A whistle, a cell phone, a camper and a coach: UW-W quarterback camps go virtual

By Jeff Angileri
Director of University Communications, UW-W
angilerj@uww.edu

Warhawk summers are for campers. When people visit the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater this time of year, they normally see thousands of kids engaged in activities at the laboratories, athletic fields, dorms and computer labs. Learning and laughter are everywhere. And then the global pandemic hit.

In our new normal, those special summertime traditions have evolved. The campers and the learning and the laughter are happening in new ways, thanks to a little Warhawk willpower. In the UW-Whitewater Camps and Conferences office, people are making memories —and they aren’t letting a pandemic stand in the way.

One of those online camps is a football skills camp for young quarterbacks created by Warhawk Football Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback Coach Peter Jennings.

“We were tasked to see if we could bridge the gap between a live camp and no camp at all. I talked to Coach Bullis and staff,” said Jennings, referring to Warhawk Football Head Coach Kevin Bullis. “I talked to my wife, and the idea began to come together and I started to think, ‘Hey, this could actually be really pretty good!’”

Jennings was off and running with a keeper. He designed the camp for two age groups: high school players on Tuesdays and youth (grades 1-8) on Thursdays. Campers poured in, attracted by online marketing, a seemingly one-of-a-kind program and the national profile of the six-time national champion Warhawk football program. Most campers joined from Wisconsin and Illinois, but Jennings has seen registrations from Iowa, Minnesota, Wyoming and Florida.

On camp days at 4 p.m., Jennings goes from his home in Whitewater to the basement of the Berezowitz Student Athletic Complex on campus. He plugs his laptop into a projector, and his campers — about 25 of them per session — appear from their homes on a projector screen. Jennings then places his cell phone into a holder rigged to a length of plastic pipe and taped to a chair, for height. 

“There are a lot of uses for athletic tape other than taping ankles,” he said.

The camera points toward a space — also marked with athletic tape — from which Jennings demonstrates throws, fakes, fades, hip movement, footwork and all the other nuances of quarterbacking. In every session he teaches fundamentals of throwing, and he adds a new application or emphasis each time.

“I give them a drill, I teach them the drill, I explain why we’re doing the drill,” said Jennings. “I blow a whistle and they go do that movement. And so I am watching them live, and I just go through and I can say ‘Hey Bobby, great work’; ‘Jimmy, we gotta focus a little more on rotation’; ‘Tommy, nice job.’”

“Then I blow my whistle. I bring them back to the screen and I give them another drill to do and give them the why and the how for that drill, blow my whistle and give them corrections for that drill. We do that for an hour.”

Jennings credits his wife, Kim, for telling him to use the whistle and for valuable feedback as he thought about how to teach the campers. The Jennings have two young children of their own — Mara, 6, and Ben, 7.

“She was the one who said ‘Use the whistle. It’s going to make it more authentic and it’s going to be loud enough to bring kids back and forth.’ She said I should get it into as large an area as possible for myself,” added Jennings. “Being able to go over to the Berezowitz Student Athletic Complex and utilize that basement has been awesome. She helped me tailor it to something that has become pretty successful.”

Jennings said the experience has been a game changer in some unforeseen ways for everyone involved. He can’t be there in person to lift a camper’s elbow or show a camper how to turn a shoulder correctly, so he’s refined his teaching skills. He thinks about precise, descriptive language in ways that will have lasting benefits.

And then there are the campers and the moms, dads, sisters, brothers and friends who catch the balls for campers and record the campers for Jennings to see in real time.

“People are hungry to get to some sense of normalcy,” said Jennings. “Showing up virtually and throwing a football with your dad or your mom feels normal for these kids. And it feels normal for the parents. And that’s huge.”

“The fact that these kids are getting better (as players), that’s icing on the cake,” he added. “This is something that feels right. It feels like a normal summer, and maybe that’s more important than anything.”

The current round of online quarterback skill camps has ended. Information on future camps and the many programs offered by UW-Whitewater Camps and Conferences can be found uww.edu/ce.

And so remember these days, these days of summer. And remember a few words from the legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Lombardi: “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”

Whitewater 12 & Under Baseball Teams Faced Each Other at Treyton’s Field of Dreams

Courtesy of Matt Amundson, who said, “I put this together as I’m sure everyone is starved for some sports content 🙂  It appears that everyone was so excited to see baseball again that no one took any pictures.”

On Wednesday, July 8th the Whitewater 12 & Under baseball teams faced each other at Treyton’s Field of Dreams in Starin Park with Whitewater Red defeating Whitewater Grey 9-8 in a fun baseball game amongst future Whippets.  The Red team had a big first inning taking a 6-1 lead but the Grey team chipped away and eventually took an 8-6 lead heading into the bottom of the 5th inning.  The Grey team was bolstered by a strong pitching performance from Caleb Jagodinski who struck out 8 batters over 3 innings.  A bases-loaded walk off double by Ty Bucholtz ended the game in the Red team’s favor.    Leading hitters for the Grey team were Caleb Jagodzinski with a double and 2 runs batted in and Evan Amundson with 2 singles and 2 runs batted in.  Leading the way for the Red team were Lucas Jacob and Ty Bucholtz who each had 3 hits including a double by both.  Lucas added 2 runs batted in while Ty had 5. 

Wednesday, July 8
Treyton’s Field of Dreams, Starin Park
12345Runs
Whitewater Grey104038
Whitewater Red600039
Whitewater Greyposabrhrbibbso
Schlicher, Caseyss/cf401001
Roselle, Marcuscf/2b/lf311011
Carollo, Matthew3b/p210022
Jagodzinski, Caleblf/p311200
Freeman, Brodyrf/1b120011
Luebker, Jake1b/rf121110
Friend, Bradyp/cf/ss310110
Amundson, Evan302200
Leising, Evan2b/rf200002
Totals2286667
2B: Jagodzinksi
Whitewater Redposabrhrbibbso
Brummeyer, Connorp/ss210012
Spear, Emmettss/2b110021
Jacob, Lucas3b/p323200
Kulick, Aydyn1b221101
Lohmeier, Daynec/3b120021
Piper, Trevorrf300003
Bucholtz, Ty2b/c313500
Sekeres, Natelf200101
Meyer, Aidancf100011
Totals18979610
2B: Jacob, Bucholtz
Pitchers
Whitewater GreyIPHRBBSOBF
Friend, Brady136318
Jagodzinski, Caleb3202812
Carollo, Matthew1/323115
Whitewater RedIPHRBBSOBF
Brummeyer, Connor2 1/3342313
Jacob, Lucas2 2/3443616

College Football America Yearbook Preseason Poll: UW-W Ranked #1

The UW-W football team has been ranked first in the nation by College Football America Yearbook in the publication’s NCAA Division III Preseason Poll.

#2 – Mount Union
#3 – Defending National Champion North Central (IL)
#4 – University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
#5 – Wheaton (IL)

UMHB was ranked fourth as a team in the magazine’s preseason ranking. Wisconsin-Whitewater was picked #1 by the publication. Mount Union was picked second and defending national champion North Central (Ill.) was picked third. Wheaton (Ill.) rounded out the magazine’s top five.

For an article by Fox44news.com click here.

Ben Heller, WHS ’09, ready for another season of relief pitching for the Yankees

Ben Heller (2016 photo)

From the Daily Jefferson County Union: “Like most major league baseball players, Ben Heller cannot wait until the start of the 2020 season, abbreviated as it is due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When the season does officially start, the former Whitewater High School standout will be in his fourth year with one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports—the New York Yankees.

The hard-throwing right-handed relief pitcher was among 58 players—33 of them pitchers—invited to participate in the New York team’s summer camp. He explained how the Yankees are doing their best to limit the amount of players at one time at the camp, which is being held inside Yankee Stadium.”

For the complete story in the Daily Union, assuming you’re able to get past the paywall, click here.

For a Youtube with Ben discussing his first major leagues win, in 2016, click here.

Former UW-LaCrosse Record-setting Quarterback Evan Lewandowski Transferring to UW-W

Per the LaCrosse Tribune, “Former record-setting UW-La Crosse quarterback Evan Lewandowski has found a new home. Only this time it’s with a conference rival.

The Lake Zurich, Ill. native announced Monday via Twitter he was transferring to WIAC foe UW-Whitewater:

“Change of plans … I’m headed to Whitewater.”

Lewandowski had originally committed to the University of Maryland on May 1 where transfer rules would have required him to sit out for one academic year. He stayed enrolled at UW-L through last year’s Spring semester. But Maryland recently added prized Alabama quarterback transfer Taulia Tagovailoa, who is the brother of Miami Dolphins and former Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa. With senior Josh Jackson and prized sophomore Lance LeGendre already in the mix, it suddenly became a crowded quarterback room.

The Eagles nearly pulled off the upset against Whitewater, but fell 21-17 on the road to the then No. 3 Warhawks.

Last season after the Eagles nearly pulled off an upset against UW-W, Whitewater coach Kevin Bullis said, “That young man can sling a football. There were times when the ball was going 30 yards down the field, but wouldn’t get six feet off the ground.”

For the complete article in the Tribune, click here.

Report: WIAA Not Considering Moving Any Fall Sports to Spring or Flipping Sports Seasons Due to Pandemic

Per the Wisconsin State Journal, “The WIAA says it isn’t considering moving any fall sports to the spring sports season or flipping sports seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any such change would require WIAA Board of Control approval.

WIAA director of communications Todd Clark said Monday the WIAA has “entertained a number of scenarios and considerations” among many informal discussions during the pandemic.

“However, at this time, we have not spent any serious staff time and discussion on the executing a plan to flip seasons,” Clark wrote in an email. “It’s a topic that can always be discussed. Of course, anything considered will need Board of Control review and approval.”

For the full article click here.

2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Mackenzie Balanganayi, UW-W DL

Mackenzie Balanganayi

Wisconsin-Whitewater pass rusher Mackenzie Balanganayi recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Justin Berendzen. Check it out by clicking here!

  • Name: Mackenzie Balanganayi
  • Position: Defensive Lineman
  • College: Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Height: 6′ 2
  • Weight: 235 lbs 
  • Instagram: @XXMackManXX

1.What do you hope to accomplish if you make it into the NFL?

  • Well, first and foremost I want to be the best player I can be. I know wherever I end up I’ll start at the bottom of the food chain. But I hope to work my way up to being one of the best. I’m still a relatively new player to the game and I feel like I can learn so much more at the next level. 

5. How has your experience as a Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks player been?

  • It has surpassed my expectations so far. I came into the program very weary and unsure of what my role would be on the team. I was also anxious about the type of people I would meet on the squad. God willing everything worked out for the best. I’ve met some lifelong friends and I have improved immensely as a football player. 

Check out the entire interview by clicking here!

Levi Van Lanen, 4-time UW-W Rugby All American, Drafted in Major League Rugby

After being drafted 13th overall by the Dallas Jackals, Pulaski native Levi Van Lanen told Fox11 News, “I think every person that plays sports thinks about the opportunity to play at the professional level. Getting drafted is just step one. I haven’t really proven myself or anything yet. But playing with Whitewater and being on the national stage quite a few times, and playing against some higher competition in tournaments, I think that’s prepared me pretty well.”

For the story at Fox11 please click here.

Three Sponsors Renew Title Sponsorship of Discover Whitewater Race

Whitewater Unified School District Renews Title Sponsorship for 2020 DWS

WHITEWATER — June 19, 2020 — The Greater Whitewater Committee Inc.’s 2020 Discover Whitewater Series (DWS) is excited to announce that the Whitewater Unified School District (WUSD) will once be a title sponsor for the eighth year in a row. The Whitewater High School has provided the DWS with a location for the start and finish to the race since 2013 and continues to be a crucial part of this event.

“As the new District Administrator of the Whitewater Unified School District, I am discovering that Whitewater is an incredible place to live and work,” said District Administrator Dr. Caroline Pate-Hefty. “We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of individuals devoting hours to organizing this race so that we can feature the great aspects of our city, school district, and university. The community is supportive of our school district and we enjoy being able to highlight the great things happening in our schools.”

Many of the race’s volunteers come from students and faculty within the WUSD.

This year’s race is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2020 with the goal of hosting a fun and safe athletic event while building a stronger local community. To achieve this, DWS donates all profits of the race to five local charity partners.

“I am proud to be associated with the Discover Whitewater Series and I am looking forward to demonstrating how we can run a safe and healthy premier athletic event demonstrating all the wonderful sights there are to see in Whitewater,” DWS Race Director Dawson Miller said.

The DWS team is incredibly excited to see what all the positive change that will come from this sponsorship with the WUSD.  Be sure to check out the DWS’ new guidelines for race day at https://runwhitewater.com/stillrunning.

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City of Whitewater Recommits as a DWS Title Sponsor for Eighth Year

The City of Whitewater has recommitted for the eighth year in a row as a title sponsor for the Discover Whitewater Series (DWS): Half Marathon and 5K, scheduled for Sept. 20, 2020.

Since the first DWS in 2013, the team has worked alongside the City of Whitewater to create a memorable race day experience for all participants. DWS would not be what it is today without the city’s continuous support throughout the past seven years. The City of Whitewater assists DWS by providing public safety, parking, and volunteers.

“Public safety is the number one priority of DWS on race day,” DWS Executive Director Jeffery Knight said. “DWS is extremely thankful for the city’s annual contribution and their direct aid in DWS’s operations throughout the race day weekend. The police, public works and city staff are just amazing in their support of our race; we could not run this huge event without them.”

DWS provides an ideal opportunity to help promote the City of Whitewater. By creating a racecourse that highlights many of the amazing features in the city, race participants from all over can see the wonderful and unique aspects of Whitewater. The course goes past the school district, UW-Whitewater, and many different businesses, creating an upbeat and scenic route for race participants to enjoy.

“This event is an opportunity to showcase the Whitewater community and pulling it off each year is truly a community effort,” Whitewater City Manager Cameron Clapper said. “We see volunteers from all facets of the community stepping up every year to help make this event a success. DWS continues to be a key opportunity to welcome visitors and showcase the best of the Whitewater community each year. The City of Whitewater is pleased to continue its support of DWS in 2020.”

The City of Whitewater’s sponsorship also helps DWS’s efforts in supporting the community. All proceeds from the race are donated to five local Whitewater charities: Bethel House, J-Hawk Aquatic Club, Whitewater LEADS, Whitewater Unified School District and Working for Whitewater’s Wellness.

In the past seven years, DWS has been able to raise $183,500 for our five charity partners.

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Fort HealthCare recommits as a title sponsor of DWS


WHITEWATER— April 29, 2020 — The Greater Whitewater Committee Inc. is pleased to announce that this year marks Fort HealthCare’s eighth continuous year of being a title sponsor for the Discover Whitewater Series (DWS): HalfMarathon and 5K, scheduled for Sept. 20, 2020.

Fort HealthCare’s mission is to improve the community’s health and well-being. They recognize early detection and
wellness as the leading course of action for managing diseases.DWS shares Fort HealthCare’s ideology that activity and fitness are preventive measures in fighting most illnesses. Fort HealthCare promotes having an active lifestyle within their organization by encouraging their staff to participate in the annual DWS.

Both Fort HealthCare and DWS are following updates from the CDC and Governor Tony Ever’s office closely.

“Fort HealthCare is proud to be an eight year sponsor of such a well-run event for our community,” said a Fort
HealthCare representative. “Partners like the City of Whitewater help in leading our mission and vision of being the
healthiest community in Wisconsin. In this time of unrest we all need to take good care of ourselves and our loved
ones.”

DWS is appreciative of Fort HealthCare’s continued support and for their efforts helping slow the spread of COVID-19. “The DWS and the local community’s health resources wouldn’t be the same without Fort HealthCare,” DWS Executive Director Jeffery Knight said. “DWS is extremely grateful for Fort HealthCare’s sponsorship and is passionate about working alongside them to support our community in these uncertain times.”