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Brookfield Academy's head of school enjoys second role

Feb. 20, 2012

Robert Solsrud enjoys the position of Brookfield Academy's head of school. But unless you're a parent of a girls seventh-grade basketball player, there is a side of Solsrud that people don't get to experience.

Solsrud, whose position of head of school compares to a public school district's superintendent, has been a fixture at Brookfield Academy for 41 years. He has had tenures as head of each of the three divisions, as Upper School biology and chemistry teacher.

His involvement in sports isn't a shock for people who know him since he has also served as BA's athletic director, as a head football coach and as boys and girls varsity basketball coach for 10 years. He has also stepped in and coached baseball, golf and track whenever there was a need.

"I obviously loved sports. It has done a lot of good for young people," said Solsrud, 68. "It's kind of fun. It gets me out of the office and with the kids. It keeps my adrenaline going. I get to know most of them as 4-year olds and over the years they have heard me speak at assemblies, so they are familiar with me."

Solsrud has coached the middle school girls the past 12 years, as he usually stays with his team for the seventh- and eighth-grade seasons. He had coached his two daughters, Kristin and Becky, who went on to play college basketball.

Solsrud explained why he enjoyed coaching girls over the years.

"They have great interest to learn the game," he said. "They grow from the experience more. They are like sponges; they absorb everything you tell them.

"I'm competitive, but at this level it is important that they learn and enjoy the game as individuals."

When his players go on to the varsity level and do well, it also puts a smile on Solsrud's face.

"When I see their success, I hope my coaching in some small way has contributed to it," Solsrud said, "individually as well as in basketball."

When asked what he enjoys the most about coaching, Solsrud was ready with his answer.

"I appreciate the value of coaching and know the difference a coach can make in the life of an athlete," he said. "Getting to know the student-athletes, their energy and enthusiasm keeps me young."

THE SOLSRUD FILE

WIFE: Karen, retired BA Lower School art teacher

CHILDREN: Kristin (BA class of 1991) is a pediatrician in Phoenix; Becky ('93) teaches elementary school in the Greenfield School District

EDUCATION: Master's and doctorate degrees in educational policy and leadership from Marquette University

HONORS: Received the Educational Policy and Leadership Achievement Award from the Marquette University College of Education and the Marquette University Alumni Association in April 2011.

LEADERSHIP: Visionary leader, committed to staying true to Brookfield Academy's mission by recruiting, hiring, and mentoring faculty, implementing school policies and coordinating all administrative functions. He embraces the privilege of guiding Brookfield Academy to higher levels of excellence, protecting and promoting the school's reputation as a premier Midwest college preparatory independent school.

MEMBERSHIP: A board member of The Independent School Management Consortium. Has presented at an Independent Schools of Central States Conference. Solsrud's doctoral dissertation studied the use of mission statements to recruit, hire and mentor independent school teachers. He serves on the Board of Directors of The Wisconsin Forum and on the Education Board Committee at The Prairie School in Racine.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: He volunteers in the food pantry at Elmbrook Church and as a nursing home visitor.

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