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Coach’s love of teaching is evident

December 6, 2007

Growing up on a farm in Osceola, Wis., Lee Lueck didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do.

But he did have a plan he was going to try and follow. He was going to attend the Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, Minn., and become a sheet metal worker like his father and brother.

However, UW-River Falls wrestling coach Byron James had different plans for Lueck. James wanted Lueck to attend UWRF and become a member of the Falcon wrestling team.

“I hadn’t ever thought about it,” Lueck said. “Nobody in my family went to college. I went because he recruited me, and I’m still here all these years later.”

As a student
Lueck started his career as a student as an agriculture major, but quickly learned that even though he grew up on a farm, agriculture wasn’t the career path he wanted to take. He then switched his major to education.

“I always liked school, so education seemed like the way to go,” Lueck said.

In 1969, Lueck graduated from UWRF and already had a handful of job opportunities to chose from, including one in River Falls.

Teaching, touching lives
Lueck spent 17 years at River Falls Junior High School, which at that time was for grades seven through nine. When the high school added ninth grade to their building Lueck went with the students and made the switch. He spent 13 years teaching there.

After his retirement from the high school, Lueck wanted to keep teaching, but did take some time off. 

In the spring of 2002, a job opened in the education department at UWRF and Lueck took it. He is now working for the department at about 60 percent.

“I’m teaching two classes and a couple of graduate programs,” Lueck said. “I’m really happy with that.”

Lueck first came to River Falls to coach tennis in the fall of 2001 to coach tennis, but when the job opened up it was a perfect fit.

“After Christmas my wife went back to work and I started watching “Good Morning America” When I started watching “The View,” I knew something was wrong,” Lueck said. “I’m a Type A personality. I can’t stand just sitting around.”

Senior Miranda Pogulis has not had Lueck as a professor, but has found that his care for students goes far beyond the classroom.

Lueck helped Pogulis put together her portfolio even though he had never had her as a student. He was very willing to answer any questions that she had.

Lueck can’t imagine his life without being around students.

“I think I would miss the students too much. They’re idealistic, opportunistic, futuristic … and they laugh,” Lueck said. “I think it’s very refreshing to work with young people.

A coach for life
Lueck just finished his eighth season as the head coach for the women’s tennis team here at UWRF. The team finished 10-4, for one of their best finishes in school history. Prior to his time at UWRF, Lueck coached tennis, wrestling and football at River Falls High School.

Two of Lueck’s proudest coaching accomplishments include seeing Korey Knott be inducted into the UWRF Athletic Hall of Fame and organizing the first UWRF women’s tennis alumni game.

Family man
Lueck lives in River Falls, with his wife Lu. The two of them met in the summer, between Lueck’s time at UWRF.

The couple has two children, Larissa, who is 30 and in her eighth year of teaching in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; and Landon, who is 28 and finishing his final year of college.

Landon Lueck is what some consider a reality television star, following a stint on MTV’s “The Real World,” in 2004. Since then, he has appeared on challenge shows on MTV and at college campuses around the country discussing the importance of drinking responsibly.

“It was tough growing up with my dad because he always expected so much from me,” Landon Lueck said. “It was also tough because he was my tennis coach from very early childhood and I had quite a tennis temper early on. He was also my eleventh grade teacher in world history (where I earned a “C”) as well as my employer (he roofed houses most of the summers he had off if not hosting tennis camps). My father’s work ethic is what I know best about him.” 

Lueck even brings his love and pride of his family into the classroom. On many occasions he will talk about his children, including his son, Landon.

“For one thing, I’m very used to people thinking they know who I am and how I am,” Landon Lueck said.  “But for another reason, he has always spoke of us [our family] and me throughout my life, so it is strange because he talks to others more about me than he talks to me about me.  But I am used to it and it’s his way.”

Lu Lueck described her husband as wonderful and fun-loving man.

The two of them keep very active, even in the winter, they enjoy going to their cabin in Cable, Wis. and ski.

Lueck will be having hip surgery Dec. 18, so that he will have enough time to rest and make it back to school unhindered next spring.

Family members think that the surgery will not keep Lueck down for long.

One of the things that Landon Lueck admires most about his father is that he’s not set in his ways and that he always keeps an open mind.

“He always tries to renew himself. He always tries to keep himself current,” Landon Lueck said.

Larissa Lueck was influenced by her father to go into the teaching profession.

“He is a fantastic teacher. He is very (let me stress again, very) enthusiastic about what he teaches, which inspires others to be excited about the same topics.  He never misses an opportunity to teach,” she said, in an e-mail interview. “I definitely think I went into teaching because of him. He wouldn’t have any idea how to teach my little ones, but I still bounce ideas off him sometimes.”

Once Lueck does decide to retire for good, he said he knows he will have fond memories of teaching, coaching and just spending time getting to know people.

“The thing I love about teaching is that I can go almost anywhere in the world and someone will yell at me,” Lueck said. “Or I can go out on Main Street and see 40-50 year olds and see how they have made it through … these kids are not going to necessarily remember what you taught them, but how you were as a person and what you taught them about life.”