Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

A lifelong passion
2011 LGRN Coach of the Year

by Mike Ramczyk

January 05, 2012

BURLINGTON — Gymnastics is the love of Diane Biedrzycki’s life.

The Burlington/Badger/Wilmot head coach started tumbling and tap dancing as a young child in Burlington and eventually became a gymnastics student at Lakes Area Gymnastics in Burlington.

She took such a liking to gymnasticsDiane coached classes at Lakes Area during high school and decided to buy the gym two years after graduating from Burlington High School. A talented competitor, Diane made it to state in the vault during her senior year at Burlington. One year out of high school, she was named head coach of Burlington gymnastics and led the team from 1983-86. But after the ‘86 season, Biedrzycki stopped coaching.

Fast forward to 2004. She still owned Lakes Area, but decided it was time to return to coaching gymnastics at Burlington. And area gymnastics haven’t been the same since. Biedrzycki’s bunch has been state runners-up in 2007 and 2011, finished third in 2010, and has won the Southern Lakes Conference the last two seasons.

And 2011 may have been the culmination of her career thus far. The Demons barely missed a state title back in March, and so far this winter, they are undefeated with a 5-0 mark including two victories over defending state champion Franklin.

Thanks to a standout 2011 based on unparalleled excellence and hard work, Biedrzycki is the 2011 Lake Geneva Regional News Coach of the Year.

“I thought I was only going to do it for four years when I came back in ‘04, but eight years later, here I am,” Biedrzycki said Sunday. “I know these girls so well. I’ve coached them since they were little. I know their families. Also in gymnastics, we can coach them every day in the offseason.”

While the majority of the girls over the years have been Burlington students, Badger has had its share of stars recently. Earlier in 2011, Badger senior Krystal Cooke qualified for state in the all-around. Also, Badger senior Kerry Leonard and underclassmen Robyn Scheuerman and Ciara Johnson have played key roles this season.

“The Badger girls contribute a huge part to the team,” Biedrzycki said. “Cooke was big for us in 2011, and Johnson is close to lettering this year as a sophomore.”

The team’s chemistry was solid in 2011. Although girls come from different communities and have to mesh together, many have competed together for years.

“I coach four high school classes per week in the summer,” Biedrzycki said. “And it’s for all area high schools. It’s neat because they form friendships.”

Biedrzycki said she loves coaching high school-aged girls. Gymnastics has been a part of her for a long time, and she loves what the sport has to offer.

“Gymnastics is in my blood forever,” she said. “I love the mix of beauty and toughness. There is so much strength and flexibility. It’s a total body sport, and it’s so good for the body in general. It can help with other sports, too. High school gymnastics is a great place for competitive gymnastics. It’s not as demanding as club gymnastics.”

In gymnastics in particular, injuries are a part of the game. Violent dismounts and landings cause a great impact on athletes’ ankles and legs in general, and BBW has been bit by the injury bug all season. So far this season, several top performers have missed significant time with ankle problems.

“Keeping everyone healthy is my biggest challenge,” Biedrzycki said. “I concentrate on keeping them mentally focused and prepared. We don’t like to beat the kids up in practice. Our meets are simply a result of what we do in practice.”

And those meets were stellar in late 2011. BBW has scored 141 or more points all season long, with a pinnacle of 144.2, the highest score by any team in state so far. Two freshmen, Molly Benavides and Bailey Fitzpatrick, have posted all-around scores in the 37-point range. While Biedrzycki said teams shoot for a score of 140 by January, the Demons have already topped that figure five times this season. She said a score of 143 or 144 can win state, but these girls are aiming even higher.

“The state record is 148,” Biedrzycki said. “That’s our goal. I think we can hit 148. We have two or three girls who can score in the mid-9s in each event. Our attitude and spirit is where it needs to do something special this year. It would be neat for our three seniors to go out with a bang.”