When new Brookfield Central Associate Principal of Athletics and Activities Don Kurth left a similar position at Franklin in 2010 after several successful years, he didn't take much memorabilia with him.
Except one thing, a team autographed helmet from the Sabers' 2006 WIAA Division 2 state-championship football team. Franklin won a game many observers felt was the greatest in state football finals history.
A game Franklin won in overtime. Over Brookfield Central.
'That's never seeing the light of day in my office,' laughed Kurth shortly after the Elmbrook School Board approved his hiring on July 12.
Kurth officially took the reins on Monday, July 18, taking over for the highly successful Todd Sobrilsky, who oversaw a vast ramping-up of the Lancers' resources and facilities in his tenure.
The 48-year old father of two spent the last several years at Cedarburg as a counselor.
Kurth knows what he is stepping into with the high-profile, high-expectation position with the Lancers. He liked his job in Cedarburg, but the three-sport Germantown graduate ('with limited athletic ability,' he said with a laugh) and former head girls track and cross country coach and assistant football coach at Franklin, missed the action.
'I couldn't go to events at Cedarburg because it would bother me that I wasn't involved at any level (administratively or coaching),' he said. 'I really did miss it.'
So simply put, the Central post was too good for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate to pass up.
'A mutual colleague told me about it and told me I should look into it,' he said. 'He could not say enough positive things about (Principal Brett) Gruetzmacher and the entire leadership team at Central.
'I respond to a solid vision like that. I grew up in Germantown and I knew all about the Elmbrook School District. I competed against the teams from East and Central. I know they have great parents, great kids. One of the first things I did (before formally looking into the post) was go to the GMC (Greater Metro Conference) website, and I noticed that Central is always in the hunt for conference and state titles. They have a tradition of success here and my goal is to keep that moving forward.'
Central's leadership feels it scored a coup with the hiring of Kurth.
'I am excited about Don's experience as an educator and the wealth of knowledge he brings to Brookfield Central,' said Gruetzmacher. 'His diverse background will prove invaluable as he leads Central's athletics, arts and activities, and supports the needs of students, staff and families.'
Kurth is stepping into a solid situation at Central, which is a well-funded district that has spent generously in recent years to upgrade its gym, provide a new on-campus turf baseball field and which was among the first to put in an all-purpose turf football/soccer field, among other improvements.
He will oversee an active student population that last year had an impressive 85 percent participation rate in athletics and activities. Kurth was a drummer in several area bands years back, and he will look to use his diverse background and experience to help expand on that figure.
'I have experience in high-profile sports and low-profile sports; I've coached both girls and boys,' he said. 'I've won big (coaching a state runner-up finish with the Franklin girls track team in 1999 and that aforementioned football title), and I've lost big, too.
'I bring the perspective of teacher, counselor and coach. Todd (Sobrilsky) did a great job. He has things moving along smoothly here, and I intend to keep it going that way.'
Kurth made a good impression on the school board, digging up a blue, black and white tie for the meeting on July 12. It is part of an acclimation process which is moving along quickly.
'I've already met a few of the coaches,' he said, 'and I've already had a good talk with (football coach) Jed Kennedy (who he knew from his time at Franklin). My first goal is to meet the staff and the coaches and then try to get to as many events as possible, meeting as many kids as I can along the way. I'll also arrange meetings with the parents.'
He's already impressed with long-time athletic secretary Joy Taylor, and he's looking forward to reacquainting himself with old Germantown football teammate and current Central counselor Jamie Meulemans, for whom Kurth blocked when Meulemans was a great running back for the Warhawks in the early 1980s.
In short, he'll try to find his feet at Central and not impose his will on things. He'll keep a simple philosophy.
'One, are the kids learning? Two, are they having a good experience? Three, are they getting better?' he said. 'I want to find out how they do things here, what the expectations are (athletically, academically, ethically).'
And he knows in this job, you have to maintain perspective.
'Success is measured in various ways,' he said. 'Of course we want to win, but we know a lot of it is about development.'