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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stay busy to remain young

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leo Hupke comes with his reliable pickup loaded with all the supplies to take care of his MMC junior high track team's needs. Hupke even has all of their drinking water containers filled so time isn't wasted, leaving more time for improving the youngsters' skills. Photo by Nancy Hohbach
After 32 years of teaching and coaching in Cherokee, Leo Hupke was ready to retire. At least, that's what he thought. Born and raised in a large family, eight siblings, in Sioux City, he credits his older siblings for making his life easier. Hupke is the baby in his family.

After marrying his wife Kathy 47 years ago, they made their home in Cherokee, where they raised four children- three boys and a daughter. From that, the family has expanded and they now have eight grandchildren. Family is all important to Hupke, and he maintained that value while teaching and coaching other children in the area. It is a love of Hupke to try to get the best out of kids regardless of where he sees the starting point.

Hupke commented that he really didn't give much thought as to what retirement would be like. He just thought it was time to hang it up and slow down some. He slowed down some as everyone eventually does. '"Eventually I faced some surgeries--- ankles, knee and shoulder. It took time to recuperate and limited what I could do for a while. But after I had been retired a short while a reporter asked if I would want to do some coaching as he knew a school, MMC, that needed a high school football coach but there wasn't a classroom position to go with it. Would I be interested? Yes, why not? So for two years I did that before I face yet another surgery. Since that time, I have helped coached various MMC junior high sports, girls and boys plus substitute taught in the classrooms. I have done both girls and boys in all sports. I rotate to whatever is needed to fill in the gaps. For instance, sometimes I just think it is a good idea for whoever is working with one team in the seventh grade basketball to carry on by coaching them in eighth grade as well. The rotation system is good. I was asked to take on girl's track this year for both seventh and eighth. I have a sport to coach for every season. In the summer, I coached the MMC high school girls' softball team," said Hupke.

As Hupke talks, it doesn't take long to realize he has his heart into giving his all to any student that comes into his coaching realm. It is all about the kids.

"My greatest pleasure is seeing where I start with each kid and watching them grow and change for the good. I think there are many retired folks who have a number of skills and information that they can pass along to students to enrich their lives. Much can be offered to them from older folks like myself. It's better to be active than sitting around doing nothing. After living a good number of years experiencing life, you can share that with kids," said Hupke.

The community has noticed the positive impact he has made on MMC students as the Hupkes show up at all kinds of MMC events. Many noticed that the Hupkes have adopted MMC, as their acquaintance with the school has grown.

As far as hobbies go, Hupke was quick to point out that he can do minor home repairs, but prefers not to do plumbing and electrical for obvious reasons. He can cook if need be and Hupke said, "I won't starve".

In short, he recommends that one stay busy to get more out of life.

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