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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Hall Of Fame Football Honors For Tim Stauss

Generally speaking, induction into the Hall of Fame for anything should be a prime opportunity, even for the most humble of personalities, to maybe let the ego inflate a little bit, to take some pride in what one has accomplished.

For Marinette's Tim Stauss, who will this Saturday become a member of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame honoring his years spent as an assistant coach with the Marinette Marines, the long journey that led him to such an honor didn't have a lot to do with ego, at any point along the way. Rather, the 30 or so year journey that led Stauss to Hall of Fame recognition always stemmed from a genuine desire to be a positive contributor in the lives of young people.

"It wasn't just the winning football games that did it for me," said Stauss. "After awhile, it became clear to me that we've got some great kids that live here in this community and what a gift it was to be around youth football and to hopefully have a positive influence."

A southern Wisconsin boy born and bred in the small farm town of Jefferson, Stauss was recruited to play football at Northern Michigan University following high school. It was on the five and a half hour drive through the entirety of Wisconsin's eastern region and into the great Upper Peninsula that Stauss began to fall in love with the community he would eventually make a difference in.

"It's funny because, driving up to school, to summer ball, I used to say 'Wow. I really love the Marinette/Menominee area.'” said Stauss. "I always thought it was a neat place."

After four years of playing football in the Mariucci-era at NMU and graduation in 1980, Stauss took a job in the banking industry in Green Bay. What he didn't know at the time was that the man who recruited him to play at NMU, Joel Hanner, a name familiar to the Peshtigo sports scene, was coaching right down the road in DePere. After a funny re-connecting of the two old associates one day, a reunion that involved Hanner, hiding in a row of bushes at a fast pitch softball game, pelting a completely unsuspecting Stauss with rocks, Hanner asked his one-time-NMU recruit to come and help out in DePere as an assistant.

About a month after that first season in DePere, Stauss and his wife, Connie, went out to dinner with the Hanners. It was at that dinner that Hanner informed Stauss of his plan to take the head football coaching position at Marinette High.

"Honest to God, I thought he was joking," laughs Stauss. "Because just that morning, I had accepted a job opportunity to start a branch up there. I had no idea. I actually thought he had found out and was just joking around. Turns out, we both thought the other was joking around. Meanwhile, both of our wives had been talking and at one point, they just sort of both looked at us and we all realized together that we were all going to be moving to Marinette."

You couldn't have scripted that episode over Friday night at dinner to happen any better than he tells it. And what flourished from that table's worth of Wisconsin families sitting around discussing future plans would touch lives in this area for many years to follow. There has to be a million clichd questions to ask a person who has spent his or her life working with youth in sports. One of the best ones out there is "How special is the feeling of having a kid come to you, say four years after graduating high school, and tell you that you made a difference in how they turned out."

Stauss' answer to the question is profound and deserves to be retold here in its entirety to close this story.

"It means the world. It means absolutely everything," said an emphatic Stauss. "It means that everything good and right about the profession you are in at the time was exactly where you were supposed to be. In that exact grain of sand, in the big picture of time, of foreverness, you landed in the right spot. It gives a ton of validation. Holy cow, I was right to do this. I’ve made a difference in someone's life. In many times, when you're looking back, that's a sentiment that can bring a tear to your eye. Hearing those words from someone you were trying to be a positive influence for, it hits you like a sledgehammer to the heart."


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