First-year Franklin boys basketball coach Tyler Podoll is thinking in the long term.
Along with leading the rebuilding Sabers to a more competitive than it looked 7-16 record this winter, he made the rounds to the youth programs over and over again, emphasizing what he would like to be taught to the sixth, seventh and eight graders so they are ready to hit the ground running by the time they reach high school.
A big advocate of the swing offense, he wants it taught in age appropriate degrees with an emphasis on mastering a certain set of skills at one grade level so additional skills can be taught the following year.
For Podoll and his staff, that meant putting in a little additional time over the course of the season.
'We did a lot of Sunday sessions with the eighth graders at the high school,' he said. 'We'd watch, witness and help out when needed, In doing so we took a page out of the DePere, Neenah and Bay Port playbooks, emphasizing consistency and continuity.
'We have expectations of the kids being able to run it at a certain level (each year) and by the time these seventh graders are seniors, it (the offense) should be a beautiful thing to watch.'
Some of those tenets have already taken root as according to Podoll, Franklin's sixth, seventh and eighth grade teams were all very competitive in the Badgerland Games statewide tournaments.
So it's clear that Podoll is taking the long view of things. He looks to the Germantown model, a strong football school with weak basketball roots 15 years ago being turned into a modern empire with three state titles and another berth in the finals being claimed in recent years.
He knew what former coach Steve Showalter accomplished over there didn't happen overnight and he knows whatever fix he has in mind for Franklin, it will not happen overnight either.
'We came in with expectations of building a culture, and creating a program from fourth grade through 12th,' he said. 'We also wanted it to be a great experience for the seniors and we wanted to create a long-term foundation of physical and mental toughness.'
They also worked on school pride in the team and that really started to come about as even in the season finale of a WIAA regional road loss to Milwaukee Vincent, he said the Franklin supporters outnumbered the Vikings' backers.
'That's something we can just grow and grow,' he said.
Improvement is coming. The junior varsity was 13-9 on the season and the freshmen an impressive 16-6. Podoll likes the coaches he has on the freshmen and junior varsity levels and trusts them to implement his plans for success.
'The long term plan is to see if we can do better than last year (each season),' he said.
Sophomore Max Alba started the process for Podoll's theory by earning third-team All-Southeast Conference honors while seniors Sam Ruetz and Max Fassbender were honorable mention.
Team awards included senior Brett Wronka earning the sportsmanship award for voluntary giving up his starting position to Fassbender for the betterment of the team. The most improved award went to Fassbender, the Athletic Director's choice award went to Ruetz and the MVP award was claimed by senior Tyler Klug.
Overall, the seniors included Wronka, Fassbender, Matt Teska, Nader Kiblawi, Michael Gorman, Ruetz, Nick Steele, and Klug.
The Sabers had their banquet on March 20, the day after the state tournament, and Podoll got one more piece of reinforcement for his many ideas. This particular one was about making it a positive experience for the seniors.
'Sam Ruetz's Dad came up to me afterward and told me that Sam wasn't going to come out this season but changed his mind at the last minute,' said Podoll, 'and then he told me that Sam told him that it was the best season of basketball he's had since he was a little kid.'