By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Self-proclaimed “Proud Yooper” Jacob Polfus, was recently named the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Green Bay Southwest High School.
A native of Carney, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, Polfus has an extensive background in playing and coaching.
The 41-year-old Polfus graduated from Carney-Nadeau in 1999 and played at the University of Wisconsin-Marinette for a year before transferring to Finlandia University in Hancock for four years.
After landing a teaching job in Carney and beginning his coaching duties at the junior varsity level, Polfus eventually took over the head varsity boys’ job for several years before becoming an assistant at Bay College in Escanaba for a few years.
Despite this being his first girls’ coaching job, Polfus said he’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m excited,” he said. “My dad coached the girls at Carney for many years, so I’ve learned from him. I love challenges.”
Carney, approximately 34 miles north of Menominee on US Highway 41, has about 100 students housed in one building K-12.
“It was a hard choice to leave – I’ve been in Carney my whole life besides going off to college,” Polfus said. “It was time for a change, and I wanted to try something new and bigger.”
He said when he saw the opening at Southwest, it immediately intrigued him.
“My family and I have traveled to Green Bay quite a bit over the years, and we love the area,” Polfus said. “I remember Southwest used to play Menominee, so when I saw the opening, I said to myself, ‘I want to apply for that job.’ I like where it’s located, it seems like a good fit and they have a nice tradition. I want to give kids the opportunity to be in the gym like I had at Carney.”
Like Carney, one of the smaller districts in the state, Southwest goes up against larger schools in Bay Port, De Pere and Green Bay Preble.
“It’s similar in that regard,” Polfus said. “I also know (Head Coach) Sara (Rohde) at Notre Dame Academy – she graduated from Rapid River the same year I graduated from Carney. I reached out to her to see if she could give me a heads up about the (Fox River Classic Conference) and what I’m getting into. When I coached the boys at Carney, I went up against those North Central teams that won three consecutive (Michigan High School Athletic Association Class D) state titles (2015-17). I like being the underdog.”
No stranger to success in the U.P., Polfus’ dad, Paul, led the Carney girls to consecutive MHSAA Class D state titles in 1989-90.
“I had my dad as a coach in high school as well,” Polfus said. “I watched him go through those girls’ programs. It was fun to see a community rally around the team. It’s been fun learning from him and learning from his experiences. He’s been through it all.”
Polfus takes over for Berri West, who stepped down after the recently-completed season.