Matt Behrendt doesn’t lack for confidence; few starting quarterbacks do. However, the now former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater signal caller is realistic about having his name called during the three-day NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, April 30.
“Getting drafted would be nuts, I mean that’s everyone’s dream right there,” Behrendt said. “But that is most likely not going to happen.”
The odds always are against NCAA Division III athletes to make the jump to pro football, but nobody should count Behrendt out yet either.
His young clients may not want to listen, but Ron Slavin is a straight shooter. And that’s a welcome trait as an agent in the often-cutthroat business of professional sports.
Slavin represents about 20 National Football League players with BTI Sports Advisors, which is headquartered in Chicago but has Green Bay and Madison offices.
“Having 22- and 23-year-old men understand they don’t have all the answers, that football could end today or tomorrow, so be smart with your money and be smart with your choices of friends and girlfriends,” said Slavin, 40, about the toughest part of his job.
ELKHORN -- VIP Services and its hundreds of Walworth County clients are the beneficiaries. However, the organization’s employees and volunteers will share that windfall with the wider community.
They will do so during the Green Bay Packers’ Tailgate Tour, which is making Elkhorn its fourth of five stops for its 10th anniversary event.
VIP hosts current and former members of the Green and Gold at a special dinner on Friday, April 17, and then activities move to Elkhorn Area Middle School from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee principal owner Mark Attanasio and General Manager Doug Melvin conducted a thorough evaluation last October after painfully watching the team lose 22 of its final 31 contests, falling from a first-place lead of 1.5 games to eight games behind St. Louis after leading the National League Central for nearly 160 days.
Losing 11 of their final 13 games before the All-Star break, including a four-game home sweep by Philadelphia, didn’t help the Brewers either and eliminated any cushion to absorb their late-season swoon. It was a gut-wrenching end after being the talk of baseball with a 20-7 start.
Milwaukee brass, to the surprise of those who expected a bigger overhaul, retained manager Ron Roenicke and remained relatively quiet during the offseason.
Adam Gregory ended the 2014 season on a nine-game hitting streak, including four hits in his first two NCAA Division III postseason contests, to help the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater win its second national baseball title.
The Edgerton High School graduate said last year’s magical finish is why he chose UW-W in the first place.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Talyn Lewis is a fan of the television show “Law and Order: SVU” and wants to study criminal psychology in college.
“Softball is a huge mental game,” the Burlington High School junior standout said. ”You have to learn to accept most of the time you are going to fail. You’re not going to get on base every at bat, you’re not going to make every play; mistakes happen.
“With how competitive I am, I forget at times that you can’t always go 3 for 3 in a game. I think I have come a long way with my mental toughness and not getting so down on myself, but it is still something I can improve on.”
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Experience can’t be overrated, and a young Parkview High School softball team is counting on two juniors to carry it early and navigate a tough Rock Valley Conference schedule.
Ally Steinke was named the RVC South’s Coach of the Year last spring, leading the Vikings to a 10-6 record and second-place finish behind Beloit Turner in her fourth year in charge after two seasons as an assistant.
This year will be a challenge, so Steinke will rely on Madi Melms and Kortni Grenawalt, who made the league’s first team as an infielder and utility player, respectively.
STATELINE NEWS -- One doesn’t enter the Hall of Fame without knowing how to judge talent. And Beloit Turner coach Bob Sulser earned his plaque from the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association in February because he knows that great players are a big reason for his success.
The Trojans, who finished 22-5 last spring, have won three consecutive Rock Valley South titles behind the likes of pitcher Kelsie Packard, who has gained WFSCA All-State recognition all three seasons and returns for her final prep campaign.
Another topnotch performer and fellow senior is Tessa Mikkelson, who takes an occasional turn on the mound. However, her forte is getting on base as a leadoff hitter and picking it on defense at shortstop.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- They got a taste two years ago. East Troy would like to savor the entire meal this time.
The Trojans are making their third trip, joining the 1989 and 2013 squads, in this, the 100th WIAA boys basketball state tournament.
East Troy, which enters with an 18-7 record, tangles with Xavier (23-3) at about 10:45 a.m. Friday, March 20, in the second Division 3 semifinal game at the Kohl Center in Madison. The Hawks are making their second appearance, losing their lone game in 2009.
The winner faces Prescott (25-1) or defending champion Brown Deer (23-4) in the title contest at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21.
Trojans’ coach Darryl Rayfield said that this never gets old, and he knows his team will be better prepared after gaining valuable experience in 2013.
“We’re thrilled to be back,” Rayfield said during a media conference call. “We’re fortunate to have three kids who played in that game a couple years back. Connor Mitchell (14.3 points per game), a senior, leads us in scoring and had 39 in the sectional semifinal. He is our second-leading rebounder and was on that team as a starter. So was senior Will Iloncaie (11.8), our point guard, and senior Matt Kaminski (8.9), who is back and has been coming off the bench … he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four or five weeks ago and getting back into the swing of things.”
Juniors Jake Remsza (7.8) and Justin Growel (6.9), the team’s leading rebounder at 5.4 per outing, also play significant minutes. East Troy also features junior Joey Ciriacks, its top three-point artist who averages 11.3 ppg.
Iloncaie made the all-Rock Valley North squad, Mitchell the second team and Kaminski and Ciriacks the honorable mention list.
“These guys have all been around, last year getting beat by Brown Deer in the sectional semifinal in a one- or two-possession game, so these guys have been a big part of East Troy basketball,” Rayfield said. “And I feel like our strength of schedule, playing teams such as Marquette, Stoughton, Racine Case and Oconomowoc, has gotten us ready to play a team the caliber of Xavier. We’re looking forward to that.”
Eastern Valley Conference winner Xavier also features a balanced attack: junior Sam Burkart leads the way at 14.7, followed by senior Matt Kinderman (13.0), junior Zach Simons (10.8), senior Tom Johnson (8.3) and freshman Hunter Plamann (7.2).
East Troy knocked off its first three postseason foes by 15, 19 and 19 points before defeating River Valley, 42-34, at Middleton for the sectional title as Mitchell and Iloncaie combined for 31 points.
East Troy’s regular season featured losses to larger schools Case, Marquette and Stoughton by double digits and a nine-point decision to Oconomowoc along with a sweep to RVC North winner McFarland and a two-point setback at Evansville.
“I think earlier in the year, because of the way we schedule … you can’t hide from solid teams,” Rayfield said. “Our chemistry, learning how to defend as a group, sharing the basketball and believing in some of the things we were doing (got better), because we weren’t blessed with great size but are very athletic.”
“In the second game against McFarland we kinda let that slip away a little bit and finished a game out of our conference championship and felt like we were just as good or better than any of them,” he added. “So we’ve been playing pretty well. They started trusting each other a little bit more and that was a big key.”
And his two guards, Mitchell and Iloncaie, make the machine run.
“Will ended up with 146 assists and is really athletic … and he probably had 16 or 18 dunks on year,” Rayfield said. “Those two have been playing together since third or fourth grade. They know each other very well. They’re both two-sport athletes. They trust each other. They run and jump well. Those two put us on their backs in the second half of the year, and along with Matt Kaminski, are our captains.”
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Several area skiers have performed on a national stage this past week in Winter Park, Colorado, where they competed in the U14 Junior Championships.
Six members of the SWATeam Racing program -- Southeastern Wisconsin Alpine Team -- practiced Monday and Tuesday and participated in super G, giant slalom and combination events Wednesday through Friday after qualifying in Marquette, Michigan, in late February.
Walworth County area competitors were Blake Wisdom and Hans Melges of Lake Geneva, Kyle Navin and Harry Melges of Fontana and Alyssa Cunningham and Gavin Kudick of Waukesha.