Slagle’s impact went far beyond the pool

THE POSITIVE IMPACT MIKE SLAGLE had on Plymouth High School athletics and the Plymouth community is immeasurable. He touched so many lives in such a positive way.

Mike, the longtime girls swimming coach and athletic director at PHS, passed away July 13 at age 60. His life was celebrated and many fond memories of him were shared during a special event Sunday in the PHS gym. Mike’s outstanding dedication and service to his community and to PHS athletics were recognized and very much appreciated at this event.

Mike was one of those rare individuals who would go the extra mile to help others any way he could. He played a key role in the success of PHS sports and the school’s impressive athletic facilities.

He earned many awards for his coaching and athletic director work but always remained humble. Mike liked to give credit to his teams, family, fellow athletic directors and others for the honors he received.

He loved coaching swimming. Sure, Mike was proud of all the Eastern Wisconsin Conference championships and state medal-winners during his career but what mattered the most to him while coaching was the relationships he formed with members of his teams. Each of his teams was like one big family.

Mike always wanted each of his swimmers to work hard and keep improving throughout the season. His three goals each year were working to improve as the season went on, send as many individuals to state as possible and to have fun.

Anyone who watched Mike at a swimming meet would quickly realize how much he cared about his swimmers and how much it meant to him to see them enjoy success. What a sight to behold when he would give a Panther swimmer a high-five or a hug after a strong performance, or to watch him cheer on and support a team member during a race.

The PHS coaches and athletic programs always received excellent support and assistance from Mike who took over as the A.D. in 1997. The success of Panther athletics is greatly due to the work of Mike.

“He was a great friend and a great role model for coaches and athletes,” said Jay Grosshuesch, the Panthers’ longtime head track and cross country coach.

“He taught us how to coach and run athletic programs. He was very unselfish and humble. He was willing to do anything for anyone. He did whatever he could to help them [athletes] have success.

“He treated all of the programs equally important, not just the major sports like football or basketball. He impacted a lot of people and it was all positive,” said Grosshuesch.

“When you needed him, he was there,” said Scott Richards, a good friend of Mike’s and former Panther head boys basketball and baseball coach.

“He was one of those unique individuals that would help everyone and that’s why we’re going to miss him.

“As a coach, I never had to worry about game-time organization [such as securing the referees and helpers at the games] because Mike was so organized,” said Richards.

“I asked him one time why he worked out at 4:30 every morning and he said, ‘Because people are counting on me.’”

I had the pleasure of a 27-year professional relationship with Mike but I always considered him a friend as well. He would bend over backwards to get the information I needed for The Review sports section, whether it was swim meet results and his comments, schedules or any pertinent news about Panther athletics.

I appreciated everything he did for me and The Review. I could always count on Mike as many people did for so many years. What you did for the community and Plymouth High will always be cherished and appreciated, and you as a person will always be in our hearts. — Greg Ceilley, Sports Editor, The Review

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