Louis J. Kaczmarek              Inducted 1991 - Class of 1943

"My biggest thrill at WHS was the night we beat Waite, 6-0, in 1942, for Woodward's first city football victory since 1932. I think and believe that was the turning point as far as a career choice was concerned. I made up my mind that night after the game was over that I would pursue a coaching and teaching career--which I did for 36 years."

Lou Kaczmarek played WHS football from 1939 to 1942. Upon graduation in 1943, he took a place on Miami University's football team but World War II put Lou's dream on hold. He entered the United States Air Force and served through 1946. During this time he was stationed overseas in New Guinea, South West Pacific and Japan.

Returning to college in 1947, Lou once again took to the playing field for MU. He achieved another goal three years later by completing his Bachelor of Science degree in education.

Entering his chosen profession in 1950, Lou taught such things as driver’s education, graphic arts, mechanical drawing, physical education and woodworking. Lou's second love, coaching, was honed as an assistant coach for Avon High School, Elyria Catholic High School, Cleveland Benedictine High School, Toledo Whitmer High School, Garden City High School and Hanover College in Indiana.

He served as head coach for Green Springs and Delta High Schools. His occupation carried him throughout the tri-state area. Starting in 1964, Lou became head coach of the Franklin High School Wildcats for six years. In 1965, his team won the Mid-Miami League. His players also rose to excellence. Lou coached nine All-Ohio and three High School All-American football players.

Coach Kaz also inspired some players to follow in his footsteps. Seven of his former FHS players are teaching and are coaching high school teams--three as head coaches, three as assistant coaches and one in a dual role as head football coach and athletic director.

In 1970 Lou was hired as FHS Athletic Director and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1985. During his tenure, the athletic programs increased from 17 boys' activities to a total of 53 activities for boys and girls. All this was accomplished without financial help from the Board of Education. With Lou at the helm, the athletic department finished every year financially in the black.

Lou was instrumental in founding the current Franklin Athletic Boosters Club. With Lou's aid, this group made all improvements to the FHS football field including building bleachers for both home and visitor sides and erecting two new scoreboards and a press box.

A few of Lou's many honors were Ohio High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and Ohio High School Athletic Directors Athletic Director of the Year in 1985. Lou serves on the Southwest Ohio Athletic Directors Association. Since 1979, he has held such positions as secretary, vice president, president and board of governors within that organization.

Lou served as vice president and president of the Miami University Cradle of Coaches Association. In 1985, Lou received a Certificate of Achievement from this organization. The award recognized lifetime and special achievements of Miami alumni in the coaching profession.

Currently, he is still an integral part of the FHS football program. Although he is officially retired, Lou volunteers as a football coach. Ironically, five of the seven coaches played for Lou while he was in charge of the team.

Personally, Lou agrees that coaching has been a rewarding career. "There are many highs and many lows. The highs came when you watched your kids do a tremendous job on the field, and later on in their lives. The thrill you get when your old players still call you 'Coach.' The lows came when something happened in your players' lives either in school or during their careers. You want to do all you can for them since they will always be 'your kids'."

Perhaps Lou's success can be attributed to his days at WHS. He admired his coaches Arnold Brown, Bill Fetters, Jack Taylor, Homer Hanham, Joe Dence, Elmer Vorderberg, Art Smith and Watson Welever. Lou said he looked up to them. "A lot of them were instrumental in me choosing education and coaching as a career," he said.

Being chosen by Hanham as a counselor at Camp Big Silver was one of his fondest memories. Another important time came when Lou graduated from WHS. He was the first grandchild from either side of his family to complete a secondary education.

While at WHS, his best friends were Ed Sloan, Bill Santus, Ed Rose, John Payak, Jim Knierim and Irv Wisniewski. Irv fell prey to Lou's practical jokes. One of Lou's most humorous memories was the time he put Ben-Gay in Irv's athletic supporter.

Since then, Lou has settled down a bit. Football left his knees in bad condition resulting in seven knee surgeries and a total knee replacement. He has been married to Katherine since 1953. They have two children, Phil and Mary, and two grandchildren, Jon and Nate.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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