The Green Bay Packers have announced that Taylor Ripplinger of West High School in West Bend, Wis., has been named the Packers High School Coach of the Week. The program is presented by Buffalo Wild Wings.
Ripplinger, in his first year as head coach of the Spartans, has his team out to a 2-3 start. While this record might not jump off the page to most, those familiar with the program know that prior to this season, the last game West Bend West won was on Oct. 13, 2017, against "in-school" rival West Bend East. West Bend East and West have a unique dynamic in that while the athletes play for different programs, they share the same school hallways under one building. In elementary school, students are assigned West or East but can decide which program to be enrolled in their freshman year of high school. While many students stay with the program they have grown up in, each program's recent performance in sports has made an impact on athletes' decisions on whether to switch. Ripplinger and his staff have made huge strides in a short amount of time to try and reverse the negative connotation with the West program and develop a new winning culture that hasn't been seen in years.
"Last year, our entire roster, freshman through senior was about 40 to 45 kids," Ripplinger said. "So we went back in, and there were a lot of guys that had quit over the past couple of years, that we would talk to them after school, we would talk to them in their other sports and go watch them… we would go to [their] games and show that we cared about them and tried to build that connection with them and we had gained probably 10 kids that had previously quit. So that was priority number one, and number two was just building a culture. Every program that I played for, whether it was high school or college, we were pretty successful. And everything that they attributed to that was the culture, and the work ethic, and it's built on being a family and that kind of had been missing at West for a while."
Ripplinger graduated from Arrowhead High School in 2013. Throughout high school, he participated in football, baseball, track and powerlifting. He played cornerback under Coach Greg Malling. Following high school, Ripplinger went on to play football as a safety at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh under WFCA Hall of Fame Coach, Pat Cerroni. He graduated from UW-Oshkosh in the fall of 2018. Ripplinger's coaching career began as the defensive coordinator for West Bend West in 2020. He then took over as head coach of the Spartans this season.
While Ripplinger is honored to win this award, he views it as an accomplishment for the entire program.
"It means a lot," Ripplinger said. "I think these players and our coaches should be very proud of this moment. In the past five years, when we've been mentioned in the newspaper or on the news, it's been about the losing streak…to get something positive coming back is really going to help build some excitement around us. For these players to know that all of that work that they put in…we really pushed them this offseason and demanded a lot from them and from the assistant coaches, and I think now it's paying dividends. For it to get recognized, I think it's going to mean a lot, from top to bottom."
Ripplinger and his staff oversee a program of 72 players with 45 suiting up for the varsity games. His assistant staff includes Joe Schmitz, Joe Sebeny, Ryan Grass, Dave Ullsperger, Jordan Liebe, Mike Clark, Alex Hoffman, Vai Lo, Matt Reinhart and Waylon Mortenson. In addition to coaching, Ripplinger works in supply chain logistics for Molson Coors Beverage Company.
About the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week Program:
The Packers will recognize one outstanding high school coach as their 'Coach of the Week' winner during the 2022 high school football season. Winners are awarded several items and privileges, including a $2,000 donation to the school's football program from the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Wild Wings and the NFL Foundation, as well as recognition of the award on Packers.com, Wissports.net and Wifca.org.
Nominations for Coach of the Week should be submitted by 10 a.m. every Monday to Ryan Fencl, Football Outreach Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the nominee's name, address, school, phone number and reason he/she is deserving of the award.