Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Freeman Does Q & A with Gabes

from today's Waukesha Freeman --





VETERAN TRACK/CROSS COUNTRY COACH JOHN GABELBAUER

CMH athletes benefit from 38 years of coaching experience

WAUKESHA – John Gabelbauer isn’t sure how long he’ll continue to coach at Catholic Memorial High School. He said he may have lost a step from when he began coaching track and field 38 years ago, but he still enjoys every practice and does not see that changing soon. Freeman Assistant Sports Editor Daniel Mike recently had a conversation with the 2011 inductee into the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame about his coaching and teaching careers at Catholic Memorial:

Q: How did you get involved in coaching?
A: I was teaching in Milwaukee at the time and was a graduate of Memorial. I had gone to a couple of meets out of college and I knew their track coach was resigning. I talked to (athletic director) Tony Kaboord and he said, “Well, you think you can do the job?” I said, “I’ll try,” and he hired me. That was in 1974, and I’ve been there ever since.

Q: How did you wind up teaching at Memorial?
A: I coached the girls in ’73 and the boys in ’74, then Tony helped me get a teaching job as well. I started teaching in the fall of 1974.

Q: What made you stick with coaching so long?
A: I’ve had some good help along the way. Geoff Steinbach, the longtime Waukesha North and Arrowhead coach, helped me in the beginning. My good friend in high school, Pat Dobyns, helped along the way early on, then Chuck Bova came in 1982 and we took off from there.

Q: What do you think has been the key to success throughout the years?
A: I want to try to coach, for example, every one in my distance group, not just the varsity guys but the jayvee guys, and help them progress and get better. The guys who coached with me over the years – Bova, Bill Affeldt, Bill Young – they all had the same philosophy. From varsity guys through the freshmen, everyone gets instruction, gets time, gets expertise.

Q: What do you teach at Catholic Memorial?
A: World history and criminal justice. I’ve been teaching at Memorial for 37 years and 41 total. I taught at a small Catholic school in Milwaukee, St. Stephens, which is now closed. I taught history and sociology for years. Then, I wanted to start something new toward the end of my career. I was interested in law, so I got the criminal justice thing going.

Q: With track being such a time-consuming sport – from daily practice to weekend meets – was there ever a time where you thought enough is enough?
A: I’ve always had a lot of energy. I still do, not as much as I had in the past, certainly, but the rewards are still there. I’m starting to run out of gas, but I still enjoy the kids, still enjoy the sports and I’m still getting something out of it and the kids are, too.

Q: Did you coach other sports besides cross country and track?
A: I was the girls basketball coach for 12 years, from 1977 to 1989. We had some pretty good teams there. We went to two state tournaments in ’83 and ’87. Q: Why did you step aside from girls basketball?
A: I was coaching three sports, and that took a toll. I’ve also coached cross country for 33 years. In 1989, I was going to do one of two things: I was going to stay in basketball and step aside in cross country and track and just coach basketball and pump everything into that, or I was going to take the winter off and coach cross country and track. Basketball was very rewarding for me, so it was a tough decision. Football’s the hardest sport to coach, and basketball is right up there, too.

Q: Have you always been a runner?
A: I was in cross country and track, and I was very average. I was on the basketball team my freshman and sophomore years, and that was very average also. I liked the sports, I liked the participation and I enjoyed practice. Not too many kids do, but I did. When I started coaching, especially in basketball, I enjoyed practice. I enjoy the teaching part of it.

Q: What does your coaching future hold?
A: I’ve got a good staff. I’ve been coaching with Bill Affeldt and Bill Young for years. They’re good friends of mine. We’ll stay in it together for as long as it still feels good. We’ll probably all go together.

Q: What has it been like coaching at your alma mater?
A: My high school coach, Pat Dillon, was very influential in me becoming a coach. He was my JV basketball coach and track coach. He was the football coach but was my cross country coach my senior year. He was a great influence to say the least. It’s been a lot of fun to coach at Memorial. All of sudden, I got to be 62 years old and I realized it’s been a lot of years. I never really thought about it along the way.

E-mail: dmike@conleynet.com

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