Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

More than football

by John Halverson

September 12, 2013

I thought Derek Diehl was all football.

I hadn’t met the man until after the Williams Bay game Friday night.

I was expecting someone intimidating.

After all, he’s the owner and right tackle for the semi-pro Lake Geneva Generals, as well as coach at Williams Bay High School.

He’s built like an offensive lineman, low to the ground like a fire hydrant — a fire hydrant that would bowl you over in an instant if you were in his way on the football field.

But I saw him in a different light after the game. He told his team to enjoy the victory, but not to do anything dumb that night.

I asked him why he took a knee to stop the clock at the end of the first half when his team had a chance for another touchdown.

The Bay was ahead, but only a few yards from another touchdown with the clock ticking down. I thought maybe since they hadn’t won a conference game in five years, that no lead was safe. I might have tried one or two more plays to get a final touchdown going into the half.

Instead, Diehl told his quarterback to “take a knee” which kept the clock running and ended the half without another play.

“Why?” I asked him.

He looked at me like the answer was obvious. And it was to him.

“We are not only teaching football,” Diehl said. “But (we’re) teaching the boys how to be good men and to be humble in victory in a game that has not done the same for us at times.”

For the last two years Diehl’s taught his team to face defeat with courage.

And his team responded, coming back every week for more.

Unfortunately, they’ve had a lot of practice with that difficult lesson.

Now, he’s teaching them a different one: Be humble in victory.

And he hopes he has a lot more chances to teach his team that lesson.

Based on what I saw Friday night, Diehl knows winning and losing in life is more than just what the scoreboard says.

Halverson is interim sports editor of the Regional News.