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VIDEO | Gruber kids go to bat for their Dad who lost his coaching job at Kewaskum High School

Kewaskum, Wi – Donny Gruber has been coaching the varsity boys’ basketball team in Kewaskum since May 2015. Gruber, a 1975 graduate of Kewaskum High School, has coached the Indians all-time leading scorer Antoine Thull and single-game scoring leader Zach Behm. All the while, he had his favorite assistant coach, daughter Katie Gruber at his side as they led KHS season after season.

This scenario will change next season as the Kewaskum School Board during its June 13 meeting voted 4 – 3 (with 2 abstaining and 1 no vote) on a consent agenda which approved Tyler Enright as the new head coach for the Kewaskum boys’ varsity basketball team.


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Gruber received word he was going to be replaced in May. He was asked to consider stepping down. There was then also mention there would be consideration that he be added to the Alumni wall at the school.

Gruber declined the offer, and his kids, Katie and Nick, took up the torch fighting for their dad to be reinstated. The siblings wrote letters, made phone calls, and even put together a petition.


During the Thursday night meeting, Katie took advantage of the public comment segment on the agenda to relay your concerns to the school board.

Board Meeting Katie

Katie took her allotted 3 minutes and then a member of the audience ceded their time to her, and then another, and another.

Katie was organized. She read from a script. Detail after detail, supporting her dad and his accomplishments, his leadership, guidance, and passion for the game.

“He has always provided his players with the best experience he could and dedicated himself to knowing every aspect of the game,” said Katie.

“On top of his high-level qualifications, Don has also been involved in the community and donated his time as well as financially to the youth program to provide the upcoming athletes with an outstanding learning experience. Don’s financial donations to the school and high school program, and youth program were always done anonymously as he wasn’t looking for the recognition, but rather that he wanted every player to be part of the program whether they could afford it or not. His heart has always been with Kewaskum which is why we are requesting coach Don Gruber be reinstated as the boys’ basketball coach as he is the epitome of what a qualified and committed candidate would be. Thank you.”

Nick took over and expressed his concerns about how the decision to release his father was handled. He was followed by former coach and KHS English teacher Jim Westphal. “He has a love of the game,” he said. “I was very impressed with his organization and observation. Donald knows the game and I was disappointed to hear he was asked to step down. I’m disappointed to see him removed.”


The Gruber family sat side-by-side; other supporters were in attendance hoping their efforts would encourage the board to have a change of heart.

Ric Leitheiser, who knew Don Gruber as a friend, abstained from the vote. As did board member Tim Ramthun, who had difficulty with the agenda item.  Board member Sue Miller voted ‘no’ on the consent agenda, which eventually passed and thus sealed the fate that night officially ending Don Gruber’s current reign as coach of the Indians.

After the meeting superintendent Mark Bazata acknowledged Don Gruber did reapply for the post. He confirmed he was not interviewed.

After the meeting board president Jim Leister praised the respectfulness of the Gruber family. “This could have gone one of two ways,” he said. “Katie and Nick handled themselves very well and I expected nothing less.”

After the meeting, Nick and Katie, who fought so tenaciously for their dad, reluctantly accepted the decision but did so with grace. “I’m feeling a bit defeated,” said the young Katie Gruber.

She closed her speech that night with a quote from Robert Schuller. “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”

Even though Gruber lost the job, on this Father’s Day you have to hope he realizes just how well he did instilling values of respect, hard work, character, determination and grace as a coach and a dad.

Editor’s note: Gruber Tool & Die is a supporter of WashingtonCountyInsider.com



  2. Kewaskum HS list a good one. No one invests more in their team than Don. Sand ending to what could’ve been a great story

  3. What a huge and stupid error by the Kewaskum school board.DonGruber is a once in a life time coach.The young boys coached by Don Gruber will forever remember their coach and the lessons in life they learned.
    I vote for a new school board you folks are Nit wits
    Terry Tighe

  4. Mr Owens.
    The new coach was made aware of the opening and applied for it. He doesn’t have anything do to with any of this. I’m sure Coach Enright is excited to get his first varsity opportunity.

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