A few years ago, when the fabulous new Brown Deer Fieldhouse was celebrating its opening night, I joked with Falcon hoops Hall of Famer and long-time NBA player Steve Novak about his Dad Mike Novak.
Everyone in the area knows that Mike coached Steve to the WIAA state tournament and then took over as athletic director about 17 years ago. A massive photo of Steve receiving the roar of the crowd after a big NBA 3-pointer (his specialty) sits across the back wall in his Dad’s office.
Mike was celebrating this great moment for Brown Deer, which not only included the fieldhouse but also a great expansion and improvement of educational facilities at the school. He was laughing, shaking hands and most deservedly having a good time.
I turned to Steve and only half-seriously asked him if his Dad was ever going to retire.
Steve just laughed and said “Nah, he’s a lifer.”
Well, “the lifer” is actually going to call it a career at the end of the school year after 34 years of teaching, administrating and coaching.
“It will be a formal retirement,” Mike said, “but I do want to be around to help the new person (this fall). Help with the transition. The job (of athletic director) has developed and changed for the last 15-20 years. Some things go on as they’ve always done, but there are some new things out there that no one could have anticipated.
“A new person coming in can’t be expected to do it all right away.'”
Still, Mike is looking forward to more private time, especially with a growing number of grandchildren at his feet.
“This really might be the right time,” he added. “There are some family things that need some attention. Sooner or later, things like this (retirement) do happen.”
And though Brown Deer has experienced enrollment declines in the last decade, there are things that have been accomplished that put a smile on his face.
The Brown Deer Hall of Fame was started a few years ago and is now a big success and of course, the voter-approved referendum, which made the fieldhouse and classroom expansion possible, was a definite look to the future.
The fieldhouse is now a “go-to” destination for high-level WIAA tournament basketball games come March and Mike Novak has been an enthusiastic backer of hosting as many games as possible.
Brown Deer’s boys basketball team winning WIAA state D3 titles in 2014 and 2015 under coach Kelly Appleby certainly didn’t hurt in that regard.
So Mike Novak will take a long look around at things as the school year starts to wind down. He will carefully log each memory and recall all the good that has been achieved and all the good people who have come and gone while on his watch.
Still, he’s in no hurry to leave.
“I’m not quite comfortable leaving just yet,” he said. “I’ll still be haunting this place for awhile because I’ve developed quite a habit of being here (chuckles).”
Speaking of milestones, there was a grand leave-taking this beautiful spring day in Madison as former Germantown star basketball player and University of Wisconsin men’s basketball folk hero Zak Showalter received his diploma along with several of his teammates during Wisconsin’s commencement ceremonies.
He and his teammates, including Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, posed for happy photos with Badgers’ coach Greg Gard afterward. This Wisconsin senior class turned in a marvelous record over its time, including two NCAA Final Fours.
Showalter ingratiated himself to Badger fans over the course of five years with his hard-nosed defense, ability to take charges and his relentless, “never-say-die” attitude.
Showalter most famously hit a clutch 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime in a recent NCAA regional semifinal against Florida. The shot made the tournament’s famous “One Shining Moment” montage especially for how Showalter punctuated the shot with his friend Aaron Rodgers’ famous “belt” routine. The Packers’ QB and Showalter are friends.
Showalter’s dad and high school coach Steve Showalter was of course at graduation. A three-year run of Warhawk WIAA state titles started in Zak’s senior year at Germantown in 2012.
The famously intense Steve Showalter, whose passion for hoops clearly rubbed off on his son, beamed with pride and even admitted to shedding a tear this day.
Why not? It was a great day to celebrate.