Al Mancheski Obit - by Janson Mancheski
ALVIN MANCHESKI, HALL OF FAME FOOTBALL COACH, IS DEAD
Alvin “Doctor Al” Mancheski, the football coach who built winning programs at Sturgeon Bay High School in the 1950s, then at Green Bay East in the 1960s, passed away peacefully in his sleep Wednesday night at his home in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Dr. Mancheski (a former optometrist, as well as a high school teacher, wrestling, baseball and football coach), was 95 years old, and had been in failing health for the past six months.
Born in nearby Denmark Wisconsin on February 23, 1921, the Mancheski family moved to Green Bay when Al was ten. Like East High’s Curly Lambeau before him, if there was one word that would summarize the next 50 years of his life, that word would be “Football.” Al became an outstanding athlete at East High in the late 1930s and 1940, where he was all-conference running back in both his junior and senior years, leading the Fox River Valley conference in rushing. He played under legendary East High and former Packers’ top assistant coach, Tom Hearden, whom he viewed as a substitute father figure.
Besides playing football, Al lettered in baseball and was an outstanding basketball player. He was also a champion pole vaulter, and placed second at the 1940 state high school track meet. Al went on to the University of Wisconsin, where his football coach was the former quarterback of Notre Dame’s fabled Four Horsemen, Harry Stuhldreher. When World War II broke out, Al joined the Army Air Corps, and spent most of the time in the Pacific Theater as a medic and physician’s surgical assistant.
Back from the war in 1946, Al was named the most valuable player on the Badgers’ JV squad. He joined Coach Stuhldreher’s Wisconsin football staff in 1947. Al’s coaching lineage was notable now, with two Hall of Fame coaches (Hearden and Stuhldreher) having served as his mentors. It was time for Coach Al to head a program of his own.
In a coaching career that spanned the following 25 seasons, Al Mancheski won multiple accolades as a great motivator. He was considered an innovator in his time, and among the first to implement weight training for high school players. He also taught his players “vision/quickness” training, and supplied them with contact lenses in lieu of glasses while playing. His teams at Sturgeon Bay won championships in 1948 – 50, and 1958 – 59, at one point going 20 – 1.
Al took over the reins at his Green Bay East alma mater in 1960 – 68, where his undefeated team won the Fox River Valley Conference championship in 1965. The Red Devils earned the state’s highest rankings in both the AP and UPI polls. That same year, Coach Al was named the Wisconsin Football Coach of the Year. He also won the Fox Cities Sports Award. His COTY award was presented by college football legend, Woody Hayes.
After leaving East High to devote time to his growing optometric practice, Al remained an assistant coach at Premontre High School for the next five years. He afterwards served as a long-time member of the WISAA Football Championship Selection Committee. In 1965, Al was honored as a charter member of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
A lifelong Packers and Badgers fan, Al often told stories of practicing on the East High field while Curly Lambeau’s Packers warmed up outside the Old City Stadium fence. The fact that Al’s long-time mentor and friend, Tom Hearden, played and coached with Curly Lambeau, allowed Al into the Packers’ inner circle. When Hearden was nearly named the team’s head coach for the 1958 season, he assured Al that he’d place him as an assistant on his new Packers coaching staff.
In his later years, having retiring from coaching as well as his optometry practice, Al turned to book authorship. He conveyed his personal story about Tom Hearden’s life to his son, Janson, and together they co-authored the novel Shoot For the Stars – The Tom Hearden Story. It tells the remarkable tale of one man’s life in football, much the same way Al’s own story reads. The book has received rave reviews since it's publication in 2015, and is considered by football and non-sports fans alike as one of the finest sports-themed novels ever written.
Al is survived by his wife, the former Dawn Marie Trask, whom he married in 1951; his sons Janson, Mark, and Randall, all of Green Bay, daughters Nancy (DeCleene) and Amy (King), along with grandchildren Chase and Somer (DeCleene).
A funeral has been scheduled for 10 A.M. Monday at St. Mary of the Angels church.