Winter finally arrived in Waukesha this past week, and the Packers exited the playoffs without as much as a whimper. It's enough to start dreaming about warm summer nights and high school baseball at Frame Park.
For the Montez family, 2012 promises to be an interesting season. Named the head varsity coach at Waukesha South, Marc Montez is set to begin his first year wearing a uniform other than the royal blue and silver of Waukesha West, where he coached and played for a combined 15 years.
"It will be weird, but this is something I always wanted, ever since my first year of coaching," Marc said. "To be honest, I never thought I would end up in the Classic Eight as a head coach."
His new job at South pits him against his older brother, Chad, who enters his 15th season at West, where he turned the program into a perennial baseball powerhouse. Not only are Marc and Chad brothers, but Chad coached Marc, who graduated from West in 2000, for the last three years of his high school career. After his playing days were over, Marc joined Chad on the West coaching staff, spending seven years as the head freshman coach, and four years as a varsity assistant.
Then there are Tom and Bonnie Montez, the brothers' father and mother, who have been at almost every Waukesha West game that either of their sons ever coached.
"We're trying to figure out how we're going to do it this year," admitted Tom, who coached Chad, Marc, and middle brother Lee when they played for the Cooper Chargers baseball team as kids.
He said he and Bonnie will most likely rotate who goes to each game.
"I'll probably go to Marc's game, and she'll probably go to Chad's game, and then the next game we'll switch around," he said with a laugh. "And then I'll go to Chad's, and she'll go to Marc's game."
Just another game
When the two teams meet each other in conference play, they'll finally be able to watch a game together again.
"My wife came up with this idea - we're going to get a T-shirt made that says Waukesha West on one side, and Waukesha South on the other side," Tom said.
He added, "When they play against each other, we'll have to sit in the middle right behind home plate."
Their new T-shirt will get some use right away this coming season, as the two teams are scheduled to meet in the conference opener on May 24 at Frame Park.
Will that game have some extra meaning for each brother?
Said Marc, "It will be a competitive game, I'm sure, both sides. We're all competitors, West, South, whoever you are, and they're going to want to beat you as bad as I'm going to want to beat them. But then when the game is over, we'll respectfully shake hands and go on our way and we'll see each other when we see each other the next time."
"Obviously you want to compete and put your team in the best chance to win, no matter who you're playing," Chad said. "It will be kind of cool that you're playing against your brother, and maybe at family get-togethers, holidays, there might be more discussion, him and I, or maybe some kind of joking back and forth where, 'hey do you remember this game?'"
But to the Waukesha West coach, South games will mostly be another date on the calendar.
"I think when it's the actual season, I don't think it will be any different from any other game. That first one will probably be the biggest deal made, just because it will be the conference opener, his first season. It will probably be a cooler thing for my parents."
The two brothers are far enough apart in age that they never really had to compete with each other at home growing up. Chad was graduating from high school when Marc was six years old.
"I think him and I have kind of a unique relationship, because obviously the age is part of it," Chad said in a recent interview. "Obviously we're brothers, and we love each other and we get along well, but then also with him having to play for me and then coach with me, and I guess, work under me a little bit in a boss relationship, that's probably kind of hard. I guess that's probably not the easiest thing to do."
Now, Marc will have the chance to call his own shots and leave his own legacy on a program in need of a revival. West and South finished on opposite ends of the standings last year. West returned to the state championship and won the Classic Eight with an 18-4 record, while South finished 2-18 in conference at the bottom of the standings.
Marc plans to rebuild South's program in a similar way to how his brother engineered a power baseball program at West.
Said Marc, "There will definitely be a lot of overlap, but there's also going to be a lot of differences as well. Chad's got more of the numbers at West than I do. It's just going to be about trying to get those numbers put back up and just try to get a competitive freshman, JV, and lower-level program as well as a varsity. It's going to take some time to get that, but hopefully we'll do our best."
Marc is well-suited for the task ahead of him. He helped his brother turn West into a program that has been to the state championship in Stevens Point seven times since 2002, with multiple conference championships.
"(Marc) was a huge part of our success probably in the last 10 years - probably from 2002 through last year," the West coach said. "We've had a tremendous amount of success, and I think that's due to the great coaches we have, plus the players, obviously.
"We'll definitely miss him. You don't really replace someone of Marc's significance, being there for 11 years. To replace him would probably be near impossible to do, but I'm happy for him on the other end. He's been looking for a head job, for maybe three to four years."
May 24 and the rest of the baseball season will be here soon, as a new era begins in Waukesha baseball.