Legendary L-C basketball coach Schanhofer dies
It’s funny to think about now, but when Mike Schanhofer was hired as the Luxemburg-Casco High School girls basketball coach in 1979, he wasn’t sure he was up for the job. He felt apprehensive about his new position and uncertain of whether he wanted any part of it.
He ended up becoming a legendary coach over the next 26 seasons, going 492-106 and leading the Spartans to three WIAA Division 2 state championships and a runner-up finish.
Schanhofer died July 4 after a battle with multiple myeloma. He was 76.
His impact on the court was immeasurable, but he also played an important role in the life of L-C students with his work in the classroom as an English and history teacher. He was hired at the school in 1963 and was there for more than four decades.
“He was as good a teacher as he was a coach,” L-C girls basketball coach Jeff Jodar said. “I learned from him as a basketball coach, but I also learned from him as a teacher. I credit him for the successes that I have had in teaching. Part of that comes from him and just knowing him. He was good in that area as well.
“He always told me, ‘I am a teacher first, and a coach second.’”
Schanhofer was most known for his work with the basketball team, but he also was the volleyball coach at the school for 10 years, an assistant football coach for seven and an assistant baseball coach for 32.
He was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002 and finished his career with 524 wins after also spending three seasons at Sturgeon Bay.
The Spartans not only won those three state titles under Schanhofer in 1988, 1994 and 2004, but also captured 13 Packerland Conference titles, five sectional championships and nine regional championships.
“The first state championship in 1988 was special,” Schanhofer said after stepping down at L-C in September 2005. “That one, that was an unforgettable moment for us, because it was the first for L-C. There is something special about that first one.”
Many who played for him would say Schanhofer was a tough coach, but he also was loved by all his pupils.
“He was a coach who you wanted to play hard for, because you had so much respect for him,” said former L-C star Rachel Porath, who was the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,681 points when she graduated in 2004. “You didn’t want to play bad. You always wanted to go out there and play your best and not let him down. He gave you the confidence that you know you could do it, and he pushed you to the max. He knew you could be the best player you could possibly be.”
Porath was a shining example of that.
She was a four-year starter for Schanhofer, a three-time team MVP and a huge piece on the 2004 state title team. After she committed to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Schanhofer called her the best all-around player he had coached.
Porath believes without him, she wouldn’t have gotten a scholarship.
“He pushed me more than what I probably ever thought I could go,” she said. “He believed in me that I could go to the next level, and I didn’t think I could. But he always gave me that confidence that I could.”
Porath scored 1,251 points at UWGB from 2006-2009 and is No. 15 on the program’s all-time scoring list.
Schanhofer never lost the love to coach or help. He even came back this past season at times to help Jodar and his team. He wasn’t there by the end as his health deteriorated, but one of his last games on the bench came in a 77-71 win at Freedom on Feb. 7, which helped the Spartans finish tied for second with the Irish in the North Eastern Conference.
“It makes it even more special that he was there and he got to see that and be part of that,” said Jodar, who started coaching under Schanhofer in 1999.
Schanhofer’s body wasn’t in good shape, but his mind was as sharp as ever. Jodar knew he’d be a big help and that his players would love him, and they did.
It was an opportunity to bring back the man who put the Spartans on the map and helped elevate girls basketball in northeastern Wisconsin.
“He’s a part of it even now, even after he’s gone,” Jodar said. “He is still going to be part of L-C basketball. … he meant everything to the girls and the program. I will never work with a guy as knowledgeable or as effective as he was.”
This article originally appeared on Wisconsin: Legendary L-C basketball coach Schanhofer dies