Oostburg hurdling coach Jerry Kohlbeck continues coaching well into his 80s

Posted at 10:33 PM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 12:49:12-04

Oostburg, it's not the biggest city in Wisconsin. But it's home to the Flying Dutchmen and it's home to hurdling coach, Jerry Kohlbeck; 86 year old Coach Kohlbeck. 

"86 is a good ole rip age and there are a lot of people who never get that opportunity to reach 86. I just got a hunch that coaching keeps me young," said Jerry Kohlbeck, track and field coach in Oostburg for nearly 60 years. 

In 1959, Jerry made his way into town and never left. He did retire, but that only lasted one year.

If he plan's on retiring again soon, is still up for discussion. 

"You can ask my wife that. She's very supportive with my coaching but it's the age old question are you going back next year," said Jerry. 

When one has coached in the same place for nearly 60 years, chances are you've had some success. 

"All I know is that I've had four state championships, four champs, and perhaps another one this year. When I was the head coach I also had another one in shot putting. Now you ask me what do you know about shot putting. Well, enough to make this guy a state champ and now he's the head coach of our program," said Jerry. 

That's right, Head Track and Field Coach Jack Rauwerdink had no problem giving Jerry a job, because he knew first hand what this man in red suspenders and blue jeans could do.

"It just wasn't right for him to not be here. After a year he just got that itch that it was too soon, so he came back and just asked if he could do the hurdling. Well that's a no-brainer," said Jack Rauwerdink, a former athlete at Oostburg and current head coach. 

After spending a short time on the track with Jerry, it's clear he knows his stuff. It's also crystal clear that what he's done for this city and his athletes is bigger than getting over a hurdle. 

"That's my second father, basically my mom will see this and nod her head. The kids follow him around they love him to death. If you were here at the end you would see the hugs. It doesn't matter if it's a high schooler or a middle schooler, a boy or a girl, they all love him," said Jack.