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RIP Coach Bill Siderewicz

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Tribute to Coach Siderwitz from a former Bomber Player.

From George M. Gilbert, Retired Football Coach

It saddens me to hear the news on the passing of Coach Siderwitz.   Rensselaer has one of the longest and most successful programs hear dating back to football beginnings in Indiana.  During the early 1960s football was struggling at Rensselaer.  My oldest brother was on the team and in comes a new coach, with a new staff.  I was 9 at the time and I would go out daily and watch football practice.  So, growing up all summer we had Bear's camp, then they left and in August HS football camp.  Coach Siderwitz had an immediate impact on Rensselaer football, school atmosphere, and community support.  I have had 3 main influences on my life as far as coaching mentors and Coach Siderwitz was my first who gave me direction.  Never wrote anything down being a young boy but seeing what he did daily carried over and impacted my approach to coaching.  Coach's home was always open for players to stop by and talk football, I would tag along with my brother, and he would show film and give direction to one boy or a group [even allowed little brother to hang out],

Right before school started, Coach asked me to come with him a moment and I was nervous, but it ended up he was cleaning out the storage area in school and gave me an old leather pair of shoulder pads, and a old set of pants and a jersey.  He also gave me a football that looked more like a basketball.  These items I cherished during my youth, and I could not wait to play for this man.  In 1965, HOF Coach Berto brought Delphi to Rensselaer to play the Bombers.  Coach Berto had a long winning streak going as both teams were undefeated, and the old Field at Brookside was rocking.  Game came down to a questionable call late in the securing of victory for Delphi, but the controversy would always be remembered and the supposed Rensselaer time out.   In 1969, I was a freshman and finally would be coached by Coach Siderwitz and his great staff.  Our class was large and talented, and Coach would select 4 or 5 freshman to the varsity squad and I was lucky enough to be one of them.  Knowing I probably would not get into the game but being on the team as a freshman was exciting.  I was lucky enough to have a varsity player [Steve Snyder – long time Twin Lakes Coach] take me in and make sure that I knew what was expected and he mentored me, what an experience that year and I even got some clean up duty on the field with the other freshmen.

Three main take a ways from Coach Siderwitz that I have instilled throughout my career...

1. Hire coaches that know the sport and buy into your philosophy.  Four members of that staff will join Coach in the HOF in football and one in wrestling!

2. Practice is the key.  Coach expected each player to play above their level, he would yell at the team or an unfocused individual and everyone would have eyes locked on him.  Then when things picked up he would make some comment or joke and everyone was laughing and focused.  Practice is the key to success building continuity and making sure team can play at a high level play in and play out.  Coach would get very aggressive for lack of focus or not working to one’s top ability and would call you out on the spot.  But…by the end of practice he would touch you in some way so you knew he was not upset with you but your performance and that tomorrow would be a better day.  Our top test in those years at practice was the pole orchard, talk to an older alumnus and they will tell you stories.  It was based on blood [if you never bled there, that was your fault, sweat [usually tired and tested to see if you can win late in contests], tears [tears of joy when you defeated someone in the orchard or sadness when you did not perform-Coach often would make you go several times if you were get ting beat stating you will not win every play but must find a way to overcome, get off ball quicker, lower, more leg…]  Everyone wanted to be a champion at the orchard and he never allowed mismatches, always best on best and so on.

3. Game Night.  Coach had a great deal of character in his leadership and right before you took the field, he gave a brief motivation talk that you could not wait to get out there and give your first hit to the opponent.  I was a freshman, probably not getting in the game and I wanted so much to feel what the starters felt under the lights at Brookside Park across from the cemetery on the west side of the city.

Coach Siderwitz has left generations of athletes where ever he coached better men and citizens due to unselfish devotion the the sport we all love.  RIP, Coach!  I remember you now as when I was a young boy and the lessons taught gave me an opportunity to represent your hard work with dignity, respect and loyalty!



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I would like to take this moment to thank George for his comments on Coach Siderwitz.  They are right on.  Coach Siderwicz helped me get my start in teaching and coaching with recommendations. Two different times he offered me positions on his staff. Had the opportunity to visit with him at clinics and his home to talk football and other topics. When I was named head football coach at Greensburg he was the first call I received congratulating me.  Losing Coach Siderwicz and Coach Hummer in the same year is very surreal.  I enjoyed both men and what I learned from them.  Both preached Perfect Practice, hire coaches who are supportive of you and the program and be loyal to your players/coaches!!!  May your family be Blessed.  RIP Coach!!!  

Edited by CoachSnyder
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