Not only did Mark Polebitski leave his mark on Waupaca High School’s soccer program, he also made an impression on the hundreds of players he’s coached over the years.
He recently announced that he would step down as the school’s boys’ soccer coach more than 20 years after building the program from scratch.
“Soccer was a excellent opportunity to put schoolwork and life aside and just have fun,” said Mark Richmond from the Class of 2009.
“I made some great friends, some of which I still keep in touch with,” he said. “Personally, I knew that I wasn’t going to go on to play sports in college, so high school soccer was my last chance to participate in a competitive team sport. I learned some important life skills as well, such as the value of persistence and team work. Simply put, high school soccer was a last opportunity to participate in a sport I loved, one which helped he grow as a person while having fun at the same time.”
Brothers Cole (Class of 2005) and Logan (Class of 2007) Rathjen also played for Polebitski.
“Soccer has been a positive part of my life from an early age,” Cole Rathjen said. “I grew up playing recreational soccer from about age 6 or 7 and have continued to play up to today at 24. I have enjoyed the game as a recreational player, competitor and spectator. Through soccer, I have made lasting friendships, bonded with a community of local and international lovers of the sport and learned about teamwork and self-discipline.
Polebitski played an invaluable role in making soccer a big part of Rathjen’s life.
“Polo shared his knowledge and passion for the sport at every practice and game,” he said. “I will be forever grateful for the time he put in to create the teams that I played with. Being part of a team with my peers – pushing each other to be better, succeeding and failing together and having fun throughout – is one of the most enjoyable and educational experiences I have had in my life. The teams I played with in high school could not have been what they were without Mark Polebitski at the helm.”
“Much more than simply an opportunity to compete in a fun sport, soccer has provided me with many friendships and happy memories,” Logan Rathjen said. “Whether I was kicking around with my siblings in our backyard, playing on my high school or college team or participating in the Waupaca Adult Soccer League, I have always enjoyed having the sport of soccer in my life. The international popularity of soccer distinguishes it from all other sports and its ability to transcend borders in a distinctive way was clearly demonstrated by this summer’s World Cup.
“Soccer requires a unique combination of conditioning, skill and coordination between the 11 players on the field to win and it is this aspect of soccer that makes me love it so much,” he added. “Coach Polebitski’s combination of talents allows him to be a great motivator and teacher of the game and his ability to combine hard work with humor creates teams that are successful who view themselves as a family.”