Hall of Fame inductees demonstrate skill, passion

Jan. 11, 2011

Together, they represented the best of Germantown High School in terms of academics, the way they conducted their personal lives and of course in terms of athletics in the late 1990s.

They were also friends too, but seeing as these things happen all the time, they fell out of touch with one another as their lives took different turns following graduation.

However, 1998 graduates and soon-to-be inducted Germantown Athletic Hall of Fame inductees Terry Stephan and Melissa Loehndorf Woltz will get a chance to renew old acquaintances when their ceremonies are held Jan. 21 during the Homestead-Germantown boys basketball game.

Their stories are the stuff of legend. Stephan was the smart, soft-spoken, preposterously strong farm boy who awed teammates and coaches when they came over to his family's spread and saw him toss large hay bales around as easily as he would flip a school backpack over his shoulder.

He was the physical linchpin and large-scale personification of the renaissance of Warhawk football as a two-way lineman. He was a road-grader of an offensive lineman and an unstoppable pocket-collapsing pass rusher, who paved the way for the state finals run of 1997 (though he didn't get to play in that game due to injury).

Stephan was also state runner-up in wrestling at heavyweight in 1997 and placed fifth in the shot put in the state track meet in 1998.

So highly sought was Stephan that then Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez personally came to visit Warhawk coach Phil Datka to discuss the young man's future. Stephan did sign with Wisconsin and was headed toward a robust career as an offensive tackle, when doctors discovered a dangerous condition in his neck that unfortunately put an end to his gridiron career.

There are many out in the football world today, including myself, who believe that Stephan would still be today making life miserable for NFL defensive linemen were it not for that sad but fortunate discovery.

Stephan, however, moved on with his life, staying with the Wisconsin program as a strength and conditioning coach and graduating with a degree in business in 2002. He currently resides in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with his wife Jessica and son Brayden.

And while Stephan was an example of overall athletic excellence, Loehndorf Woltz was a mammothly successful singular sensation.

At the heart of a distance freestyle tradition that continues to this day at Germantown, she was a four-time individual state swim champion, winning both the 200 and 500-yard freestyles in the WIAA State Division 2 swim meet in both 1995 and 1997, setting six state records in the process and winning eight North Shore Conference titles.

When she graduated, she held five individual and two relay school records and she had recorded times that ranked second, third and fourth all-time statewide both in the 200 and 500, respectively. She also led the team to a runner-up finish to champion Shorewood in the 1995 state Division 2 meet.

And Loehndorf Woltz was only getting started in swimming, taking her skills to the University of Iowa, earning the most valuable swimmer award three times, claiming berths in the NCAA championships three times and earning All-American honors in 2001.

She became the school's first Big 10 Conference individual champion in close to a decade when she won the 1,650 freestyle in 2000 and the 200 butterfly in 2001. When she graduated in 2002 with a degree in graphic design, she was the holder of nine school records and later did a stint as a post-graduate assistant and swimmer at Arizona State.

Younger sister Megan Loehndorf won the WIAA state Division 1 500 free title in 2001.

Loehndorf Woltz indicated in an e-mail to Athletic Director Jack Klebesadel that she's looking forward to the ceremonies and is pleased about seeing her old friend Stephan again.

A happy reuniting of peers on their familiar stage.

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