Dan Domach was simply the game supervisor for a contest between two teams that did not hail from his own school, but he was swelling with pride, anyway.
The Waukesha South athletics director, who will retire after 20 years as an administrator in the district after the current school year, was hosting Waukesha North and Greendale in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal last year.
Dressed in white shirts broadcasting support for North, representatives from the three public schools in Waukesha – South, North and West – came to the game and stood united and indistinguishable in the stands.
"I was so proud of all three schools, really proud of our kids," Domach said. "I think it was something that doesn't happen a lot of times. When they play against each other, those are really fun games to watch because no matter what the records are between the three schools, you don't know what the final score is going to be. For that particular game, it was really special."
It comes as no surprise that Domach has had a hand in fostering that community spirit on several levels. Even this week, he'll attend WIAA meetings and once again go to bat for South and North as they try to rectify the competitive imbalance his schools face in the talent-heavy Classic 8.
He's spearheaded an effort to put South sports teams in the community for service projects, he's established early communication with families by instituting a program to meet freshman parents, and he's established a coach's Wall of Fame as the next step in honoring the rich history in the building.
Throw in his duties as an administrator and overseer of athletics at South, and the time has come for a much-needed break.
"I kind of kept track amount of nights I've been in the building," he said. "It's been over 100 a year for the past 20 years. I kind of just want to go home and have dinner with my wife (Denise) and take her out to a movie."
Bringing home hardware
Domach has been part of the Waukesha community for 35 years, starting as a marketing teacher and DECA supervisor at North in the early 1980s. He coached North boys basketball as a freshman, JV and varsity assistant coach, then switched to the girls side in 1991-92, where he led the squad for four years.
In his first year, North went 14-0 in conference, reeling in the only conference basketball title – boys or girls – in school history. Two years later, he led North to the only state-tournament appearance in school history for either side. Members of his staff included current Catholic Memorial principal Bob Hall and another retiring principal in the district, Mark Wegner of Horning Middle School.
He moved into the athletics director's chair in 1996-97 and, after 12 years, switched to the same capacity at South, where he has spent the previous eight years.
He and Denise have five children, including four who live outside the area. The time off will give him a chance to spend time with his first grandchild, born in September, and the second one scheduled to arrive this September.
When he packs up his desk, he'll have one prestigious keepsake from his final year on the job. Domach has been named District VII Athletic Director of the Year, an award process that began with a peer nomination.
"It's a pretty special award," he said, adding that the recommendation came from North AD Brian Schlei, West AD Kyle LeMieux and Pewaukee AD John Maltsch, a former colleague and fellow marketing teacher. "Our district is made up of Milwaukee, Tosa, West Allis, the North Shore … when you think of all that's going on there, to be voted on by my peers is pretty special."
Domach said the wheels have begun to spin on the establishment of an athletics Hall of Fame at South, which already has a Wall of Fame for general accomplishments and coaches.
"I think about the people we have on the (coaches) wall so far, and it's amazing," Domach said. "Plaques in this building have been named after a lot of those people. I love learning more about this type of stuff."
He was part of the movement that brought artificial field turf to the three football fields at the public schools, a project led by Waukesha Director of Facilities and Grounds, Glen Norder. Domach's role became more critical when both North and West changed athletics directors during the campaign.
When he first became an AD, Domach created a system that centralized the various paperwork requirements students needed before participating in athletics, and he began a series of meetings with freshman parents to maintain a dialogue with his office. The community-service project has led numerous South teams into the community, from raking leaves to collecting canned goods.
This past year, Schlei and Domach have been vocal about their schools' preference to leave the Classic 8 in its current construction. Southeastern Wisconsin conference realignment was slated to be a hot topic again at the April 20 Annual Meeting. Domach said he's disappointed with how the Board of Control has reacted, establishing new models that keep the Waukesha schools together in the Classic 8 and even adds Oconomowoc, a school of 1,600 with a growing enrollment and improving athletics programs.
"At these Board of Control meetings, other athletic directors have stood up at the meetings and said the only two schools you're not helping are Waukesha North and Waukesha South," Domach said. "It's been very disappointing. We've given them data, we've given them numbers, we've given them everything we can to make them understand that our athletes in Waukesha need a different location to be able to compete in. We're not trying to run away from the conference. Waukesha is different than when (the Classic 8) started 20 years ago … the city of Waukesha has changed the past 20 years and it will continue to change. It's very difficult for us to get a foothold in the Classic 8."
South has had limited success, particularly with a girls swimming program that hauled in three consecutive state championships from 2011-2013. Bill Prochniewski won a state wrestling title in 2013, and the boys tennis team reached state in 2010 and 2014. But particularly in basketball and football, South has been unable to compete with its successful Lake Country counterparts, as well as West.
"I've watched over the years at North and South and we'll have great starters, and as soon as an injury occurs, or as soon as a student makes a poor decision, those kids peel off and can't play any longer … it used to be that North had the backups, and they just don't have the backups at this point in time."
Even if no changes are made in the immediate future, Domach has left a legacy that will endure. Current Brookfield Central athletics director Todd Sobrilsky will step into the position next fall.