Tom Schweiger finished work one afternoon last week and made a beeline for a Milwaukee bowling alley.
Schweiger wasn't adhering to the time-honored Milwaukee tradition of bowling after work, however. Rather, he was fulfilling a decisively new role, that of head coach of the new Whitnall High School Bowling Club.
The club is one of several new organizations added since the school district lifted a moratorium on extracurricular clubs in 2008.
"I've been involved with bowling for years, and (students) were trying to start a bowling team at Whitnall High for a couple of years," said Schweiger before a practice at Holiday Lanes in Milwaukee. "Last fall the school district finally recognized us."
The club has 14 students, eight on a varsity team and six on a junior varsity squad.
Other clubs are taking advantage of the new opportunity.
R.G. Luckow, coach of the new Powerlifting club, noted that his group formed three years ago but was not recognized until last fall.
Luckow said he has about 30 Whitnall High School students, including three girls, in the weight-lifting club.
"Primarily, we have football players, but there are some baseball players. Two out of the three girls are swimmers," Luckow said.
The change also opened the door for another group of athletes with a more spiritual activity in mind. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, with about 30 kids, now meets twice a month in the high school library.
"It's so nice. We used to bounce around between a couple of churches. When we came here, our membership went up unbelievably because the location is a lot easier for the kids," said Mark Laing, a WHS assistant football coach and one of four club leaders.
New clubs have boomed in popularity since being recognized last fall, said Mike Brand, Whitnall district athletic/activities director. Other new clubs include Origami and Gay & Straight Alliance.
Paying their way
Students joining any club, old or new, pay a $20 annual fee, but there are some funding differences.
Brand said some old clubs receive funding from the Athletic Department. The new clubs, however, must cover their expenses.
"At this time we're not adding any new clubs that are requesting funding," said business manager Amy Kohl.
Luckow said fundraising for powerlifting is not easy because of meet entrance fees and the expense of some fairly costly gear required to practice and compete.
"But at least now we can fundraise under the school's name," Luckow said, adding his club will soon launch a mulch-selling fundraiser.
Some of the new clubs would like to eventually award letters to participants for their efforts, although that is not yet sanctioned.
"Some of these clubs, such as bowling and powerlifting, do compete and would like to do the same thing that other sports do," Brand said.
Luckow said he would like to give a letter to powerlifters such as sophomore Nathan Marshall, who recently set an American record in his age and weight class for the squat-lift.
"It's one step at a time," Luckow said. "At least now because we're recognized we can do the 'walk of champions,' " he said referring to the practice of saluting victorious athletic teams. "They work their butts off, and it's about time somebody recognized them for what they do."
John Neville can be reached at (262) 446-6609.
BY THE NUMBERS
clubs in Whitnall School District
students to join clubs since last fall
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