Ripon's Kelm Named Packers High School Coach Of The Year

Posted Dec 18, 2003

Rick Kelm, head coach of the Ripon Tigers, has been selected as the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Year, the Packers and the WFCA announced Thursday.

Ripon finished 14-0 overall and appeared in their first state title game vs. Brodhead/Juda, winning 21-7. The varsity team has 46 players with 8 assistant coaches.

Kelm, Ripon's head coach since 1998, spent 1995-97 at Omro as an assistant under Ed Gross, a member of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Kelm attended college at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, serving as an assistant from 1981-84, and graduated in 1985.

He then became an assistant at Sun Valley High School in Monroe, North Carolina from 1985-86.

Kelm, a native of Ripon, Wis., attended Ripon High School where he played football for Jim Watson. He also played basketball and baseball.

He and his wife, Karen, are parents to Aaron, 11, and Rebecca, 6.

Ripon opened the playoffs by beating Valders, 48-13, in the opening round and later proceeded to beat Oconto, 56-42, in the second round.

The Tigers' postseason stayed alive with a third round win over Winnebago Lutheran, 41-26, and Wittenberg-Birnamwood, 56-20, in the semifinal.

Everyone's hard work made the Tigers successful.

"The most important thing is working with such special groups," Kelm said. "We have a tremendous coaching staff. When you're talking about a coach of the year, it's really a coaching staff of the year or program of the year because I have such an incredible group of coaches that work with me and we work as a team."

The second part of the equation is of course, the players, whose work in the off-season aided in bringing home the title, while the concept of team was not lost on this years' squad.

"This group really committed themselves to getting ready in the weight room and spending the time conditioning and getting faster," Kelm said.

"Even though we had some terrific individuals with some terrific numbers, they were quick to point out the people that were throwing blocks for them and the people on the defensive line that allowed them to make tackles. The players were very quick to give credit to somebody else and say, 'Look, we're doing this with 11 people on the field and we're doing this as a group,' and I think that what made this group so special because they really did realize that it's everybody."

Finally, Ripon prospered not only because of speed and strength, but also due to quality of character.

"They're a great group of football players, but more importantly a great group of people," Kelm said. "They really do get along so well and that chemistry is so important to us."

The Packers and the WFCA recognized one outstanding high school coach as their Coach of the Year winner for the 2003 high school football season. As a Coach of the Year winner, Kelm will be awarded a $2,000 donation to the school's football program from the Green Bay Packers. He will also be presented with his award at the Packers home game vs. Denver on Dec. 28 and honored in January at the WFCA all-state banquet in Stevens Point.

This is the third year both organizations have awarded the honor together. The WFCA has awarded a Coach of the Year since 1976, while the Packers have presented the same award since 1998, in addition to the Coach of the Week program which has recognized 66 outstanding coaches statewide.

More information regarding this award and the WFCA is available on the world wide web at

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