ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Looking back on a career that spans 30 years and includes more than 400 career wins means little to retiring head coach Tim Franzini, unless his players learn just one thing.
"Enjoy it," Franzini said. "If they compete and give everything they got, they'll improve, but at the same time too, they have to enjoy it."
Enjoying the game of hockey is why Franzini started coaching the La Crosse Central-Logan team in the 1980s.
Franzini said, "It was probably the next closest thing to playing. I did dabble a little bit, doing some officiating, which was okay. But I really enjoyed coaching a lot better."
Franzini continued enjoying his role as the Onalaska skipper in the 90s where he became the first Mississippi Valley Conference head coach to win a game at the state tournament in a 1995 double overtime classic.
He described the magnitude of that game: "We played Madison Memorial. Back then they were the powerhouse. They probably would be at the state tournament most years and had a number of state championships under their belt. We had the opportunity to open against them. We beat them in double overtime our first time there."
Following any peak is typically a valley. Franzini walked away from the Onalaska coaching job in 2003, and though he left the bench, the love of the game never left him.
"My second year away from it, I missed it. That's when I had this opportunity here to take [the Aquinas-Holmen] program over, and I've really enjoyed it," he said.
His hope is that his players never lose the pure enjoyment that's always driven him--even if it means re-discovering it elsewhere.
Franzini said, "We recommend it to our athletes today to try and be involved in other co-curriculars, not just in hockey."
Because if Franzini wants to leave one lasting impression, it's that success means little if you don't enjoy the ride.
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