What started out as a social breakfast date with four guys from the former Waukesha High School sports program has turned into a huge weekly gathering. Sometimes such sudden growth can be a negative, but that couldn't be further away from the truth for Blackshirt Breakfast Group.
The Blackshirt Breakfast Group welcomes just about anyone involved with the history of Waukesha High School. The club meets every Friday morning at the Sunset View Restaurant in Waukesha at 8:30 a.m., and those in attendance talk about sports and anything else that comes up. About 95 percent of the conversation centers on their experiences at good old Waukesha High - prom dates, football or basketball games, former teachers or the cars they drove to school.
Anyone is invited, former Blackshirts or not. The group is about having fun.
"It started out as just four of five or us going out to breakfast one morning," said Mike Galles, class of 1961, one of two men who got the Blackshirt Breakfast Club going. "From there, it just took off. Pretty soon we had 10 people at breakfast and then it grew to around 20. A couple of weeks ago we had a our best turnout ever when 60 people showed up the day the club honored (former standout boys swim coach) Phil Cibik. We're having a lot of fun with it, and I know everyone is enjoying it."
Galles teamed up with Dan Steffen ('61) back in April of 2009, and the pair also got some help from Dave Mickler ('64) to get things started.
"Right now the group is all about reconnecting with each other, whether it's former classmates, friends or even brothers and sisters of former classmates and neighbors," Steffen said. "It's positive conversation all the time. We try and keep politics out of it, and we don't do any fundraising. It's just a meeting of friends, classmates, teachers and coaches."
The Blackshirt Breakfast Group started innocently enough one morning in April, 2009. That day, Galles, Steffen and former Waukesha coaches Ken Hollub and Don Marks met for breakfast. The main purpose of the breakfast was to get Hollub, the former successful football coach at Waukesha High, out of the house. Hollub had just undergone open heart surgery and he needed a change of scenery
"I called Kenny's wife and told her we wanted to take Kenny out for breakfast, and she thought it was a great idea," Steffen said. "While we were having breakfast that day at Sunset View, all kinds of people recognized Kenny and stopped over to say hi and wish him well. When we took him to breakfast a second time, a few other former players of his joined us. And that's how it started. It just grew and grew by the week. It's really turned into something special. Our goal is to honor former coaches and teachers and have some fun with it. Right now we have men and women taking part every Friday. It's been a fun experience for everyone."
The group has become so popular that Galles produces a weekly newsletter via email and has 250 people receiving it every week.
"Its amazing how much response I get to the newsletter," Galles said. "The other day, Jon Traber and Phil Blackstone got to see each other for the first time since graduation. That was kind of neat. When they were in high school, they lived across the street from each other. I write about stuff, and we take a lot of pictures and post them as well. The response has been incredible. The neatest thing is the reconnecting that people experience. That's what the group is all about."
The group meets every Friday, and the gathering has exceeded 40 individuals on four occasions.
"The group has been getting bigger and bigger each month," Galles said. "Some weeks we have a lot more people show up. But we have a good nucleus of people who are there just about every week. We've got some special dates coming up for the reunions of the classes of 1960 and 1970. That should be fun."
For more information about the group, call Steffen at (262) 844-9395 or Galles at (262) 442-4117.
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