Caitie Ratkowski, Ryan Walz are coaches of the year at Milwaukee High School Sports Awards

Milwaukee High School Sports Awards main graphic 2024
Milwaukee High School Sports Awards main graphic 2024

Divine Savior Holy Angels girls volleyball coach Caitie Ratkowski and Wisconsin Lutheran boys basketball coach Ryan Walz were named coaches of the year Friday at the Milwaukee High School Sports Awards show, presented by Festival Foods.

In all, 37 awards were handed out at the show, which honored athletes, coaches and teams from the entire area. Festival Foods also sponsors the Coach of the Year awards.

Ratkowski led the Dashers to back-to-back Division 1 state volleyball championships. The powerhouse Dashers went 47-1 last fall on their way to the program’s fifth gold ball, defeating Oconomowoc in another epic five-set classic. The 47 victories were the most by a Division 1 champion in more than 20 seasons. Four of Ratkowski's players were named to the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association first or second teams, including girls volleyball player of the year recipient Sophia Wendlick. This past fall marked the fourth gold ball earned in Ratkowski’s career, as she also helped lead the Dashers to their first gold ball as a player in 2001.

In his 16th season at the helm for the Vikings, Walz faced a multitude of challenges, including replacing four starters, injuries to key contributors and a schedule loaded with talented teams. How he and the Vikings responded could be summed up in a single word: perfect. The second 30-0 season in WIAA state history included wins over reigning D1 champion De Pere, 2024 D1 runner-up Arrowhead, 2024 D3 state champion St. Thomas More and a sweep of three-time-reigning D2 champion Pewaukee. In the third and final meeting with the Pirates in the D2 title game, the Vikings played their best game of the year to finish a perfect season. Wisco set WIAA state tournament records for team field-goal percentage and assists in the title win, a testament to a coach who pushed his team to catch excellence in the pursuit of perfection.

The Milwaukee High School Sports Awards show is part of the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards, the largest high school sports recognition program in the country. The show was produced with the support of UScellular, Boundless Adventures, Golfweek and USA Today Sports.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ratkowski, Walz are coaches of year at Milwaukee HS Sports Awards