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Art Brunje - Westby / Lake Holcombe

03/01/2000, 12:00am CST
By Wisconsin Sports Network

Inducted in 2000

Graduate of Memorial High School –1965; B.S. Degree from UW-Superior- 1969; M.S. Degree from Winona State University- 1978.

Art was head football and track coach, JV basketball coach, assistant wrestling coach, Lake Holcombe 1969-1976; Defensive backfield coach, Winona State University 1977-78; Head baseball coach, freshman football coach, and assistant wrestling coach, Prairie du Chien 1978-79; Head football and golf coach, JV baseball coach and hockey coach, and freshman basketball coach, Westby High School 1979-present.

Art’s football teams compiled a 143-77-1 record in his 22 years as a head coach. He led his teams to two Division IV State Championships, one Division IV runner-up, 12 conference championships including ten consecutive Coulee Conference Championships, nine consecutive playoff appearances and three undefeated regular seasons.

Art started end and defensive back for perennial Jersey state power Memorial High in West New York, N.J. In his senior year he snagged 40 passes for the Tigers. In college he played offensive end and defensive back at UW-Superior under Hall of Fame coach Mertz Mortorelli. He lettered three years at UW-S.

His first head coaching position was at Lake Holcombe High School. Art vividly remembers his first practice ever when only nine players reported. Needless to say, much work needed to be done. He was extremely proud of the weight program that he established while coaching the Chieftains. He then went on to Winona State University as defensive back coach. His defensive backfield was ranked 6th in the nation in Division ll. After receiving his Masters, Art traveled down river for a brief stint as freshman football coach under Hall of Famer Paul Bebow. His freshman team was undefeated.
In 1979 he was selected as head football coach of the Westby Norsemen. His teams at Westby compiled a 109-44 record in his 15 years as head coach. Included in this record are two consecutive Division IV State Championships (1985 and 1986), one runner-up finish in Division IV (1989), ten consecutive Coulee Conference Championships, nine consecutive play-off berths, and three undefeated regular seasons (1984, 1987, 1989).

He was chosen as La Crosse Elk's Club Coach of the Year three times, WFCA Region VIII Coach of the Year twice, and the La Crosse Tribune Coach of the Year. In 1990 he was honored by Tom Carroll to be the assistant coach for the North in the Shrine Bowl, and in 1994 Art was privileged to lead the North Shrine Team as their head coach.

Art has taught English at Westby High for the last twenty-one years. He has been honored twice in "Who's Who Among Secondary Teachers." He jokingly admits that he's happy that Westby High is the only school in the state to hire a man from New Jersey to teach English to a group of Norwegians.

"I'm extremely humbled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame," says Brunje. "Actually I don't consider this to be an individual honor. All the players and the assistant coaches who gave their hearts and souls for our successes are the true honorees. Without the help of line coach John Blihovde and defensive coach Neil Hoven, I probably wouldn't be here."

Tag(s): Hall of Fame