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Where there’s soccer in Fond du Lac, there’s Greg Winkler.
No matter what time of year it is or what level of competition, the 53-year-old Rosendale native has a hand — or foot — in all things soccer in town.
Winkler’s responsibilities with the sport are unparalleled. At Fond du Lac High School, he is the varsity head coach for both the boys and girls teams while also serving as Fondy’s assistant athletic director. He is also president of the Fond du Lac Soccer Association and coaches youth soccer and runs a number of clinics.
All of that comes in addition to being a husband and father to four sons.
How does he find time for it all? Not even his colleagues can answer that question.
“I find myself asking that same question every once in a while,” said Alex O’Connor, Winkler’s assistant high school coach the last two years and a fellow association member. “I don’t think it’s easy for him to find time for everything he does, but his genuine passion definitely makes it more manageable.”
A banner year
That passion for the sport led to a big 2013 for Winkler, who earned arguably the highest honor in his 30 years of coaching, .
Winkler’s year started with a bang. At the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention last January he was named 2012 National Youth Boys Coach of the Year. The award caught him by surprise.
“I didn’t even know where the nominations came from,” said Winkler, who was recognized as a regional youth coach of the year in 2001 and 2004. “When they called to tell me, I was really shocked and surprised. At the banquet, they don’t announce the winner until then. When you hear your name called, it’s really pretty humbling. It’s a great honor.”
No one deserved it more, said O’Connor.
“It was incredibly cool to see him win that award,” he said. “I could see how proud he was to receive that award and I just know how much it means to him. Anyone who knows Greg or has played for him or been in his classes knows how deserved the award is.”
Greg Daniels served as Fond du Lac Soccer Association president the two years before Winkler took over. He knows that Winkler’s award benefits not just the winner, but the town he represents.
“I think it’s really neat, especially since he’s so active in the community,” said Daniels said, whose daughter, Erica, will cap Cardinal career as a senior for Winkler this spring. “It’s not just good for him, but the whole community. People should look at it and think ‘this is a great thing for soccer in Fond du Lac.’ ”
The coaching honor was not the only award Winkler had a hand in. Both Cardinal teams received NSCAA Team Academic Awards for the 2012-13 school year for maintaining at least a 3.25 grade point average. Fond du Lac was one of just two Wisconsin schools and 52 nationwide to have its boys and girls squads win the award.
Winkler began coaching the Cardinal boys team in 1998 and the girls in 2006. The boys team has won the award nine times in 16 years and the girls seven times in eight years.
“It’s a year-long commitment to get the award,” Winkler said. “It’s nice to get conference championships, but this is a team thing. High school sports are just part of their academic experience. WIAA is an extension of the classroom.”
“He’s always checking in on his players in school and having conversations with them to make sure they understand how important their role in the classroom is,” O’Connor said.
Winkler’s teams had continued success on the field, as well. Both finished fourth in the Fox Valley Association Conference standings. The girls went 6-3 in the league and 13-7-1 overall and reached the sectional semifinals, while the boys went 16-8-1 and lost in a regional final.
Winkler’s resume gained further credibility when he gained accreditation as an athletic director from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. He had to take four courses before fulfilling an extensive application process just to take the accreditation test.
“It’s something nice to have behind you,” Winkler said. “I’d say 20 percent of athletic directors in the country have it. It’s nice to have.”
Winkler is a motivational speaker for organizations and writes “Soccer Shorts,” a weekly column about the sport in The Reporter. In that column, he keeps readers informed about soccer happenings in town and abroad. It’s just another part of his non-stop promotion of the sport throughout the year.
All of Winkler’s roles take a considerable amount of time and effort. He and O’Connor used to have a running joke with O’Connor trying to get to soccer association functions early to start prepping for that day’s activities.
“He would get there before me every time,” O’Connor said. “I finally just started making him tell me exactly when he planned on going so I could get there before him once. Sure enough, the next time I tried to beat him somewhere to help take the load off for him, he was already there with half of what we needed to do already done.”
“That just speaks about him and his time-management.”
Winkler’s duties are more than a one-man show. He credits his coaches and supporting cast for all the work they do and, most notably, his wife Vikki.
“I would not be able to do a lot of this without the support of my wife,” he said. “She has been a huge part of the growth of our programs behind the scenes.”
“He has a great family support system that helps him,” he said. “He’s constantly on the phone with his sons, who bounce ideas off each other and help him find ways to make what he’s doing even better. His wife, Vikki, is with him every step of the way.”
Souce: Fond du Lac Reporter
December 31, 2013
Souce: Fond du Lac Reporter