Holmen High School kicked off its homecoming weekend last Friday with a flag football game between the adapted physical education class and a collection of Viking athletes.
The kickoff for the fifth annual Homecoming Tuneup Game was technically a slingshot, used in lieu of a kicking tee by the adapted PE team, nicknamed Bagniewski’s Bulldozers after their instructor Jared Bagniewski. The roster for the Bulldozers consisted of 15 players, all with specified offensive and defensive positions.
A few years ago, Bagniewski and Steven Eggerichs started an alternative PE program called TRAILS, which stands for Teaching Responsibility and Incorporating Lifelong Skills. TRAILS is an adventure based, no-change PE class that focuses on working together, conflict resolution and sportsmanship within small groups of students.
One function for students in the TRAILS program is to plan and help teach lessons for Bagniewski’s adapted PE class — one of which being flag-football. The first year that TRAILS organized a homecoming game, they just played as a combined class — but with each year, the amount of students and staff that participated grew.
This year’s game rivaled the ones played on Friday nights, with an entire side of bleachers at Empire Stadium filled with cheering students. Bagniewski and Eggerichs opened up the event to all teachers to bring their first-hour classes to, and Eggerichs said this year’s game had probably the biggest crowd to date.
The game included fully-uniformed officials, multi-page programs, a functioning chain-gang, concessions ran by the FFA, the Viking pep band, and play-by-play commentary booming from the press box.
“We just thought that with homecoming, there’s a lot of celebration going on” said Eggerichs. “And we just saw this as another way we can celebrate the gifts and talents of our students.”
Seventeen athletes from various Holmen varsity teams, including all-state softball player Kendra Leis and all-state cross-country runner Mason Kalander, made up the opposing team, named the Varsity All-Stars. The Bulldozers rallied from behind in the second half to overcome the All-Stars for the sensational upset win.