Koronkiewicz leads team to first title
By Greg Seubert
Talk about going out on top.
After 40 years of teaching, 32 seasons coaching football and 24 coaching baseball at Waupaca High School, John Koronkiewicz is ready for the next chapter in his life.
Before that chapter can be written, however, he had one more order of business to wrap up: winning the school’s first state baseball championship.
The Comets won the WIAA Division 2 state spring baseball championship June 16 with a 2-0 win over defending champion Milwaukee Lutheran in Grand Chute. It isn’t the first state title for Koronkiewicz, who coached Waupaca football teams to Division 3 state championships in 2006 and 2008. His football teams also played for state titles in 1994, 2002 and 2012.
“I’m really happy for the kids on the team because it’s never really the coaches,” he said. “It’s always the players. Do I like winning championships? Absolutely. There’s nothing like winning championships. To be able to do it in two different sports, from a coaching perspective, puts it in an entirely different realm because there aren’t too many guys that can say that.”
Koronkiewicz and his wife, JoAnn, arrived in Waupaca in 1976 and never left.
“I got as much as I gave out,” he said. “I came to Waupaca in 1976 and found a niche. I found something that maybe I had a little skill in and that was relating to kids, coaching and talking about competitiveness and teaching life lessons not just about the game. It goes way beyond this.
“Athletics is a great venue to practice life,” he added. “You can make a mistake and it hurts temporarily, but you can move on. Once you get out there in the real world, those mistakes can multiply in a lot bigger factor.”
According to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, Koronkiewicz has a .746 winning percentage in football games (265-90), good enough for 13th all-time among current and past coaches. His teams won conference championships in 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and posted undefeated regular seasons in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013.
His two wins at this year’s state spring baseball championships improved his all-time baseball mark to 316-199. That record includes conference and regional championships the past two years.
“I have tremendous pride for what we’ve done in Waupaca,” Koronkiewicz said. “The community has always been supportive of whatever we’ve been able to do.
“Most important, it’s the players who come out and give their all,” he added. “I’m proud of the fact that over the course of my time here, we’ve put together some very competitive teams and teams that won a lot of games.”