News Update from Skylar Liebzeit ’15
GREEN BAY – It’s Skylar Liebzeit’s turn now.
Green Bay West announced Tuesday that it has hired Liebzeit as its new football coach. He replaces John Saharsky, who stepped down in December after two seasons.
Liebzeit, 27, has spent the past two years as an offensive assistant and wide receivers coach at Lawrence University, an NCAA Division III school in Appleton.
He also had stints as the athletic director and football coach at Manawa and roles as an assistant coach at Kettle Moraine and Reedsburg.
Liebzeit was a three-sport athlete in football, wrestling and baseball at Wisconsin Dells and played football at Ripon College from 2011 to 2014.
He converted from quarterback to running back his senior season at Ripon, rushing for 219 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 4.2 yards per carry.
Football has been a big part of his life. He now hopes to have an impact with the Wildcats.
“Wherever I’ve been, it’s kind of an uphill battle to start,” Liebzeit said. “Even when I went to Kettle Moraine to coach with Coach Justin Gumm down there, they hadn’t been to the playoffs for a while and we were able to get them into the playoffs for the first time (in nine years).
“Same thing with Manawa. We were able to really turn things around. Anybody can go take over a good program and, hopefully, keep it afloat. The hardest thing is to really climb that uphill battle and create your own identity.”
Many have attempted to turn West around on the field since it last made the playoffs in 1996, but success has been difficult to achieve.
The Wildcats went 0-9 during the regular season in 2019 for the fourth straight year – they did beat Menominee Indian in a 10th game that was allowed to be scheduled after not qualifying for the playoffs – and have not won more than a single game in a season since 2003.
On average, the past eight coaches at West have lasted 2.9 seasons.
Since Mike Williquette stepped down after a decade in 1996, the longest-tenured coach has been Jeff Behrendt. The West grad led the team for five seasons from 2011 to 2015 and was an assistant for four years.
Liebzeit said he watched a lot of film on West before he heavily pursued the opening. He likes a lot of things he saw and feels he has some good athletes returning, although he also plans to tweak a few areas.
Among those who could be back next season are junior quarterback Jack Hemery and junior running back-wide receiver Kasun Robinson.
Liebzeit was asked if it’s intimidating to take a job where so many coaches have left after a relatively short period of time.
“Intimidation, I don’t know if that’s the right word to use,” said Liebzeit, whose team will move back to the Fox River Classic Conference after spending the previous five seasons in the Bay. “I’m definitely a coach who likes a challenge. I don’t like the easy road that has been paved. Some people might call in unorthodox in a way.
“The thing is, you have to relate with the guys and break down any barriers of trust and create those new trusts and relationships. To let them know that, beyond football, I am here for them and making sure whether it be school-related or home life-related, they can always come to me along the way.”
Liebzeit wants to create a family aspect like he’s had at previous stops.
“Our motto will be brick by brick,” he said. “If you pull one brick out of that foundation, that thing is going to crumble. We have got to create a strong foundation right when I get there, and that’s going to be the staff, the returning players, that middle school program and getting down to that youth program.”
Outside of football, Liebzeit will continue in his role as a real estate agent at Keller Williams Fox Cities in Appleton. He also has a growing family with his wife, Trisha, and the couple’s 4-month-old son, Knox.
He will make the commute from Appleton to Green Bay each day, although he’s traveled further distances at some of his previous football stops. He said he’s blessed to have a supportive wife who has done a lot for him and his son.
“Skylar’s passion for football and his desire to make a difference in the lives of the players that he coaches was clearly evident from the beginning of our conversations,” West athletic director Sue Kuester said in a statement released by the school. “He has demonstrated that he has the knowledge and dedication to successfully lead our football program.”