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Homestead's Juedes, like his dad, was a leader in all ways

Outfielder named All-Sub

Aug. 13, 2014

Fathers and sons who are coaches and athletes.

Sometimes the equation, the relationship, is complicated and even the best sometimes have some baggage attached.

But this past school year, Homestead football and baseball star Bryce Juedes and his father, Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) Hall of Famer Dan Juedes, made the very best of it, as Dan sublimated his ego and served as an assistant for both the North Shore Conference champion football team in the fall and for the WIAA state runner-up baseball team this summer.

In the process, he got to work one more time with son Bryce, who was a Now All-Suburban linebacker for the football team and just recently earned a second Now selection as an outfielder for the baseball team.

With that, both Dan and Bryce completed the circle, because while earning his Hall of Fame credentials at Sheboygan Falls (a dominant D3 state football title in 2000), Dan Juedes got to work with Bryce's older brothers Dieter and Jacob.

"It was a great experience and I'm so grateful for the opportunity," said Dan, following the Highlanders' state baseball finals loss to Brookfield Central last month. "To be able to go through this with Bryce was just a special time for me."

Dan had worked out the arrangement with Highlander gridiron legend Dave Keel well in advance, but the idea of working his way onto the baseball staff came up later and Dan carefully cleared the idea with the one person who would be most affected.

"Ernie (Millard) asked me to come up (and be a member of the staff) and then I asked Bryce if he was OK with that," said Dan.

There were no issues, said Bryce.

"It was a great feeling and everything was better for it," said Bryce. "My two older brothers had the same opportunity and it was great that my dad thought enough of me to do that."

Especially to be around for such a special ending to the season.

The Highlanders had a limited pitching staff due to heavy graduation hits in 2013, so the bats had to come through. Led by Juedes, they did just that. He hit .423 with 33 hits, 11 doubles and 26 RBIs, including big run-producing hits in both WIAA sectional and state play.

He was also a quick and wide-ranging leftfielder who made Millard and the pitching staff's life easier by being able to track one hard-hit ball after another.

The strong 25-8 finish was not a surprise to Bryce.

"I thought it really spoke to the character of the team," he said. "Everyone just wanted to get better every day. We used every defeat as a motivation to keep getting better and better."

His leadership was also not to be underestimated.

Take the last play of the game in the state finals loss to Brookfield Central. Centerfielder Luke Neusen made the last out in the 9-2 loss and was completely depressed by the defeat.

"And one of our captains, Bryce went out and got him, told him that this isn't the worst thing in the world," said Millard. "Bryce is such a strong personality and he has developed into such a special leader. Sometimes your best player isn't your best leader.

"Sometimes it is."

It was something of a "father like son" sort of thing. Dan said there were moments during both seasons where he had to bury his old "head coach" ego and let both Keel and Millard do what they thought best for the good of the team.

Millard really appreciated that.

"I mean the guy is in the WFCA Hall of Fame," said Millard, "but he had absolutely no ego. He was also never afraid to offer an opinion, always prefacing it by saying 'You can tell me to get bent on this!'"

Meanwhile, son Bryce had been a three-sport athlete for a long time, running track his freshman and sophomore years and making state in track his sophomore year as part of the Homestead 4x400-meter relay team. A stress fracture took him out of the sport his junior year and he decided to focus on football and baseball his senior year.

Switch to outfield

Growing up in Sheboygan Falls, he had been a catcher in baseball and then split time with catching and the outfield until he made the decision that outfield was just easier on his body.

"And it was an easier way to show off my athleticism," he said.

Once in Mequon, he spent a lot of time with youth baseball guru Dave Wade. Wade's aid was invaluable, said Bryce.

"He (Wade) doesn't get nearly the credit he should," said Bryce. "He deserves a lot of it. All nine seniors on the team this year (himself included), there wasn't a one who didn't benefit from his dedication. He was top-notch."

Wade's son, Eric, was Bryce's co-captain this season.

Even though he and Eric Wade were the only athletes who were both on the football and baseball teams, Bryce said there were a lot of similarities between the teams.

"We were a younger team just like in football and people weren't sure of us," said Bryce, "but we knew we could never be complacent and still be successful."

Bryce was happy to end his high school athletic career in the championship game at Kapco Park.

"It was like coach Millard said, win or lose we were going to wake up with a smile on our faces (after state) because so many things had gone so well," said Bryuce. "We got along well, we were playing with our friends. We just ran out of gas a little there at the end.

"We just wanted to have fun and go as far as we could."

And they didn't want it to end, either.

A couple of days later, Juedes and a couple of the others on the team went back to their home field of Rennicke Park.

"Just to take a little more batting practice, take a few more cuts," Bryce said.

But now, Minnesota-Duluth, where he will play football this fall, is beckoning. He will miss Millard, his friends and above all his dad, but he's excited.

"I'm ready for the next chapter," he said.

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