if their child gets hurt at school, does the school district insurance cover it, and the answer is “no,” he said. Colfax will be receiving a 10 percent credit, or $600, on the policy. The school district is receiving the insurance credit because of COVID-19 and the fact that no one has been at school for the last quarter, Yingst said.
• Approved Security Health Plan as the health insurance carrier for the 2020-2021 school year through the school district’s insurance cooperative. The increase in premiums is 4.9 percent. If Colfax were obtaining insurance alone, the increase would be 30 percent, Yingst said.
• Approved Delta Dental as the insurance carrier for the 2020-2021 school year.
• Approved updates to 40 policies and new policies. The changes were recommended by the company the school district contracts with for policies, Neola, and most of the changes are statutory updates or other minor language changes that do not change the basic content of the policies, Yingst said. New policies include Weapons; School Safety Student Code of Classroom Conduct; cash handling and deposits; and School Safety and Threats of Violence.