Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography. Less than two weeks ago with the baseball team competing in the Division III national title game against Emory in Appleton, Leipold along with a majority of his staff made the journey to support the program. I know each coach is focused on their team and that if they played well that this something special could be accomplished. We had an opportunity to watch the baseball championship game and it was pretty special to witness that type of history. Photos by Larry Radloff and Eric Kelley, d3photography.
But he can tell you it sits on top of a hill overlooking Perkins Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and that he and his football teammates have spent years pounding on that boulder with a sledgehammer, trying to batter it into submission.
Sisyphus may have been sentenced to an eternity of pushing a giant rock up a hill, but the Warhawks at U-Dub-Dub are proud to pound on their own rock year after year -- with little hope of ever cracking it -- because it sets the tone for the program.
Eventually if you keep working hard, things are going to happen.
The atmosphere at home games is lively, with a loud, purple-clad sometimes purple-painted student section, a Civil War re-enactor called Cannon Man who fires his artillery piece after home team scores and, quite often, a full house.
The dominance the Warhawks have achieved -- a record since with seasons of , , , and -- is fashioned on a different formula than in major college football.
At UW-Whitewater, the players are good, but generally a tick slower and smaller. Many of the coaches have other duties as teachers or counselors, and some have other jobs off campus. And though the Warhawks drew more fans in than any other Division III school in the country, the grand total was just 46, Players play for the sheer joy of it -- while studying to become teachers, accountants or attorneys -- and pay for the privilege.
Each UW-Whitewater player touches the rock before every home game.
The fact that Leipold took the Warhawks to a championship his first year and has won four Stagg Bowls makes him the prime suspect, yet the year-old coach deftly sidesteps praise and pitches it elsewhere. He credits previous coaches, the administration, the facilities, his staff, his players and even opponents such as Mount Union -- which Whitewater has played in the Stagg Bowl every year since -- as lifting the program.
Among the factors: The coaching DNA: Forrest Perkins coached 29 seasons at the school before handing off to one of his former quarterbacks, Bob Berezowitz.
Berezowitz coached 22 seasons before handing off to one of his former QBs, Leipold. Leipold says both coaches -- who still come to games -- were not only mentors, but set a winning tone and upgraded facilities to help recruiting.
When Whitewater decided to improve in the early s, Berezowitz scheduled regular-season games against powerhouses Mount Union and St.
Those matchups prompted Whitewater to go after better talent. The Mount Union-Whitewater duels have continued, with the teams meeting in the past seven Stagg Bowls.
Mount Union won three of the first four; U Dub-Dub four of the past five. The players: UW-Whitewater, says Leipold, is in a good position to get talent because, with only one scholarship program in the entire state the Badgers , it often gets players who might play at a higher level elsewhere, but want to stay in state.
Other schools in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association also benefit from that, he says. And with a smaller roster -- capped by the school at -- it promotes constant internal competition.
Lance Leipold, a former quarterback at UW-Whitewater, has led his team 46 straight wins. But the team is fundamental and physical. Hansen, the starting center, agrees, saying physicality is always a focus of practice.
Like the rest of the Warhawks during this championship run, the undersized Hansen is eager to outwork the competition and make his mark -- even on a boulder. That theme has been pounded home.