Prudisch steps down as NDA soccer coach
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – After three straight trips to the WIAA state boys’ soccer championship match, Notre Dame Academy Coach Michael Prudisch has decided to step down from his position.
It was a tough decision after four successful seasons with the Tritons.
“I was even debating it going into this past season, because I have a 2-year-old at home and my 9-month-old baby girl wasn’t born back in March, so were going to have two kids under 2 years old going into season,” Prudisch said. “I was debating it, but my wife encouraged me to stick it out for another year, see how it goes. I’m only 30 years old, I still have a lot of time that I can coach, but you only get to raise kids once.”
Prudisch’s resume speaks for itself: a career record of 75-16-14 career with four regional championships, three sectional championships and three consecutive trips to the state title match.
“I’m hoping it’s more so just taking a break from coaching and I can hopefully work my way back into it,” Prudisch said. “The fact that I have three silver balls and no gold balls is going to definitely keep me yearning to come back.”
Prudisch took over the Notre Dame coaching job in 2019 and quickly returned the program back to prominence.
Notre Dame won three state titles in the first decade of the 21 st century, but missed out on state 2016-19.
Tritons athletic director Matt Koenig said advancing to back-to-back-to-back state finals does not happen by luck.
“As a coach, there is a lot of time, effort and thought that goes into preparing a team of 22 athletes for the grind of a high school regular season, then a run in the tournament,” Koenig said. “To lose nine to 11 seniors every year over the last four years and to still make it back to the state finals three times says it all about the kind of coach Mike Prudisch was and what he brought to NDA. It was a remarkable run that he made. He had the knowledge of soccer and he prepared the athletes for those runs. Now with that he had talented athletes to do the work on the field, but the team needs a leader to call the shots.”
Prudisch’s players really enjoyed learning from their coach.
“I first want to extend a thanks to coach Prudisch for always supporting us and helping us grow on and off the soccer pitch,” Notre Dame senior standout Emmett Lawton said. “I actually almost quit soccer after eighth grade heading into high school coming off some rough experiences, but it was the conversations with Mr. Prudisch that convinced me to stick with it. I’m very grateful for that as his soccer program has given all participants lifelong friends and it has taught us how to collaborate, lead and overcome adversity.”
Prudisch felt like he was respected right away when he came to Notre Dame. That helped the program achieve so many things in just four short years.
“The first thing that comes to mind is that I was just blessed to walk into the program that I did with such a background and tradition of excellence. I think I came in at just a great time where the team had had a few down years, but we brought in a new group of guys and those guys fortunately were all very welcoming and inviting of a new head coach,” Prudisch said. “I think a big part of them accepting me was realizing that I have a lot of soccer background as a player and then also being a younger player, I like to jump into practices and they see that I can still take them to school, so I think that earned some respect there as well.”
Prudisch, who graduated from Verona High School in 2010, never made it to state during his prep days. So when he made it as a coach in 2020, it was a great feeling.
“Making it to state the first time was pretty special, but then again that was the weird COVID year when only half the teams were competing, so that one it’s almost like there’s an asterisk by it because only half the teams were competing in the spring,” Prudisch said. “But then making it the second and the third time, you realize in the moment how difficult it is and there’s a lot of times throughout the season where you’re like, oh man, I don’t know how we’re going to do it. Doing that not once, not twice, but three times — the moment that led to that accomplishment is what I’m going to cherish moving forward.”
When Prudisch decided now was the right time to step aside from coaching, he told Koenig he will be happy to help ease the transition when a new coach is hired.
Prudisch doesn’t know how long he’ll be away from coaching, but he knows he’ll be back at some point down the road.
“I don’t think it would be in the next five years or so, just because the kids are going to start doing activities and sports and I hope to coach my kids through whatever they choose to do,” Prudisch said. “I think it would be really cool to get back into it by the time they’re in high school and coach them through high school would be really special. We’ll see. I’m kind of taking it year by year.”
That begs the question, will Prudisch only coach at Notre Dame or if an offer from another school came along, is it possible he could take it?
“That’s a tough one,” Prudisch said. “That’s funny, because I was just texting Chris Becker from Preble and he said, ‘Well, if you ever want to get back into it, you let me know and I’ll find a spot for you.’
“It will definitely depend. I think the way I kind of envisioned it playing out is at some point when the time’s right, I’ll work my way — even if it’s a volunteer coach for Notre Dame and then work my way back up the ranks from there. Obviously, if the head coaching job opens up here, I would jump on that. But I think part of me also would be OK being an assistant coach just because there’s a huge difference between being the head coach and the assistant coach for a varsity program. With kids, that would still give me a lot of flexibility, but I still get to enjoy the thrills of coaching.”