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Celebrating 20 years of "The Warrior Way" 1993-2013

By Sjm, 12/03/13, 6:15PM CST


Celebrating 20 years of “The Warrior Way” 1993-2013

This year we celebrate the 20th season of Warrior varsity hockey in Waunakee. It may seem to this generation of skaters that Waunakee has always had a school-sponsored, WIAA recognized hockey program. But we didn’t always have a great facility to play in, nor was there always a varsity team. In 1991, the parents of the club program decided it was time to change that.

The first attempt at petitioning the school board for a varsity team was turned down. Another concerted effort in 1992 provided enough information logistically and financially to win approval from the school administration and school board. That first year as you might imagine was a bit rocky; playing an independent schedule including some games against junior varsity teams. The team played at Sun Prairie Ice Arena (now a pile of rubble in the Prairie Athletic Club parking lot), and had a budget of about $20,000. That first roster had 20 players; two seniors, three juniors, seven sophomores, and eight freshmen.

Their fundraising efforts consisted of running the food stand at the Parade of Homes, private donations, and a calendar raffle (so is 2013 a ‘back to the future?’). The team battled for ice time, taking what was left over at Sun Prairie Ice Arena. Mark Schlappi was a freshman on the squad and his father, Ed spearheaded the first few years as president of the booster club. “We really want to be good, and if that’s the only time we can get ice, then we’ll take it,” said the young skater. Schlappi finished his four year high school career as the leading scorer (66g-83a-149) in Waunakee history until a forward named Jason Ford donned a Warrior sweater. Jason overtook Schappi’s benchmark in January 2012, setting the career scoring mark with 95 goals, 113, assists for 208 points – in just 3 years.

Dennis Ryan, an All-American skater from Eau Claire, was named head coach and led the young Warriors to a respectable record of 8 wins and 13 losses in that inaugural year. Coach Ryan would remain the head coach through the 1998-1999 season amassing a total record of 73-32-3 and guiding Waunakee to its first hockey conference title in 1996-97; just four seasons after jumpstarting the varsity program. 

Following Ryan in the coaching seat was Dave Weber (1999-2001, #5 State Ranking); Gary Leatherberry (2001-2005); Jeff Weum (2005-2009); and now Eric Olson (2009-present). His teams have amassed a record of 61 wins, 41 losses, and 2 ties, including two Badger North conference titles; two-time regional playoff champs, #9 State Ranking and twice Honorable Mention.

As Coach Olson, his staff, and the 2013-14 Warrior skaters take to the ice for this 20th season of Warrior hockey, we tap our sticks in respect to the many parents and skaters have put time, effort, sweat and resources into smoothing the ice for the rest of us who carry on the “Warrior Way” traditions.

This year’s Booster Club Board of Directors extends a special thank you to the 1993-94 Waunakee High School Booster Club Board of Directors: Ed Schlappi, Darrell Kutchmarek, Al Andersen, Roy Carter, Bob Syverson, Dave Weber, Dell Dickens, and other dedicated parents.