Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Coach Van Zile Honored for 43 Years of Service

On Saturday, December 11th, I witnessed one of the most memorable experiences of my adult life. My Dad, Jim Van Zile, was recognized for the 43 years of continued commitment and dedication for coaching. He coached at least two sports per year for 43 years, and there were many times that he coached three sports in a year.

Dad proudly acknowledged many other coaches, teachers and staff that helped him along the way towards attaining this award. As a youth at the Mole Lake Grade School, Dad said the biggest influence in his life was Miles Phalen, the custodian and his basketball coach. Miles was the first adult that Dad said paid any attention to his abilities.

I think receiving this award was one of the proudest moments for my Dad and our family. My Mom was never prouder of my Dad as she was that night. His emotions let loose and seeing him that way made us all emotional. We were so proud as Dad finally received the acknowledgement for all of the extra time he put in studying plays, calling other coaches for their input, and scouting away games.

In fact, he’s known for writing plays on napkins and leaving them all over the house. He would write football or basketball plays on everything – even the inside of gum wrappers. My Mom can now forgive him for the many family meals he missed, and the many nights he missed putting us all to bed or giving hugs good night many years ago. I think we all see it was worth it, though we always knew that!

From what I’ve seen, my Dad was fair and honest to everyone, as long as you were fair and honest with him. It didn’t matter where you lived, he treated all of his players as just that – players. While acting as a sports manager for Dad, I often witnessed many occasions when he would have personal talks with his players and give advice about school, home, boyfriends or girlfriends. He knew his kids couldn’t play if they were struggling with something on their mind. He would often mention mental toughness and explain how it is a strength.

I’m a bit biased, but I am very proud to acknowledge and honor my father for his 43 years of coaching the Crandon Cardinals sports teams. If my Dad coached you, taught you in class, or supported you in some way, I want to say Miigwech to you for being a part of this award because he learned something from you.

I believe that everyone learns something from every meeting they have with another person. Happy Holidays from my family to yours!!

Chanel Van Zile