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Legacy Leadership Award
2023 Legacy Leadership Recipients

Executive Board Recipient: Niki Sutter

NikiSutter.jpgThe information for Niki is presented by the Executive Board and Legacy Leadership Committee of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.

Niki began her teaching and coaching career at Hartford Union High School in 2001 where she taught Physical Education and Health and coached freshman volleyball, jv softball, and was the varsity assistant basketball coach. It was always her dream to become a head basketball coach, which became a reality in 2006 when she became the varsity coach at Oshkosh West. The Wildcats were state runners-up in 2008 and made a return trip to state in 2012. Niki resigned from coaching high school in 2018 and was an assistant on the UW Oshkosh Women’s staff and fortunate to be a part of teams that advanced to the 3rd round of the NCAA tournament. Currently, Niki continues to teach Physical Education at Oshkosh West High School. At West, Niki is a lead female instructor in the strength and conditioning courses and will be piloting a mental training program next year. She is also an adult advisor for Sources of Strength (a mental health promotion and suicide prevention program), a team captain for the district wellness team, and the district’s First Aid/CPR/AED instructor. Although no longer an active coach, Niki remains a basketball enthusiast, coaching youth teams, working camps, scouting, breaking down film for several teams, or just road tripping with her dad to see a good game!

Niki became involved in the WBCA through the encouragement of high school friend and WBCA Hall of Fame member, Nick Kartos. She began as the Division 1 Girls Rep, which led to multiple opportunities within the organization. Niki is honored to have served as a past president of the WBCA and is a contributing member of the Legacy Leadership Award Committee, Equity Committee, Mentoring Committee, Miss Basketball committee, and Hall of Fame Committee. Niki enjoyed the privilege of attending the National High School Basketball Coaches Association convention with Ken Barrett (and was the only female in attendance). This was a proud moment for Niki to represent the WBCA and highlight why the WBCA is the best coaches association in the US!

A few other WBCA activities and responsibilities include coaching the Division 1 North Girls team in the 2013 All-Star game, assisting with area all-star meetings and the girls showcase, running the hospitality room at the girls basketball state tournament, and presenting the Miss Basketball award. As the WBCA president, Niki also was a member of the WIAA Basketball Coaches Advisory Board and a voting member for seeding the state tournament. Niki has also done the color commentary for the girls basketball state tournament, and is an alternate to do so again this year.

Niki enjoys giving back and being involved in the community. She participates in events for the Oshkosh Boys and Girls Club, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Center, Oshkosh Kids Foundation, Women’s Empowerment Series, Special Olympics, and MACC Fund to name a few.

Niki is grateful for the connections, collaboration, and camaraderie that being involved in the WBCA has provided. She enjoys being part of a prestigious organization that recognizes and honors so many and continues to grow and give back to the game.

Boys Player: Isaiah Deitz, Chequamegon

IsaiahDeitz.jpgThe nomination information and presentation for Isaiah are provided by Thomas Tollakson, the Head Varsity Boys' Basketball Coach at Chequamegon High School in the Chequqmegon School District.

When I first read about the qualities of the Legacy Leadership Award: Character, Courage, and Service, I immediately thought of Isaiah Deitz for this prestigious award. Over the last four years, Isaiah Deitz has exemplified the characteristics of character, courage, and service in our Chequamegon Boys Basketball Program, school, and community. Isaiah has had a profound impact on his teammates by leading by example and caring for them as people, not just basketball players.

Isaiah has committed himself to the game of basketball by working on his game early in the morning, on weekends, and when most are not willing to make time for basketball. Isaiah gives rides to underclassmen and brings them with him when he is doing extra workout sessions. Isaiah has helped create a desire in our program to improve yourself as a basketball player by being willing to make sacrifices in order to get in the gym. 

Isaiah is a positive role model for the youth in our community, not only because of what he can do on the court, but because he wants to inspire our youth to be the best version of themselves. He comes to the elementary school and speaks to students about basketball and what he has done to improve as a player and as a person. His message has had a strong impact on boys and girls who are now more willing to invest more time in basketball and helping others. Isaiah volunteers his time to help at our Little Eagles Youth Basketball sessions on Saturday mornings. He has also officiated youth basketball games for our youth program.

Isaiah has the courage to overcome; there were those who said he couldn't play basketball at the next level. Those who said he wasn’t skilled enough. Those who said he wasn’t strong enough. Those who said playing in northern Wisconsin in the small district of Chequamegon was going to keep him from getting noticed. He never wavered in his desire to accomplish his goal of playing college basketball. Isaiah is a great example of someone who believed in himself and gave everything he had to the game of basketball, his school, and his community. Isaiah received a scholarship to play basketball at Concordia University St. Paul, a Division II school located in St. Paul, Minnesota. He accepted and will attend this fall.
Isaiah has been an example of servant leadership by giving his time to others in the community. Isaiah volunteers his time to work with our youth basketball players. I have watched Isaiah pick up empty bottles and garbage from our bench and bleachers after a game. Isaiah can often be seen talking to his teammates during practice and games with the intention of picking them up when they are feeling down on themselves. Isaiah’s actions towards his teammates communicates trust, belief, and love to each and every one of his 18 “brothers”. Isaiah Deitz serves others--not to get attention or to be recognized for it; he serves others because through his faith and upbringing he has learned that helping others makes his life more fulfilling and enjoyable.  

Girls Player: Olivia Close, Wauwatosa East

OliviaClose.jpgThe nomination information and presentation for Olivia are provided by Mary Merg, the Head Varsity Girls' Basketball Coach at Wauwatosa East High School in the Wauwatosa School District.

When you look at the qualities of the Legacy Leadership Award: character, courage, and service, it is evident to see how Olivia Close earned this prestigious award. Over the past four years, Olivia has made an immense impact not only on the court and in the classroom, but also in the Wauwatosa and Greater Milwaukee community.

Olivia is a 4 year varsity member and 2 year captain for the Wauwatosa East Girls Basketball Program. On the court, Olivia’s character speaks for itself. Olivia has been our starting point guard since her freshman year. Our program at that time was struggling with injuries, transfers, and lack of commitments. We didn't win a conference game her freshman year and only won 1 conference game her sophomore year. Yet through the constant struggles, Olivia never gave up. Olivia would come to school an hour early to get shots up, she'd watch game film on her own, and she craved more feedback, always coachable. Not many athletes have navigated the constant adversity that Olivia has. Winning a total of 8 games in 2 years as the starting point guard, it's frustrating, it's exhausting, and it can be a detriment to confidence. But the constant is that Olivia never backed down, stayed positive, and continued to give her best effort. It was also early on in her freshman year I noticed that Olivia always picked up the balls after practice, usually by herself, even though I never asked her to once. She is always looking for ways to help.

Junior year is when Olivia really started to break out not only in her basketball performance, but in her leadership role as well. Olivia became a 1st Team All Greater Metro Conference player, averaging 18 points & 3.6 steals per game. She led her team to 10 wins and more importantly started to change the culture at East. As a leader, Olivia leads by example. She is soft spoken by nature, but her teammates follow her lead. Olivia never takes a practice, a drill, a second off and that radiates onto her teammates. In addition, she is always lending an ear for her teammates and truly enjoys their success as much as her own.

It has been a complete transformation for Olivia as she finished her senior year. Olivia led her team to a Top 5 finish in conference, a regional championship, and a total of 16 wins this past season. All of her basketball accolades she has earned is through sheer grit, work ethic, and mental toughness. As a leader, Olivia understood that going alone will only get you so far. What was once very few showing up for off-season workouts, now became the entire program of 30 players. What once was only her showing up for 7am shooting workouts before school, now became a group of players. In addition, Olivia has volunteered countless hours in our youth program, running clinics and organizing events. She is always the first to volunteer and the last one to leave. And once more, still picking up all the basketballs before she leaves the gym.

You see her character, courage, and service off the court as well. Olivia currently has a 4.0 GPA. Olivia holds leadership roles in National Honors Society, Key Club (volunteering club), Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and Link Crew (school culture organization). Outside of Tosa East, she continues to serve. Olivia is a member of ENGin and tutors English to a girl in Ukraine once a week. She also tutors a girl in China before school starts on Thursdays. Olivia is a member of the International Institute of Wisconsin and volunteers weekly helping a refugee family adjust & transition to the US culture. Lastly, she is on the Wauwatosa Youth Commission and was chosen as a representative to common council and mayor for community input and initiatives. Olivia embodies the definition of service.

Olivia is undecided on where she will attend college, but plans on potentially pursuing international studies & immigration policy as a field of study. Truly, it is hard to put into words the profound impact Olivia has had in our community. Her legacy is not just a moment of time, not just a 4 year experience, it is a lasting impact that will carry over for years to come. The Tosa East community is so fortunate to call Olivia ours. She is a confident leader, a mentor, and a server. Olivia brings a special presence to the girls basketball program, not because of her talent, but who she is as a person.

About Legacy Leadership Award

Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and Midwest Athletes Against Children’s Cancer Legacy Leadership Award

Olivia's and Isaiah's legacy leadership awards were presented on Sunday, April 2nd in Wisconsin Dells at the All-State Awards Program and Banquet.

Niki's Legacy Leadership Award presentation will take place in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday, September 24th at the Hall of Fame Awards Program and Banquet.

The award was established in 2019 to honor the legacy, leadership, and lives of WBCA Executive Board members John Cary, Jerry Petitgoue, and David Royston in recognition of their leadership qualities, characteristics in interpersonal relationships, and achievement as Board members.

John Cary served as the MACC Fund's director for nearly 37 years until his retirement in 2018. During that time the cure rate for pediatric cancer increased from 20 percent to 80 percent. The MACC Fund, since its inception in 1976, has contributed over $67 million dollars to childhood cancer and related blood disorder research. The WBCA has proudly contributed $2.9 million dollars towards that amount.

Jerry Petitgoue of Cuba City is the winningest coach in Wisconsin high school basketball history, retiring following the 2023 season. Petitgoue has coached Varsity basketball for 55 years achieving a career record of 1027-270 with three state championships . He is presently in his 26th year as the Executive Director of the WBCA.

David Royston and his wife, Joy, have led Sports Impressions since 1989 and JustAgame Fieldhouse since 2006 in Wisconsin Dells. Their partnership with the WBCA and the MACC Fund has been a catalyst for the growth in membership and donations. JustAGame provides a home for the WBCA Hall of Fame, Fall Coaches Clinic, and the WBCA-MACC Fund All-Star games.

The WBCA-MACC Fund Legacy Award will be given annually to an Executive Board member and senior student who demonstrates the exemplary qualities of Character, Courage, and Service.

A committee established by the Executive Board has been given the honor and privilege to lead the yearly process of selecting an Executive Board member and student recipient. The 2019 recipients were Dan Burreson, Executive Board member from Mineral Point, and MacKenzie Lindow, student-athlete honoree from East Troy High School.

The committee invites your consideration to nominate a student in their senior year who exemplifies the qualities of character, courage and service. Please join us in the journey of honoring the legacy of three exemplary leaders and two outstanding organizations.

Past Recipients


Executive Board Recipient: Niki Sutter
Boys Player: Isaiah Deitz, Chequamegon
Girls Player: Olivia Close, Wauwatosa East


Executive Board Recipient: Ken Barrett
Boys Player: Logan Uppena, Potosi
Girls Player: Makenzie Breunig, Sauk Prairie


Executive Board Recipient: Eli Crogan
Boys Player: Logan White, Wausau West
Girls Player: Maty Wilke, Beaver Dam


Executive Board Recipient: Dennis Uppena
Player: Brady Olson, Cuba City


Executive Board Recipient: Dan Burreson
Player: Mckenzie Lindlow




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