Remembering ‘Sluggo’

Late AD Slagle memorialized at Celebration of Life ceremony
Review photos by Greg Ceilley Story by Jamie Piontkowski


A LARGE CROWD filled the Plymouth High School gymnasium (above) at a Celebration of Life remembrance of the late Mike Slagle, Plymouth High School athletic director who passed away July 13 two days after suffering a heart attack. Among those who spoke were Slagle’s colleague, Gale Grahn (below) and his daughters Nikki and Courtney (bottom). A LARGE CROWD filled the Plymouth High School gymnasium (above) at a Celebration of Life remembrance of the late Mike Slagle, Plymouth High School athletic director who passed away July 13 two days after suffering a heart attack. Among those who spoke were Slagle’s colleague, Gale Grahn (below) and his daughters Nikki and Courtney (bottom). Plymouth High School, community members and state swimming officials remembered athletic director and swim coach Mike Slagle during a Celebration of Life held July 19 in the school gymnasium.

Hundreds of colleagues, students, alumni, parents, sportsmen and others joined his family to remember Coach Slagle, who passed away July 13 after suffering a heart attack two days earlier.

“Sluggo” would probably wonder at all the fuss, but it is important to share his story, fellow teacher Gale Grahn told those gathered.

Slagle left his mark on nearly every athletic facility in the city, Grahn noted. He was instrumental in building the Northside and Rotary ball parks and pavilions. He also had a knack for getting others to pitch in, even talking Grahn and

Jim Sedlacek into mortgaging their houses to pay for a new concession stand at the high school.

“Whatever Mike did, it was for the kids, for the community,” Grahn said before reading an adaption of the school song written especially for Slagle.

Slagle also was a talented craftsman, lending his creativity and skills to anyone in need. Those who spoke at the celebration did so from a podium he built, and mourners put memorials into boxes he created for Suchon Funeral Home.

Among those speaking from the podium were Michael Schuelke of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association and Tom Shafranski, who coordinates swimming and diving for the WIAA.

Schuelke said that Slagle was a giant in high school swimming in Wisconsin. Plymouth hosted many WIAA sectionals because it was so reliable.

Slagle was the best kind of leader - the kind who rolls up his sleeves and gets things done and doesn’t worry about getting credit, he said.

Shafranski said that Slagle developed a model athletic and academic program. handed out medals at the State Swimming He also and Diving Championships each year. And, as a member of the National Federation of High Schools Rules Committee, he was instrumental in bringing several changes in the sport.

Slagle found his passion for swimming early and carried his love of the sport throughout his life. He swam at Cedarburg High School where he graduated in 1973, and at UW-Stevens Point where he graduated in 1978. He and his wife, Barb, have two daughters, Courtney and Nikki, who both swam for UW-Stevens Point.

Slagle was hired by the Plymouth School District in 1979 as a science teacher and coach of both the boys and girls high school swim teams. In 1997, he became athletic director, a position he continued to hold after his retirement from the classroom in 2013.

As swim coach, he led teams to 26 conference championships and coached five All-American swimmers and one state champion. He received the 2013 National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Outstanding Services Award and was 2014 Wisconsin State District 4 Athletic Director of the Year.

He also received the UW-Stevens Point Alumni Outstanding Coaching Award and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association and Service Award, and was selected three times as the WISCA Swim Coach of the Year.

A scholarship fund is being established in his name to benefit a PHS student who shares his love of swimming and academic excellence.

A lifelong sportsman who loved both hunting and fishing, Slagle was also active in the community. He was a dedicated Ducks Unlimited Charter committee member for the Plymouth chapter, committing over 30 years of service.

Chip Beckford of Ducks Unlimited said Slagle served as that organization’s coach as well, mentoring young members and guiding everyone with a sense of what is right. “And I was always amazed at how alert he was at 4 a.m.,” he added.

Being up early was part of his routine, his daughters told those gathered. They noted that it was appropriate to have the service at Plymouth High School, since he was so devoted to it. They said they were proud to see so many in attendance, who obviously had been touched by their dad.

They also shared a hand-written note they’d found in which Coach Slagle had revised points he wanted to make to the 1998 swim team, indicating that the No. 1 goal was to have fun. They then asked present and former members of the swim team to stand and sing a team song called “We love you, Slagle.”


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