Hall call for Lefty: Dan St. Arnauld named to WFCA Hall of Fame

Former Badgers, Predators coach Dan St. Arnauld to be inducted into WFCA shrine

Dan (Lefty) St. Arnauld, involved with high school football for more than 40 years, has been selected for induction to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen,” said St. Arnauld, noting that the late Brillion Coach Al Coenen, an early mentor, is already in the WFCA Hall Of Fame. “This doesn’t happen unless you have had good players and some really dedicated assistant coaches and a supporting administration.”

St. Arnauld, a 1973 Niagara High School graduate, also calls his family the “rock of our success.”

“My wife (Carol) took statistics at virtually every game I coached despite having her own volleyball team to coach,” St. Arnauld said. “She would encourage me to keep fighting when we had some teams that didn’t quite have the talent to compete in the M&O.

“My dad (Bert) took stats for me when I returned to Niagara and when he passed away on that night in Wausaukee my brother Bruce took defensive stats until I retired. My mother (Beverly) attended every home game as well.”

St. Arnauld helped out at Marshfield High School, coached at Brillion for three years and took over the Niagara program in 1981. He closed out a 29-year head coaching career by guiding the Northern Elite Predators, a Niagara-Pembine-Goodman co-op, to four straight Northern Lakes Conference titles. Those Predators lost just one regular season game.

“What I am most proud of was how our kids and our coaches fought to compete most years despite being the smallest or close to the smallest school in the conference,” St. Arnauld said of the M&O Conference days in Niagara. “I have many great memories that include many games, both good wins and bad losses, and many individual players.”

St. Arnauld, who led the Badgers to the 1991 M&O title that ended a 16-year dryspell for the school, wound up with a 173-104 career record. After a 2008 postseason loss to state powerhouse Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs, St. Arnauld left the head-coaching ranks and now assists with the Iron Mountain High School football program.

St. Arnauld coached many fine players but three stood out and became Wisconsin high school head football coaches — Matt Molle, Seymour; James Westrich, Bonduel; and his son Bret St. Arnauld, Mount Horeb/Barneveld.

“I know what these great men mean to this profession,” said St. Arnauld, noting the “hard work, countless hours, great wins and frustrating losses.”

“All three were great high school football players and they are now great coaches,” said St. Arnauld, jokingly adding that his coaching tree is a “twig with three branches. But those three branches are strong in character and leadership. I have no doubt that all three of these coaches, if they decide to stay coaching, will also be hall of fame coaches.”

Bret St. Arnauld, in a Facebook book, said he fell love with football at the age of three because my dad was a coach.

“I saw the impact he made on so many kids lives, and I saw how they respected him, and adored him, just like I did,” Bret St. Arnauld said. “To say he’s been an influence to kids through the game of football is an understatement.”

Dan St. Arnauld also cited his Niagara assistant coaches over 28 years including Randy Wodenka, Jim Hoogland and Robert Rugg.

“Most were not teachers and had to arrange time off to make practice and games,” St. Arnauld said. “Most, if not all, lost money while dedicating their time to our program. But these three men gave the most of their time and energy.”

Wodenka was with St. Arnauld for all 28 years, primarily on the junior varsity side.

“There was not a better coach who coached running backs and linebackers,” St. Arnauld said. “Randy was a tremendous coach and also a great role model for our players.”

Hoogland was a St. Arnauld assistant and defensive coordinator for 20 years.

“Our defenses were always well coached and our offensive lines were the envy of the M&O as coaches would rave how fast our line was at getting of the ball,” St. Arnauld said. “He was my sounding board while in school. He too was a great coach and role model for our players and students in our school.”

Rugg also served 20 years as a junior varsity coach.

“He and Randy did a superb job, and thanks to me had to adjust many times as we would steal their players to play for us on Friday nights,” St. Arnauld said. “He also came from work and gave many hours to our program. He also was a great coach as he was the defensive coordinator at the jayvee level. He also was a man of high character and dedication.”

The 2020 WFCA Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony will take place April 4 at the Marriott West in Middleton. Information on banquet tickets will be forthcoming.

Other past WFCA Hall of Fame inductees with ties to the area are John Brodie, Florence (1992); Gene Schutt, Goodman (1996); and Dave LaPoint, Florence (2004).