Bryce Kothe soars to the hoop in a recent game. Wilmot improved to 6-2 overall with a 69-66 victory over Kenosha Bradford Dec. 26 and a 90-46 win over Kenosha Christian Life Dec. 27.  (file photo)

Bryce Kothe soars to the hoop in a recent game. Wilmot improved to 6-2 overall with a 69-66 victory over Kenosha Bradford Dec. 26 and a 90-46 win over Kenosha Christian Life Dec. 27. (file photo)

He emerges as a true leader in football, basketball

By Dan Truttschel

Sports Correspondent

The starting quarterback in football and the point guard in basketball not only have to be strong athletically, but coaches and teammates must be able to trust them.

And at Wilmot this past year, those jobs just happen to be held by one person.

Bryce Kothe, the 2014 Westosha Report Male Athlete of the Year, possesses just what both positions call for, Wilmot varsity head basketball coach Jake Erbentraut said.

“Bryce is the epitome of the model student-athlete,” Erbentraut said. “Having Bryce as a student in class and coaching him the last four years, he embodies all of the qualities that make up what a student-athlete should be.

“Bryce has high character, works very hard on his studies and is a leader to so many young men and women at school. He’s not afraid to be himself and be a leader when he needs to, but is also a mentor and someone who can positively impact those around him.”

Kothe, who was a three-year varsity starter in both sports, said he’s honored to be named athlete of the year.

“It’s a great honor considering all the great athletes in the area,” he said in an e-mail. “I cannot thank my coaches and teammates enough for giving me this opportunity.”

As Kothe enters the final several months of his high school career, he reflected a bit on what his time as a Panther has meant.

It’s been a fun ride, especially for a kid who has school-choiced from Racine – which means 45 minute-drives every day the past four years.

But he wouldn’t change anything.

“My time playing sports at Wilmot has taught me so much, not only as a teammate, but as a person, also,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by great people who have made my experience so enjoyable.

“I enjoy having people look up to me and providing direction, whether it’s momentum in-game or leading by example. It has also brought my teammates and I much closer off the court because of the familiarity we have.”

With the football team in the fall, Kothe helped lead the Panthers to a share of the Southern Lakes Conference title.

Also, early in the year, as a junior, Kothe and the Panthers basketball team went 17-6 and finished a game back of first place in the SLC.

 

Leading the way

Like many seniors, Kothe has grown into his role as a leader, Erbentraut said, but he added there already were some of those qualities in place even when he came to the school as a freshman.

But now in his fourth year with the program (he was promoted to the varsity halfway through his freshman year), Erbentraut now sees a nearly finished product.

And it’s because of those leadership skills that Erbentraut and his coaching staff felt confident about having two freshmen on the varsity squad.

“Today, we sit at 6-2 (overall), and I never would have imagined we could do it,” Erbentraut said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we could have not done it without Bryce. He makes everyone better.

“That sounds like a simple thing, but I’ve coached few in my 13 years that does that consistently and with everyone he plays with. I knew his senior year would be special, but I never thought I would see him blossom like he and the team has.”

With 14 games left in the regular season, Erbentraut knows the program’s time with Kothe is coming to an end, which is just a fact of life.

But he hopes the team’s younger players have been taking some notes so they can try to fill his shoes.

“We, as a coaching staff, talked about whether to bring two freshmen up to play with the varsity this season,” Erbentraut said. “We didn’t hesitate when we knew they would have a chance to play with Bryce.

“He is everything that a student-athlete should be, and he exhibits those qualities every single day. He is a team-first individual who will be successful at whatever he chooses in life. I can’t ask for more than that for younger athletes to look up to.”

Kothe, who is undecided about his future plans, said he will take with him many special memories.

“I will remember winning conference multiple times, all the packed games, and especially all the memories with teammates and coaches off the court,” he said.

 

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