By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – During his high school days at Ashwaubenon, Brady Wittig ran cross country and played basketball and baseball.
It only made sense when his competitive athletic career ended when he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he looked for another way to fill that void.
“I was set on coming to Wisconsin, so I didn’t pursue collegiate athletics anywhere else,” Wittig said. “One of my older brothers graduated from Wisconsin, both my parents did and my grandpa played basketball at Wisconsin in the 1960s. I wanted to be a Badger because it’s a great academic school.”
Enter the UW men’s basketball team – not as a player but as a manager.
Wittig said he had heard about the possibility of being a manager from Bay Port graduate Brett Frieder.
“Brett was the head manager (at Wisconsin) when I was in high school, so I reached out to him – he was very helpful,” he said. “It actually dates back to when I was in middle school, though. I came to a Wisconsin basketball camp, and my team was coached by a manager – that got me thinking.”
Wittig said when he got to campus his freshman year, he filled out an application to become a manager.
“It’s quite the process,” he said. “I secured great letters of recommendation from Ashwaubenon coach Mark Tomashek, Gary Grzesk at St. Norbert College and coach (Tom) Desotell from Sheboygan North. After two rounds of interviews, I got hired.”
Wittig said there are different roles as a manager.
“My freshman year, I was a basic manager,” he said.
Going forward, Wittig will be the head manager.
“When people hear you’re a manager, they think you have to wipe up sweat, work the clock and go to games,” he said. “There’s so much more that goes into it. We do lots of video work, we pack, unload the bus, and I’ll have to schedule other managers for practice and travel to every road game. I’ll also be in charge of hiring more managers this fall.”
Wittig said the team carries 18 managers.
“It’s the team behind the team,” he said. “We lost six seniors after last season, so we’ll have to replace quite a few. It’s a great group of managers, and we work well together. It’s a big operation.”
Wittig said during his freshman year, he didn’t get a stipend, but after that, he’s gotten paid to manage on an hourly basis.
“On top of all of this, you’re a full-time student as well,” he said.
Wittig, a neurobiology major, said he hopes to teach and coach at the high school level someday.
“I’ve had so many positive teachers and coaches impact my life,” he said. “Both of my parents are teachers, my great-grandpa was a teacher at Green Bay West and my grandpa was a physical education teacher at Lombardi (Middle School). It would be cool to be a fourth-generation Wittig to become a teacher.”
As for his managing duties at Wisconsin, Wittig said he hopes to do that this upcoming season and his senior year.
“That’s the plan,” he laughed.
Still a runner
Although Wittig doesn’t run competitively in college, he said he still runs to stay in shape and “get away from it all.”
The 20-year-old Wittig recently completed the Cellcom Marathon in a time of 3:43.50.
“I love to run,” he said. “When I feel a bit overwhelmed at school and managing, I run. I started on the cross-country team at Ashwaubenon during my junior year. I love the mental toughness aspect of it – I can turn my mind off and go.”