The Green Bay Packers have announced that Ben Strickland of De Pere High School in De Pere, Wis., has been named the Packers High School Coach of the Week. The program is presented by Buffalo Wild Wings.
In his second year as varsity head coach at De Pere, Strickland and his Red Birds entered the Division 1 WIAA Playoffs as a No. 8 seed and defeated No. 1 seed, Milwaukee Marshall Co-Op, with an impressive score, 50-8. Their playoff run came to an end however, when they were knocked out by Fond du Lac High School in the second round. While the road ended sooner than the team would have liked, it all began in the summer with Strickland and his team hosting their Football Family Night Kickoff event. Strickland’s goal in hosting the kickoff event was to bring the community together and have the youth players in De Pere get on the field. They spend time with the high school athletes they look up to and get excited about the upcoming football season. Not only is it an exciting experience for the young kids, but it also provides important lessons and experiences for the varsity players.
“We talk about it a lot, even at the high school level you have the ability to influence the people in this community,” said Strickland. “Sports are a tremendous platform that can be used for great things. And I think our kids really embrace that and enjoy being around younger kids. It reminds them of how they were as kids. So, it’s really something where they learn how to serve the community that they’re around, and also the responsibility that goes along with being a part of the football program and being in the community that kids look up to.”
Strickland graduated from Brookfield Central High School in 2003. As a member of the Lancers, Strickland participated in football, basketball and ran track. Following high school, Strickland went on to play defensive back at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame Coach, Barry Alvarez, as well as Bret Bielema, graduating in 2007. Strickland’s coaching career began as an assistant coach at Minnetonka High School in Minnetonka, Minn., in 2008. He then returned to University of Wisconsin-Madison as a graduate assistant coach for the Badgers from 2009 until 2011. In 2012, he was promoted to the full-time defensive backs coach for the Badgers. In 2015, Strickland went on to coach defensive backs at Florida Atlantic University. After stepping away from coaching in 2017, Strickland returned to Wisconsin to coach at Madison Edgewood High School from 2018 until 2021. He was then named the head coach for the Red Birds in 2022.
Strickland was honored to have been nominated for the Coach of the Week Award and views it as a team award.
“It was very touching that people would think enough of me to nominate me,” said Strickland. “I think it’s a testament to the group of kids we have, they’re fun to be around. Our group of coaches, they’re just as dedicated as me. So, to me, I see it as a program award rather than just an individual award. The award is representative to the fact that we are on the same page with the direction we want to take this thing and the experience we want to give our kids and the bigger picture of what this program means to them in their life. With being involved in sports and being involved in football and how that’s going to build them into tremendous young men, men of character, fathers and husbands that’s what we’re really trying to build.”
Strickland and his staff oversee a program of 140 players with 70 of them suiting up for the varsity games. His assistant staff includes Jason Sullivan, Chris Paquet, Kevin Pedersen, Pat Cavanaugh, Dan Rafferty, Brett Heim, Patrick Wallace, Larry Brick, Logan Taylor, Carl Merriman, Casey Weber, Jeff Barker, Bob Meyer, Mark Bratonia, Jared Pankow, Andy Taber, Chris Stiles, Brandon Hicks and Kirk Hanna. In addition to coaching, Strickland is a special education teacher at De Pere High School. Strickland and his wife, Laura, have one daughter, Zoe, and one son, Milo.
About the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week Program:
The Packers will recognize one outstanding high school coach as their ‘Coach of the Week’ winner during the 2023 high school football season. Winners are awarded several items and privileges, including a $2,000 donation to the school’s football program from the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Wild Wings and the NFL Foundation, as well as recognition of the award on packers.com, wissports.net and wifca.org.
Nominations for Coach of the Week should be submitted by 10 a.m. every Monday to Ryan Fencl, Football Outreach Manager, at email@example.com. Please include the nominee’s name, address, school, phone number and reason he/she is deserving of the award.