Kryka named Middleton's interim A.D.

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Mark Kryka, Verona’s athletic director for more than 30 years, has come out of retirement to become Middleton’s interim athletic director.

Mark Kryka’s retirement didn’t last long.

Kryka, Verona High School’s athletic director from 1989-2019, retired at the end of last school year. But with Middleton athletic director Bob Joers battling pancreatic cancer, Kryka recently agreed to become the Cardinals’ interim A.D.

Kryka is under contract to work 92 days between now and the end of the school year. Joers, who has been working limited hours since being diagnosed last fall, will continue in a reduced role.

“I was not looking to go back to work,” Kryka said. “But I had to do it for Bob.”

Kryka enjoyed a long and extremely successful run at Verona.

He was named the Big Eight Conference’s athletic director of the year in 2016, then was selected as the state’s 2016 A.D. of the year at the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association meeting.

Kryka was also one of nine individuals honored as recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Service Awards from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

“So it’s a little weird wearing Middleton colors,” Kryka joked.

Kryka was a three-sport athlete in Antigo and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976. Kryka tore his rotator cuff in 1977, though, and was out of baseball altogether two years later.

Kryka earned his teaching degree at UW-La Crosse and came to Verona as a physical education teacher in 1983, He then became the Wildcats’ A.D. when the position opened up in 1989.

During Kryka’s time as Verona’s A.D., the Wildcats won 15 state titles in boys and girls cross country, boys and girls track, boys and girls swimming, girls soccer, girls basketball, girls golf and hockey.

Kryka, 62, was spending more time with his grandchildren in retirement. But with Joers cutting his workload, Kryka stepped in.

“Bob’s still coming in, probably more than he should,” Kryka said. “I’m pretty much full time, so I’m trying to convince him to stay away and get healthy.”

Joers began an aggressive cancer treatment last November in which he’s undergoing chemotherapy every two weeks for a six-month stretch. The goal is to shrink the tumor to the point where it’s operable. 

If things go well, Joers would undergo surgery this spring.

In the interim, Middleton’s athletic department should be in good hands with both Kryka and Joers leading the way.

“It’s been kind of nice getting back into it,” Kryka said. “Bob has everything extremely well-organized, so things should keep running efficiently. And I’ve been through this many, many years, so I’m happy to be helping out.”

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