Community ‘team’ assists students in generating new field goal posts

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One of Wauzeka-Steuben’s new goal posts dazzled against a beautiful winter sunset this week. The two posts were installed on the football field in October, after a great “team” effort in making them by community members and students. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin


Personally building something to guarantee quality is a strategy exemplified in the new goal posts that stand out on the Wauzeka-Steuben Schools’ football field. As their community’s cohesive reputation has come to be known, Wauzeka area residents once again spawned a collaborative effort to envision, collect materials, construct and erect the latest posts installed on the 50-year-old field. 

The team working on this project included supportive alumni and business owners, teachers and students—some who also play football for the Blue-Golds.

“Our community pride is incredible. People came out of the woodwork for this,” remarked Tom Martin, school board member. “It really does take a village to make something like this happen.”

Alumnus Mike Mullikin got the ball rolling on the project in spring of 2019 and acted as the community liaison from start to finish. He, himself, ironically, played his last senior football game, among the first group of players to ever step foot onto the “new” Wauzeka gridiron in 1970. “I scored the first eight points ever on that field,” Mullikin shared, modestly.

It’s that reverence for local athletics and the district as a whole that strengthens the school and student opportunities at Wauzeka-Steuben. 

“Mike has been helping revitalize some of our recreational and co-curricular areas around school,” explained Brad Gillitzer, technical education and shop teacher. “He helped fund the material cost (for the goal posts) and found local support.”

This included resources such as Bob Meier at R&S Welding in Wauzeka and Greg Russell at Wolf Machine in Prairie du Chien. 

Taking the lead as designer, Riley Hooker, a senior during the 2019-2020 school year, researched sizes, regulations, materials, fabrication methods and more. Using a 3D software at school called Autodesk Inventor, Hooker created all the parts and assemblies. 

From there, the parts were sent to Wolf Machine, where steel was ordered and cut to size, then bent and welded to a certain degree.

“Some of the bends and welds were out of our capabilities here at school,” Gillitzer noted. 

During the summer of 2019, all the material was delivered to the school, where a group of students finished welding in the shop. In addition to Hooker, these students were Wyatt Boudreau, Vern Atkinson, Ryan Fralick and Joe Mezera. 

Next, the goal post framework was taken to R&S Welding.

“Bob Meier helped tremendously. This is and was the biggest metal fabrication I or the students had been part of, so we needed expert advice,” Gillitzer said. 

According to Meier though, it was the students who did all the hard work. He only offered the space, equipment and a little guidance.

“They were really nice lads. I spent a whole evening with them and we had the time of our lives,” Meier stated. 

Upon final assembly, Gillitzer reached out to Dan Noble, of Noble Sandblasting in Prairie du Chien. All the goal post components were taken there and sandblasted in preparation for painting. 

“About mid-August (2019), we finished the painting at school with the trusty assistance of our original crew, and added help from Hannah Mullikin, who was also a senior last year,” Gillitzer said. 

Since it was just before fall football, there was no window of time to install the goal posts before the season got underway. As a result, the plan was to place them prior to the 2020-2021 football season. 

Though the season was postponed until spring of 2021 due to COVID-19, the posts were erected on Oct. 14.

Don and Tyler Atkinson, of Atkinson Excavating in Wauzeka, dug and removed the soil. Brad Bay, of Prairie Sand and Gravel in Boscobel, donated the concrete and helped prep and pour the site for installation, alongside school maintenance staff Pat Harvat and Todd Russell.

Several weeks later, after the ground settled and concrete cured, Harvat and Russell led six senior tech ed students in putting the finishing touches on the goal posts. These students included Mike Zinkle, Ethan Karnopp, Brad Karnopp, Reed Stenner, Beau Bunders and Ryan Fralick.

This culmination brought the project nearly full circle. An official dedication is anticipated to occur during a football game this spring.

“These kind of goal posts could have cost $6,000-$8,000 apiece (not including installation), but we got it done for less than $2,000 total,” Mullikin pointed out, noting that the students got hands-on experience this way too.

“This is what can be done when we utilize our resources,” Martin added. “I’m gonna kind of miss our old H-style goal posts. But when I’m taking the Pledge of Allegiance before the first game, and looking at our more modern football field, I will be swelling with community pride.”

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