It is said that the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step, Coach Jon Steffenhagen took the first step of his amazing career in 1988 at West Salem High School. His career spanned five decades, at four schools, in three sports, on two continents, and one incredible legacy. His journey has been filled with memories, relationships, and a legacy that will live on through all the players he coached and the lives he’s touched.
Jon grew up in Spencer, WI, he played OL for Spencer High School, where he was a member of the 1982 WIAA Division 5 State Runner Up team. His playing career would continue at UW-La Crosse, where he played for the legendary Roger Harring and was a member of the 1985 NAIA Division 2 National Championship team.
His coaching career began in 1988 at West Salem high school, where he was Head Powerlifting Coach (88-93) and an assistant football coach. In 1990 he added head wrestling coach to his resume and would hold that position until 1996. He was the offensive line coach at Winona State University from 1990-1992, and from 1993-1995 at UW-La Crosse. 1995 was special for Jon, because he got to coach with Roger Harring on the undefeated Division 3 National Championship team.
It was the connection to Harring that took Jon on his next journey, to Ancona, Italy in January of 1996. Steffenhagen would be the head coach of the Ancona Dolphins, a professional football team in the Italian 1A division. Despite starting the season 0-4, the team would rally to reach the 1A quarterfinals. While in Italy he received a call about an opportunity at G-E-T.
He returned in June 1996 and has spent the last 25 years as teacher, head football coach, head powerlifting coach, and weight room coordinator at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau. In his career as powerlifting coach, he guided his teams to nine state championships and finished top three in state a total of 17 times. Those teams also achieved a top five national ranking nine times as well. In his 25 seasons as head Football Coach at G.E.T. there would be a total of 20 playoff appearances over 24 playoff eligible seasons, and 10 Coulee Conference Titles. When asked about his success he said, “I hate thinking any of this was me. It was the kids, bottom line.”
Tag(s): Hall of Fame