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Alvin Mancheski – Former Badgers’ assistant football coach – has died

Doctor Alvin “Al” Mancheski
1921 – 2017

Alvin “Doctor Al” Mancheski, the football coach who built winning programs at Sturgeon Bay High School in the 1950s, then at Green Bay East in the 1960s, passed away peacefully in his sleep Tuesday night in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Dr. Mancheski (a former optometrist, high school teacher, wrestling, baseball and football coach), was 95 years old. He had been in failing health for the past six months.

Born in nearby Denmark Wisconsin on February 23, 1921, the Mancheski family moved to Green Bay when Al was ten. Al became an outstanding athlete at East High in the late 1930s and 1940, where he was all-conference running back his junior and senior years. He played under legendary East High and former Packers’ top assistant coach, Tom Hearden, whom he viewed as a substitute father figure. Besides playing football, Al was also a champion pole vaulter and placed second at the 1940 Wisconsin state track meet. Al went on to the University of Wisconsin, where his football coach was the former quarterback of Notre Dame’s fabled Four Horsemen, Harry Stuhldreher. When World War II broke out, Al joined the Army Air Corps, and spent most of the time in the Pacific Theater as a medic and physician’s surgical assistant.

Back from the war in 1946, Al was named the most valuable player on the Badgers’ JV squad. He joined Coach Stuhldreher’s Wisconsin football staff in 1947. Al’s coaching lineage was notable now, with two Hall of Fame coaches (Hearden and Stuhldreher) having served as his mentors. It was time for Coach Al to head a program of his own.

In a coaching career that spanned the following 25 seasons, Al Mancheski won multiple accolades as a great motivator. He was considered an innovator in his time, and among the first to implement weight training for high school players. He also taught his players “vision/quickness” training, and supplied them with contact lenses in lieu of glasses while playing. His teams at Sturgeon Bay won championships in 1948 – 50, and 1958 – 59, at one point going 20 – 1.

Al took over the reins at Green Bay East in 1960 – 68, where his undefeated team won the Fox River Valley Conference championship in 1965. The Red Devils earned the state’s highest rankings in both the AP and UPI polls. That same year, Coach Al was named the Wisconsin Football Coach of the Year. He also won the Fox Cities Sports Award. His COTY award was presented by Ohio State coach and college football legend, Woody Hayes.

After leaving East High to devote time to his optometric practice, Al remained an assistant coach at Premontre High School for the next five years. He afterwards served as a long-time member of the WISAA Football Championship Selection Committee. Some years later, Al was admitted as a charter member of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

A lifelong Packers and Badgers fan, Al often told stories of practicing on the East High field while Curly Lambeau’s Packers warmed up outside the Old City Stadium fence. The fact that Al’s long-time mentor and friend, Tom Hearden, played and coached with Curly Lambeau, allowed Al into the Packers’ inner circle. When Hearden was nearly named the team’s head coach for the 1958 season, he assured Al that he’d place him as an assistant on his new Packers coaching staff.

In his later years, having retiring from coaching as well as his optometric practice, Al turned to book authorship. He conveyed his personal story about Tom Hearden’s life to his son, Janson, and together they co-authored the novel Shoot For the Stars – The Tom Hearden Story. It tells the remarkable tale of one man’s life in football, much the way Al’s own story reads.

Coach Al leaves behind a legion of former players who loved him as a friend and motivator, as well as many friends in the football fraternity across the state of Wisconsin.

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