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Cheesemakers remember ‘Coach G’
Eight years as football coach, but an impact to last eternity
Toby G 100
Monroe football coach Toby Golembiewski reached his 100th career win during the 2021 playoffs at Whitnall. A year later, he led the Cheesemakers to their first state championship in nearly 30 seasons. - photo by Adam Krebs

By Natalie Dillon and Adam Krebs

The Monroe Times

MONROE — Cheesemaker fans and program alumni are mourning the loss of head coach Toby Golembiewski. The husband and father of two, “Coach G”, died on Father’s Day, June 16, after an 18-month battle with colon cancer.

Golembiewski, 56, took over the fledgling Monroe football program in 2016, and immediately the team returned to prominence — a feared wrecking ball across southern Wisconsin. In 2022, the program won its sixth state championship, capping an unbeaten season.

“He was the first hire — and the most important hire — of my career. Definitely hit a home run; a grand slam,” Monroe Athletic Director Jeff Newcomer said. “When I started in mid-January 2016, my first big job was to hire a new football coach. I had been a part of the football program as a player, and I know what football means to this community. We had a nationwide search, literally, with applicants coming in from across the country. Toby stood out above them all. I had never met him, but I had heard things about him. He lived up to it all — above and beyond, actually.”

He was the first hire — and the most important hire — of my career. Definitely hit a home run; a grand slam.
Monroe Athletic Director Jeff Newcomer

When the final whistle blew at Camp Randall Stadium on that cold November day in 2022, Cheesemaker players celebrated at midfield. Coach G, though, turned to the south side of his sideline, where his father, Jerry Golembiewski — a Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer — stood taking pictures, just as he had for years. The father and son embraced in a prideful hug, with smiles ear-to-ear. 

“It was so cool to have him along for it. He’s from a different era of coaching, and he was with teams that didn’t always have great success — there were a couple of conference championships and playoffs, but this had to be really something for him, too, to be on this ride,” Toby said at the time.

Giving Back

In December 2022, shortly after experiencing the high of winning the WIAA Division 3 state title, Toby hit a low and was diagnosed with colon cancer. The disease would spread to his lymph nodes and liver, forcing a series of chemo treatments. Although scans and blood work showed the tumor in remission as summer faded to fall, he switched treatments during the 2023 football season. The change left him with little energy, but Coach G remained on the sidelines.

TR holyoke cross
Assistant coach Tom Witt installed a cross and memoriam at the 3-yard-line by the north end zone at T.R. Holyoke on June 16. “It’s where we went for 2,” Witt said, referring to the game-winning play that defeated Pewaukee in 2022, which catapulted Monroe to an unbeaten state championship season. - photo by Natalie Dillon

“During his battle with cancer, football and the players were his medicine. It gave him energy,” assistant coach Tom Witt said. “Just days before his passing, he was still mentoring me and talking some football. He was more concerned about me and the players than he was about himself.”

But that’s how Toby always operated. For many seasons, he and Monroe football raised money for cancer research, as Toby had lost a sister-in-law to cancer and his mother, Kathleen, is a cancer survivor. Just this past fall, Coach G and the team donated $5,500 to Justice for a Cure through discount card and T-shirt sales. The act didn’t go unnoticed, as Coach G was recognized as the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week Sept. 27, 2023.

“I think the most inspirational feat comes outside of the game of football,” 2023 graduate and Navy guard Isaac Bunker said. “Through my years at MHS, I have seen Coach G raise thousands of dollars for cancer research, as well as starting a scholarship to give back to graduating students. He was always finding ways to give back to our community. He was one of my biggest role models, and shaped me into the man I am today.”

Through my years at MHS, I have seen Coach G raise thousands of dollars for cancer research, as well as starting a scholarship to give back to graduating students. He was always finding ways to give back to our community. He was one of my biggest role models, and shaped me into the man I am today.
Isaac Bunker, 2023 MHS graduate and Navy guard

In return, the Monroe community had Coach G’s back. Since learning of his diagnosis, Cheesemaker fans have donated money to the Golembiewski family — wife Jody, son Max, and daughter Sophie — through Miracle Minutes and silent auctions at football and softball games. 

In spring 2023, Monroe softball — of which Sophie is a member — played for Toby in their annual Strike Out Cancer tournament. The event, which has been going on for 10 years, raises money for community members that passed away from or are currently suffering with cancer. 

“There are a lot of great people praying, checking in and helping out,” Toby said during the 2023 Strike Out Cancer tournament. “Everyone is willing to do something. It’s a really special thing to have this type of community around you.” 

In Week 3 of the 2023 football season, the Monroe community raised $4,014 through a Miracle Minute and silent auction of wreaths made by Family and Consumer Science teacher Melody Loeffelholz. Justice for a Cure, an organization that Coach G had donated to in the past, also gave back $500. That night, the Cheesemakers picked up a 59-7 win over McFarland. More importantly, it was a win for Coach G.

“Deep down, we knew this was for Coach G tonight,” senior Brady Wyss said in a post-game interview that night. “Being able to do that for him feels great. He’s always had our backs and we showed that we have his back.” 

Assistant coach Eric Losenegger made several trips to T.R. Holyoke Field on June 16, the day Coach Golembiewski died, to remember his close friend. - photo by Natalie Dillon

Experienced, Loose and a Play-Calling Mastermind

Toby Golembiewski reached the 100-win mark in 2021. He had 26 years of coaching experience prior to coming to Monroe. He had coached European semi-pro, youth football and was the head coach at Orangeville for 16 years. He later coached his son, Max, a 2020 graduate, for four years. 

His travels meant he was full of stories, and he would regale his players and assistants often as a tactic to keep things loose.

“He shared so many unbelievable stories with me — many of which I’m still not sure if they were factual or not,” said Matt Busjahn, a 2006 Orangeville grad. “Coach G always had a larger-than-life personality that was infectious to be around. I haven’t met another person like him, and I don’t think I ever will. He wasn’t just my teacher or coach, he was always my friend.”

Busjahn’s teammate, Adam Scherer, also a 2006 OHS grad, said practice was never boring with Coach G.

“From duck calls for his practice whistle to chucking footballs at geese flying over the practice field, there was never a dull moment when he was around,” Scherer said. “Late night hunting adventures in high school to just sitting in the gym talking before basketball practice this winter. He was always fun to be around and you never knew what he would say or where his stories were going, but you’d be laughing before long.”

From duck calls for his practice whistle to chucking footballs at geese flying over the practice field, there was never a dull moment when he was around.
Adam Scherer, Orangeville graduate

Monroe assistant coach Shawn Paulson called Coach G “the most quick-witted person” he’d ever met, with the greatest one-liners to follow up.

“The stories, laughs, jokes, late night texts, and messages are unforgettable — many I cannot mention,” Paulson said. “... Just keeping everyone on their toes with a joke. We were all so lucky to have Coach G be a part of our lives. I speak for many when I say he will be deeply missed by all who had the opportunity to be in his presence. Our community as well as the Orangeville community has lost a great mentor, leader, and champion, but most of all they lost a wonderful human being who put others before him.”

Newcomer said Coach G had a way to communicate that was unlike so many other leaders and coaches he had been around. 

“He just put things in a way that made sense for people to understand — in a blue-collar way,” Newcomer said. “The positive impact he’s made and the lives he’s changed in eight years — some people don’t make that in a lifetime. He’s touched so many lives in so many different ways.”

Newcomer’s assessment was echoed by other former players, like Cael Losenegger, a 2020 MHS grad. 

“While Coach G’s impact on the football field was tremendous, the way he influenced and affected the lives of his players was far more substantial,” Losenegger said. Cael worked his way up the depth chart through the years as a blocking wide receiver. His father, Eric Losenegger, was one of Coach G’s assistants. “Over the past four years since I’ve graduated high school, I’ve wrote numerous scholarship essays and answered numerous icebreaker questions by talking about how Coach G is my biggest role model; how his approach on life changed my life.”

coach g, max, cael
Coach Golembiewski discusses offensive play calls with Cael Losenegger (11) and Toby’s son, Max Golembiewski (4) during the 2019 playoffs. - photo by Adam Krebs

Legendary Monroe coach Pat Martin, a Wisconsin Football Hall of Fame coach, had a 217-82 record (.725) and five state titles in 29 seasons with the Cheesemakers. Between the retirement of Martin in 2003 and Coach G’s takeover of the program, Monroe went a dismal 32-76 (.296) during a 12-year stretch. The Cheesemakers were playoff eligible just twice in that time frame with only one postseason appearance. Monroe also didn’t have a winning record in any season during that time under head coaches Witt and Curt Miller.

When Witt vacated the head coaching spot after the 2007 season, Miller took over and Witt returned as an assistant coach. Miller left his post and moved elsewhere after the 2015 season. Witt — and the rest of the coaching staff — stayed on board when Golembiewski took the reins to maintain a sense of continuity. 

Coach G would say multiple times during the 2016 season that his team had simply “caught lightning in a bottle.” Monroe jumped out of the gates, winning 11 straight games to open the season before a playoff loss in Level 3 to Pewaukee — a program that would soon become an unofficial rival of Monroe’s.

Arguably the biggest difference in change from losing to winning came on the X’s and O’s. Coach G brought the Wing-T offense, a stark change from the spread and pistol that the Cheesemakers tried in the previous decade-plus. The offense was foreign to much of the Badger Conference, and the strong, fast and ready-to-play roster woke up the region like gangbusters.

While Coach G’s impact on the football field was tremendous, the way he influenced and affected the lives of his players was far more substantial.
Cael Losenegger, Monroe graduate

During Coach G’s eight years in Monroe, the program often led or finished near the top of the conference (and state) in rushing yards. During the 2022 state championship season, Monroe set the record for most yards of rushing (5,524) and total offense (6,121) in a season, including a blistering average of 394.5 yards rushing per game. His teams were 63-24 (.724) in those eight seasons.

“Coach Golembiewski was a football mastermind. More specifically, he was a genius when it came to calling the Wing-T offense,” Cael Losenegger said. “When Coach G brought the Wing-T to Monroe in 2016, many people called it ‘boring’ or ‘too old-school.’ Perhaps it was a touch archaic. It made us dominant. Coach G’s grasp of the Wing-T was simply brilliant. Manipulating opposing defenses with it was like a game inside a game for him. It put a smile on his face like few other things.”

Overcoming Pewaukee

Monroe lost to the Pirates at home in Level 3 in 2016 by a single score — and that game was played virtually without the Cheesemakers’ top two running backs. In 2021, Monroe stormed into Level 4 to face Pewaukee yet again. A meltdown in the second half turned a 14-point advantage into a 14-point loss.

The next year, Monroe had one goal — one job. The senior class upped the offseason workouts and went about their business in the regular season. In Level 2 of the playoffs, Pewaukee returned to T.R. Holyoke field.

The Pirates again used a late comeback in the second half to put Monroe on its heels. But Golembiewski called a string of passing plays that were executed perfectly, with quarterback George Brukwicki connecting with wideout Drew Indergand in the end zone to make it a 1-point game with just seconds to play.

coach g dad state
Monroe football coach Toby Golembiewski hugs his father, Jerry, after winning the 2022 WIAA Division 3 state football championship. - photo by Adam Krebs

Indergand signaled for “two” on his way back to the huddle. Coach G obliged and the Cheesemakers ran a play put in just days before, with Brukwicki scoring to cap the win.

“Staying an hour after our Coaches Show on a Saturday morning,” Mike Zweifel of Big Radio said, “he used different props to explain how they were able to defeat Pewaukee in the thrilling 2022 playoff game.”

Zweifel said it was a privilege to work with Coach G for the better part of eight years on the radio.

“It was not uncommon during the months of August through late October or in 2022 mid-November to communicate with as much or more than my own family in preparation for Cheesemaker football games and Coach Golembiewski Show on WEKZ,” Zweifel said. “I am forever grateful for the time I got to spend with Coach G and both his family and the Monroe Football family. (It’s) so hard to put words on what he meant to so many, especially us in local media.”

An Impact on the Community

“Did Coach G change football in Monroe for the better? Absolutely,” Cael Losenegger said. “But did Coach G change the community of Monroe for the better? Way, way, way, way more. I’m confident his impact will never stop being felt.”

Staying an hour after our Coaches Show on a Saturday morning, he used different props to explain how they were able to defeat Pewaukee in the thrilling 2022 playoff game.
Mike Zweifel, Big Radio

Upon learning of his passing the morning of June 16, the Monroe community instantly showed its love and sorrow. Flowers were attached to the north end zone goal post and Witt — along with his son Alex, a player under Coach G from 2017 to 2020, and daughter Katie — hammered a cross into the field at the 3-yard line because “that’s where we went for two.”

“Toby meant everything to me and the Monroe football program,” Witt said. “This fall will be my 30th season coaching high school football — 27th in Monroe. I have been very fortunate and blessed to have played for and coached with six Hall of Fame coaches, and Toby is the most creative run game coach I have coached with. He was the mastermind of the Wing-T run game.  It didn’t matter what you did defensively, as long as the players executed he was always going to call plays that would put our players in the best position to succeed.”

Paulson said it was tough to put into words how he felt upon hearing of Coach G’s death. “Simply put, it was an honor to work alongside Coach G as an assistant. He offered the game, our staff, and the student-athletes so much more than football. Life lessons, guidance, and answers to life’s simple and complex questions were a part of everyday life under Coach G’s leadership.”

As news of Golembiewski’s death spread on Father’s Day, reactions came in from across the region.

Monroe assistant coach Rob Schilt said on social media that Friday nights just won’t be the same. 

“You were one of the best leaders, teachers and storytellers I have had the pleasure to be around. You will be greatly missed,” Schilt said.

Dylan Wittman, Monroe’s former Athletic Trainer said Toby was “a big part of my time at MHS” and that his “conversations and outlook on life will truly be missed by our community.”