Janesville Parker High School names new girls basketball coach

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John Barry
July 10, 2015

JANESVILLE--The reins of the Janesville Parker High girls basketball program are being handed to a former player who helped stamp the Vikings as a state powerhouse.

Jennah (Burkholder) Hartwig will take over for longtime coach Tom Klawitter, who retired from teaching June 11.

Klawitter said the coaching position was awarded before he was able to apply.

Hartwig led the Vikings to their first state championship in 1993.

She led Parker to four straight state tournament appearances and two state championship berths. Hartwig was named the state's top player in the 1992-93 season.

“Well, I'm extremely honored to have the opportunity to take over a program that I value so much,” Hartwig said Friday. “I've been a part of it for so many years and truly understand that when people think of Janesville Parker High School, the first thing they think of is the girls basketball program.

“And it starts with Tom and his dedication. And that's why I want so much to carry on that tradition. And the best way to do that is to continue winning.”

Klawitter built the program into a state power that won three state titles. He guided the Vikings to 12 state appearances, which is second only to Cuba City's 14.

Klawitter retired as a physical education teacher at Parker on June 11 after 29 years in the school district. When a coach in the Janesville School District retires as a teacher, he or she must re-apply for any coaching position within the district.

As required by Wisconsin Retirement System by-laws, Klawitter could not apply for the Parker girls basketball job for 75 days, or until Aug. 25, he said.

“I would've re-applied for the job, no doubt about it,” Klawitter said. “But it doesn't matter now. It's a moot point.

“The most important thing is that Jennah got the job. That's great. Under the circumstances, she's the best answer right now. It's nice to keep it in the family, so to speak.”

Parker Athletic Director Joe Dye declined to comment on the process of hiring Hartwig but was quick to praise Klawitter's remarkable coaching career.

“His record speaks for itself,” Dye said. “It's unparalleled in this part of the state.

“I have tremendous respect for the time and effort he put into the program. He did a tremendous job, and there are plenty of student-athletes that will tell you the same thing.”

Dye referred questions about the hiring process to Human Resources Director Steve Sperry, who was acting superintendent Friday because Superintendent Karen Schulte was in China. The Gazette was not able to reach Sperry for comments.

Klawitter exits with the fifth-most wins by a girls basketball coach in state history. He compiled a 564-128 career record. Jim Myers of Barneveld is the all-time leader with 699.

Could Klawitter return to the bench as an assistant? Hartwig didn't rule it out.

“I'll certainly keep in contact with him,” Hartwig said. “I've already hinted to him about it. But it's his call.”

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