Football survey reveals player's opinions of former head coach and program Submitted: 12/13/2018

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RHINELANDER - Two days before the administration and activities director fired coach Chris Ferge the school sent a survey to the varsity players.

We put in an open records request to see the results.

33 of 42 players took the survey, their names being kept anonymous.

Twenty of them answered questions like, "what's the worst part of the program, " with negative comments like:

"Coaches not being supportive and calling them worthless."
"The bullying, the unfairness, and being mistreated."
"The coaches suck and I hated every day."

When asked what could make the program better, 18 of 33, specifically said things about Ferge and his staff such as:

"Fire the head coach…fire every single coach and change the entire program…get someone who can lead the team and actually get players wanting to play."

But six players reacted positively, showing support for the program.

"The players and coaches were like family to me," one player said.

After our initial coverage, Newswatch12 received a copy of an email that was sent by parents who were in favor of firing the coach.

That email went out the night before the players took the survey.

It asked parents to tell their sons to stress the negative atmosphere and disrespect for the football program.

However, it also encouraged kids to set aside their personal feelings about the coaches.

Not all parents were in favor of finding a new coach.

A number of parents called Newswatch12 and said they asked the administration to hold a second meeting with more parents in the football program.

According to those parents that meeting never happened.

In a follow up interview with Rhinelander Superintendent Kelli Jacobi, she said the administration felt they needed to make a move immediately.

Some parents argued that Former Rhinelander head football coach Jim Moore was given a personal improvement plan the season before he was let go.

However, Coach Ferge did not receive a formal improvement plan.

The administration said it talked about issues with Ferge over the years but nothing was ever put in writing.

In the Rhinelander Activities Handbook, it states that any issues with district personnel should be addressed with the coach first, followed by his or her supervisor and lastly the superintendent if the matters cannot be resolved.

Jacobi said she asked the parents who wanted Ferge gone if they had confronted him or Brian Paulson before coming to her.

Jacobi was told they had, but she had no documentation to prove that. 

Story By: Mazie Vincent

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Local Sports Report: 12/11/18Submitted: 12/11/2018

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CRANDON - Crandon girls basketball stifled Rhinelander, winning 61-40 and extending their winning streak to five games.

Northland Pines boys basketball used hot 3-point shooting to knock off Chequamegon, 68-36.

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TOMAHAWK - With his head up and hands active, Wyatt Wenninger gets ready to pin his opponent, just like he's done for more than a decade.

"I think my dad just signed me up one day, brought me up here and we started learning," Wenninger said.
Bob Garrou, Wenninger's coach, watched his development firsthand.

"Wyatt's an extremely good athlete, he's good at everything he does," Garrou said. "He just always struggled with confidence and I believe he's finally got control of his confidence. I think great things are in his future."

Wenninger made the state tournament last year in the 152-pound division, but is wrestling a class up in the 160-pound division this season.

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Friday Night Blitz 12.7.18Submitted: 12/07/2018

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Tomahawk 56 Antigo 77
Rhinelander 59 Lakeland 74
Wausau East 63 Medford 49
Northland Pines 73 Mosinee 78
White Lake 22 Phelps 85

Crandon 67 Three Lakes 41
Rhinelander 59 Lakeland 45

The Hodags broke the Lady Thunderbirds 29 game GNC winning streak.

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RHINELANDER - The Heisman Trophy is the award that makes a player an instant legend; sought after by gridiron giants from Oregon to Florida.

"The Heisman Trophy is still America's greatest individual award," College Football Hall of Fame curator Kent Stephens said.

And while the country celebrates legendary football coach John Heisman in New York every year, what's left of the man himself stays buried in Rhinelander, where he's been for more than 80 years.

"If we're mowing or weed-whacking in here, someone's bound to stop us and ask where the grave is," said Forest Home Cemetery sexton Jeremy Biolo.

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Thursday Night Sports Report Submitted: 12/06/2018

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Local Sports Report: 12/4/18Submitted: 12/04/2018

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EAGLE RIVER - Marshfield boys basketball defeated Rhinelander at home, 72-39, behind 24 points from Brant Bohman.

Northland Pines hockey beat Tomahawk, 15-1. 

Three Lakes girls basketball topped Tomahawk, 52-41, at home.

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GNC gymnastics back on the matsSubmitted: 12/01/2018

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MEDFORD - Many Northwoods athletes started their weekend tumbling, flipping and balancing.

Five teams competed in Medford's first ever Hot Cocoa Invitational Saturday.

Rhinelander, Mosinee, Medford, Chequamegon and Escanaba hit the mats.

The Raiders took the gold with 119 points, even without their top two gymnasts.

Medford's Brooklyn Bilz and Makala Ulrich took first and second in the all-around.

Head coach Steve Cain says he's proud of the individual performances but hopes the girls have the bigger picture in mind.

"I want them to see team spirit. I want them to have team comradery," Cain said. "It's an individual sport but if you do not have individuals come together as a team, it's hard for each of them to really excel. That's my goal for them, is to do their best as a team."

Rhinelander placed second with 114 points.

Senior Raven Sturtevant led the way placing third in the all-around.

She says the Hodags are working towards an even better postseason-run than last year.

"We are already starting about how we ended last year so we are just building on things," Sturtevant said. "I think we are going to be in a good running for conference and even see if more of us can make it to state this year."

Rhinelander hosts its invitational next Saturday.All but two of the GNC teams will compete.

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Friday Night Blitz: 11/30/18Submitted: 11/30/2018

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Elcho: 38 Goodman/Pembine: 36
Florence: 62 Phelps: 64
Suring: 62 Laona/Wabeno: 52
Crandon: 95 White Lake: 27
Medford: 65 DC Everest: 82
Abbotsford: 38 Assumption: 44
Athens: 42 Auburndale: 67
La Crosse Central: 82 Marshfield: 68
Merrill: 76 Antigo: 66
Prentice: 85 Newman Catholic: 69
Rib Lake: 48 Stratford: 53

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RHINELANDER - High school football players look to their head coach for leadership, strategy, and guidance on and off the field.

Rhinelander Hodags will need to look to someone new for that next year.

After five seasons with the Hodags, head coach Chris Ferge was let go yesterday.

Ferge's record with Rhinelander isn't the prettiest.

He went 9-35 and was only 2-28 in conference play.

According to Rhinelander Activities Director Brian Paulson the decision to let him go didn't just come down to wins and losses.

"Chris is a great guy. He put all of his heart, soul and energy into the program," Paulson said.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander football team will be under new leadership next season. 

Rhinelander Activities Director Brian Paulson told us that current head football coach Chris Ferge was let go Wednesday morning.  

According to RiverNewsSports, Paulson said it didn't come down to wins and losses but the school wasn't happy with where the program was headed. 

Ferge was hired in 2014 and only went 9-35 in five seasons and was only 2-28 in Great Northern Conference play.

We will have more information in the next few days. 

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