A military sensibility: Wisconsin coach Sinz preaches accountability

By Derek Smith

FNF Coaches Contributor

Edgar High School (Wisc.) head coach Jerry Sinz, one of only two coaches in the state to win 400 games, has brought corporate-style evaluations of his players to the offseason program. Now, young student-athletes in the upper Midwest U.S. have an idea how those things work in the real world.

Let’s review. It’s time for your yearly evaluation with your boss. The day before, he asks you evaluate yourself and bring the findings to your meeting with him. He will also have reviewed your job performance over the year, and the two of you will compare the results. Then, the two of you will set goals for improvement in the future.

Football players coached by Jerry Sinz face similar scrutiny each spring, not unlike what they may later encounter in life after graduation.

“We talk pretty serious about accountability,” he said.

The Wildcats are required to stay in top physical shape throughout the year and must participate in a summer fitness program.

But, during the month of March, Sinz calls all of his varsity players to his office for an offseason interview. Captains are elected at this time, and they continue to meet with Sinz once a week in April and May.

The Wildcats individually fill out evaluations and rate themselves in a bunch of categories, Sinz says. Those are compared with evaluations from the assistant coaches on each player. They are judged on 30 characteristics and qualities. They set personal and team goals, assess strength and weaknesses, and find areas to improve. Sinz asks about their future plans, monitors their GPAs and queries them on their home and school life. The coaches stress to the Wildcats that they prioritize their lives – God, family, education.

“Basically, we put football about fourth or fifth,” Sinz said. “If your best athletes aren’t your best citizens and your hardest workers, you’ll usually have some chemistry issues. It all comes back to the leadership qualities of the kids.”

The Wildcats’ assistant coaches keep track of the players’ progress in the offseason by coaching other sports, too, because many of the kids play more than one sport at the small, rural school.

“I’ve managed to get it worked out now that every head coach in a boys’ sport (except cross country in the fall) is an assistant football coach,” including track and baseball, Sinz said.

Overseeing a year-around program which emphasizes teamwork, chemistry and leadership has led to tremendous success for Edgar High School and Sinz since he became head coach in 1975.

He entered the 2019 campaign with 419 wins, including 17 undefeated seasons, seven state titles and 12 championship appearances. Sinz has won state championships in four different classifications in Wisconsin – Divisions 4, 5, 6 and 7, the smallest class. In 2018, the Wildcats finished 13-1 as Division 7 state runners-up.

The Jerry Sinz Profile

Age: 69

Team: Edgar, Wisconsin, H.S.

Years as Head Coach: 44 (1975-present)

Coaching record: 419-83

State Championships: 7

Runners-up: 5

Conference titles: 25   

2018 record: 13-1

Profession: Teacher, technology education and math  

Family: Wife, Barb; sons, Jason, Jeremy, Jordan and Justin; 9 grandchildren

Accomplishments:17 undefeated regular seasons; only the second football coach in Wisconsin history to reach 400 wins; recognized as the National High School Coach Association Football Coach of the Year in 2010; named the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Year in 2008; Class of 2006 University of Wisconsin-Stout Athletic Hall of Fame; inducted into Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003