THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Komp Reflects On Storied Career
Retires After Decades On Prep Sidelines
After 33 years in the Peshtigo High School athletics scene, Sam Komp has decided to retire from his post as Bulldogs head football coach and enjoy the northwoods retirement he has earned via his decades long career as an educator.
Coach Komp, a 1964 graduate of Marinette Central whose own numerous triumphs as an athlete, including being a part of the WISAA State Championship basketball team that beat Appleton Xavier in a David vs. Goliath clash, have been well documented in these pages, leaves the field of play with a wealth of bright moments to look back on. In fact, when asked to reflect on just a few of the stories that meant something special to him and are going to always be with him from his time spent coaching and teaching football, track and basketball in the communities of Marinette and Peshtigo, Coach Komp struggles to single out any one success as standing out above the rest. The entire ride, even the rough patches when he maybe couldn't get through to a student or an athlete, has been special to him.
"You know, there have been so many different things over the years, some years ago we won a playoff game over a highly-favored team from Mayville in the last 40 seconds of the ball game with a long touchdown pass," said Komp. "This year, when we were playing the Northern Elite team, it looked like we were dead in the water early in the third quarter but we got a kick returned for a touchdown and, suddenly the guys on the bench came alive and we managed to pick up our play tremendously. That was special. But the truth is, I would be doing an injustice to many, many other teams if I were to say that those were the two best moments of my career. Every year there are memorable moments. Sometimes, it's as simple as seeing a kid reach down and do something that he didn't think he was capable of doing."
It can be as simple as that. Winning titles in the M-O Conference is no doubt gratifying and picking out one or two over-the-top spectacular moments from the entire span of his career is an overwhelming proposition. But Komp did offer up one definitive, absolute best thing from his 33 years working with young people: the tremendous satisfaction he takes from the kid who maybe wasn't given great odds at finding success coming to him two years after graduating and finding success in life, to tell the coach that he made a difference.
"It's easy for me to say that that's one of the greatest feelings in the world. It never gets old and each one of those stories is unique," said Komp, who also had the opportunity to coach five of his own sons. "It makes all the things that you do in the profession worthwhile. The education profession is one where there isn't any kind of instant gratification as far as what the finished product might turn out to be. Having a student come back and tell me that I played a role in that success is very special."
Coach Komp has pretty much seen it all through his years in the classroom and in competition and says he always did his best to stay one step ahead of anything his students threw at him, understanding that change is rapid and that young people have had steadily increased access to information. He is a man who has a practical yet very profound philosophy on teaching and interacting with young people, equating it to sport, and the level of commitment that it takes to be successful.
"You deal with thousands of students over the course of your career and you want to bat 1.000," reflected Komp. "Of course that doesn't happen and it's very tough on you. In baseball, for example, if you're successful three out of 10 times at the plate, you're doing well. As a professional quarterback, if you're completing 70% of your passes, if you're successful 70% of the time, while failing 30% of the time, you're still considered successful. In the teaching profession, if you're having those kinds of numbers, you're not doing well."