Tokens of appreciation

Wildcats present jerseys to Alpena High staff members

Courtesy Photo Alpena junior Sam Romero (right) chose to give his jersey to Alpena High School staff member Robyn Miller. The Wildcat football team began a new homecoming tradition this year as each player chose a staff member that has impacted their life in a positive way to wear their jersey during the homecoming football game.

Homecoming week is always a special time in high school.

From decorating hallways, themes throughout the week, building floats, the presentation of homecoming king and queen, along with the traditional Friday night football game and homecoming dance, there’s never any shortage of activity.

This year at Alpena High School, the football program is celebrating in a special way and starting a new tradition.

During the week, Alpena football players have presented their home green football jerseys to certain staff members at Alpena High School who have made a positive impact on them.

These staff members will proudly wear their respective players jersey on Friday during the school day and during the home football game against Petoskey at Wildcat Stadium.

Courtesy Photo Senior Kody Bertrand (left) stands next to Alpena High School staff member Theresa Pizzino who is proudly wearing his number 11 home jersey.

“Each player picked a staff member in the building that has impacted their lives in a positive manner. Each player will give their home jerseys to wear on game day Friday,” Alpena coach Aaron Sims said. “We will once again have special homecoming jerseys this year and Mr. (Thomas) Berriman helped me out with this idea and I definitely thought it was something that needed to be done. Teachers are here every day putting in good work for the kids so it’s just a good thing to recognize the work that’s being done.”

Several faculty members have already received their jersey that they will wear on Friday during the game.

A likely big crowd for Friday’s homecoming game can expect to see staff members such as Robyn Miller wearing junior Sam Romero’s jersey, Amy Browdridge sporting senior Eric Troy’s number 25, Pete Doubek wearing Austin Ritter’s, Thomas Stoppa in Jordan Schultz’s jersey, John Caplis wearing Marcus Amlotte’s jersey, Jhett Werle’s jersey will be worn by Ronald Cadarette, Mike Gozzard will wear George Pilarski’s and Jason Dubey will wear Alec Zielaskowski’s jersey among many other staff members that can be seen wearing their Wildcat green on Friday.

“It was very flattering to be recognized by one of our athletes as making a difference to him. I think that in this day and age when public education and consequently, public educators, are under attack, it is a very uplifting gesture to recognize educators for something good,” Alpena High School staff member Paula Gehrke said. “It also teaches our students to recognize and appareciate the efforts of others which is always a good thing.”

Gehrke will be wearing Wyatt Romero’s number 65 jersey. Other staff members who will be proudly representing the Wildcat football players include: Romeo Bourdage (Nathan McCoy), Erin Sharp (Anakin Sims), Julie Manning (Zac Cramer), Darlene Cool (Kelley Stark), DeWayne Schellie (Brady Oliver), Melissa Jarema (Bob Sheldon), Eric Mitchell (Nathan Slominski), Collin Riffert (Brand Secrest), Bill Bright (Haydn Goebel), Julie Warner (Isaac Wohlford), Phil Cook (Gabe Bullis), Joe Bastow (Kayden Wisniewski), Linda Ferguson (Logan Guthrie), Sean Ballor (Zach Schaedig), Gregg Supiran (Zac Suszek), Amanda Pilarski (Mitchell Pfeifer), and Tony Linton (Eli Winter) and Theresa Pizzino (Kody Bertrand).

Courtesy Photo Senior Austin Ritter (left) and Alpena High School staff member Pete Doubek hold Ritter’s jersey that Doubek will wear during homecoming on Friday.

“I gave mine to, believe or not, the lunch lady Mrs. Ferguson because the only way a girl can get to my heart is by food and she does a pretty good job at it. She knows my student ID number every time I come in, we talk all the time about football and she’s just a great person,” Guthrie said. “She said she was very honored and that made me smile a lot because I don’t think she saw it coming. I don’t think she realizes how much I like her and how great of a person she really is.”

The players each had a special reason for giving their jerseys to a certain staff member and all of the staff members who will be wearing a jersey on Friday have had a special impact on each of the student-athletes.

“I chose Mrs. Pizzino because she’s been extremely friendly to me since my freshman year. She’s always asking how I’m doing and she’s always got a smile on her face, which makes your day better,” Bertrand said. “She was very flattered. It just made her happy to know someone appreciated her as a staff member.”

Much like these football plays put in work during practices and games, these staff members continue to put in work inside the classrooms and impact students.

“This is something that we’re going to try and do every year. It’s a nice tradition and I think the teachers will be excited about it too,” Sims said. “It’s nice to get recognition because you don’t always get it and even if it’s just for one day out the year. it’s nice to give them that recognition. This will be a homecoming tradition each year.”

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5690.