Simon makes a first class move

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton football coach Tim Simon made the decision recently to promote Jason Pertzborn to co-head coach. If things go well this season, Pertzborn could become the head coach by 2019./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The coaching profession is a dog eat dog world.

Grown men everywhere fight their way up the ladder, then they try to pummel each other on the gridiron.

So what happened at Middleton High School recently isn’t just rare. It’s almost unprecedented.

Cardinals head coach Tim Simon — in the prime of his coaching life at 51 years old — decided to turn the coaching reigns over to offensive coordinator Jason Pertzborn as early as 2019.

Pertzborn, a 1990 Middleton graduate, had always aspired to be the head coach at his alma mater. But with Simon still a young man and Pertzborn exploring other coaching opportunities, Simon called one of the most selfless audibles you’ll ever see.

Now, Simon and Pertzborn will operate as co-head coaches this season. Then, if everything goes well, the 47-year-old Pertzborn will become the head coach in 2019 and Simon will become the assistant head coach.

“This is something I want to do for Jason,” Simon said. “Jason is a good friend and an excellent coach.”

In most places, when coaches land the head job, you have to pry it out of their hands. At MHS, Simon gave Pertzborn an early Christmas gift — heck, a lifetime of Christmas gifts — and handed him the keys to the program.

Those that know Simon well probably aren’t shocked he made a sacrifice like this.

The football community is packed with nose tackle-sized egos. But Simon, an anal, Type-A personality, is as ego-less as they come.

“I really appreciate it,” Pertzborn said. “It’s certainly not something Tim had to do.”

Indeed.

Middleton athletic director Bob Joers said he was pleased with the job Simon has done since taking over as the Cardinals’ head man in 2004. In the time since, Middleton has gone 111-39 for a .740 winning percentage, went to the state semifinals in 2008 and the state quarterfinals in 2010 and 2016. The Cardinals have also qualified for the playoffs 22 consecutive years, which is tied with Hartland Arrowhead for the largest streak in Division 1.

Sure, there will always be detractors about Middleton’s 11-14 record in the postseason under Simon (.440). But Simon runs a model program, his teams are respectful and play the right way, and the majority of players leave MHS better for the experience.

“Tim did a great job, no doubt about it,” Middleton athletic director Bob Joers said. “He certainly wasn’t in any kind of trouble here. He could have been the head coach as long as he wanted. This was just about him trying to doing something for Jason.”

When Simon made the decision to promote Pertzborn — and received Joers’ approval — Pertzborn was a finalist for the Madison Memorial coaching job. Deep down, Simon knew there was something about that combination that just didn’t work.

Pertzborn not only played at Middleton, he lives and teaches in the district. Pertzborn’s two daughters go to school in the district, as well.

“He is Middleton, through and through,” Simon said of Pertzborn. “Being a colleague, let alone a good friend of mine, I would just hate to see him coach elsewhere, especially when he would remain a Middleton teacher, resident and father. His dream job has always been to be a head football coach for Middleton High School.”

Pertzborn should thrive in his new role.

Pertzborn has a bright offensive mind and a knack for calling plays. He’s tough and players respond to him. And he has the respect of the staff that he’ll soon lead.

Simon, on the other hand, says he plans to coach “into my 70s.” He’ll just do it as the assistant head coach and guide position groups instead of the whole team.

“I will be honest, this has been an extremely difficult decision,” Simon said. “However, it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to help a good friend's dream come true.

“I have enjoyed every single second of my job! I have been so lucky to have amazing support from players, parents, teachers, fellow coaches, community members — everything and everyone over all my years! I could count on two fingers any "issues" I have ever had! 

“I consider myself so lucky and blessed to have no issues and so much support in my 15 years! This is a sacrifice that is very hard to make, but one I am willing to make for my friend.”

Selfless, noble, gallant. All titles are applicable to Simon here.

This was the rare instance where “dog eat dog” didn’t exist. Instead, one dog gave the other his bone.

And there was something refreshing about it all.

 

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