It's a long road back for the Brookfield East girls basketball team, and it starts with Michael Goodman.
The Spartans hired Goodman, 26, a native of Neenah and most recently coach of the successful Mondovi girls basketball team, to assume the helm of the program. East, which went 3-20 last year, is on the lookout for its first winning season since 2007-08, and it brings on a coach who already has a great deal of experience despite his youth.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Goodman spent one year on the coaching staff at Chippewa Falls and another at Chetek before his two at Mondovi, where his teams compiled a 35-13 record and proved very competitive against some of the best programs in Division 4.
Now, he heads East.
"I got to my interview early, so they walked me down to the field house," Goodman said. "I hadn't even interviewed yet, and I could imagine myself coaching there.
"There's nothing wrong with smaller at all, but I felt like Division 1 and bigger schools would be more of a challenge," he added. "I wanted to challenge myself a little bit after a couple successful years in Division 4. It's a time in my life where I can take a risk, with a clean slate and being in a place I've never lived before."
Mondovi proved it could hang with some of the best at its level over the past two seasons. Two years ago, the Buffaloes lost in the WIAA playoffs to eventual state champion Altoona. Last year, the team was ousted in a close game by Fennimore, who lost to eventual state champ Neilsville in double overtime.
"The state champ came out of our regional two years in a row," Goodman said. "We contended for a conference title two years in a row and fell just short. I really instilled my mindset of defense first, and … in the two years I was there, Mondovi played really tough and was never an easy team to play. I think I helped instill that fight attitude."
Preferring an intense, man-to-man approach, Goodman hopes the same defense can help East return to competitiveness in the always-challenging Greater Metro Conference.
"I've never been one to put a set number of wins and losses," he said. "I just have high expectations. They're struggling, and I know that, too. We're not going to be an easy team to play. Come playoff time, we're not going to be an easy out."
Goodman has already used one of his summer contact days since being hired, and he now begins the process of moving across the state.
"I wanted them to end the summer on a high note and It think the girls are going to pick it up pretty fast," Goodman said.
He becomes one of the first hires for new East athletics director Cale Vogel, who cited Goodman's record, knowledge, recommendations and communication skills.
"I have no doubt that Michael will be successful in running our girls program," Vogel said in a school release. "He has the willingness to learn and improve, which is key."
Goodman replaces Kelly Lam, who accepted a teaching position and assistant coach opening at Sussex Hamilton. Goodman will be a tutor and supervisor at Brookfield East for now, with an eye on seeking an opportunity in elementary education. He taught fifth grade at Mondovi.
The path to Brookfield East opened up quickly for Goodman.
"I applied for it and didn't think I'd hear anything, but a month later, here I am," he said. "I got called right before the Fourth of July for an interview and went down the next week. I got the call on Friday the 13th and had a weekend to think it over."
His ascension has been equally as rapid. He was playing high school basketball as recently as 2004, when he was named honorable-mention All Conference in the ultracompetitive Fox Valley Association for Neenah. He also played football and tennis during his prep days, reaching the third round of the state tournament in doubles as a senior. He played one year of football at UW-Eau Claire as the team's kicker and cornerback and also played two years of semipro football with the Eau Claire Crush.
"It all took up a lot of my time but still allowed me to graduate in four years and 4 ½ years with student teaching," Goodman said. "I assisted with football and basketball (as a student teacher at Chippewa Falls) for a couple years.
"It's not going to happen overnight, but if I instill the mindset of always working hard, playing to the whistle, then we're not just going to be an easy team to roll over. Teams should fear playing Brookfield East."
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