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Marquette County is a place where the community members are increasingly involved, healthy and successful.

Latest News


Westfield  Schools have drop in code violations since start of Life of an Athlete program


Since the inception of the “Life of an Athlete” program two years ago at Westfield Area High School, there has been a double-digit drop in co-curricular violations by the entire student population. 

Each fall the district requires student athletes and their parents to attend a mandatory meeting, part of which incorporates the “Life of an Athlete” message on the effects of drugs, alcohol, nutrition and sleep on the bodies of young adults.

Sandy Vogel, Westfield Community Liason for Healthy Communities Healthy Youth, stated, “I am very excited that Athletic Director Sam Rugg has taken the lead on the program.” She then spoke about the alcohol component of the program. “It is a hard fight because the culture says that drinking is a rite of passage, but the research shows how different a teen brain is compared to an adult brain. It is information that my generation didn’t have in high school, so changing the culture starts with taking ownership of the newest information to help our children benefit.”

She continued by saying, “If all high school students could make the choice to wait to drink and put the effort into training and their education, then that would be a great lesson learned. Alcohol NEVER benefits an athlete, no matter what age, but particularly hurts a teen. Even our high level athletes in the media don’t seem to get that message, so it feels like an uphill battle to help our teens see this. But the effort is worth it to see our athletes make better choices and shine.”

In addition to educating the students about the above-mentioned factors that can affect their performance, the school has tweaked their code of conduct, which requires any student with a drug or alcohol violation to take a course on the subject matter. 

The district also updated their co-curricular code by adding an honesty clause.  If a student is truthful during and investigation into an incident, the consequences of their violation are cut in half. 

“We know that kids are going to make mistakes. Our goal isn’t to penalize them, but educate them on what they are putting in their bodies,” said Rugg. “Research shows that one dumb move can ruin two weeks of preparation. The bottom line is, we are trying to keep students safe and prepared for competition.”

Vogel added, “Unfortunately, I still hear people who feel negatively about the athletic code and I think that sometimes it is misinterpreted. The idea is not to ‘catch’ kids who are violating the code, but to give them a reason to not violate the code. Their athletic performance is more important than a night out drinking with friends.”

She also talked about mistakes, “If they do violate the code, the idea is to help them learn to accept the consequences for the mistake and then move on, which is a life lesson. Everyone makes mistakes. Learning from them is optional. Adults should be the safety net to catch them, teach them, and then let it go. Holding the kids accountable and making a violation a teachable moment is key.”

In 2015 Rugg added another component to the program with the formation of a senior student athlete leadership group.  Once a month he meets with the group for breakfast to talk about promoting athletics, how to decrease bad behaviors by students, and how to reach out for extra help.

“It has been going really well,’ said Rugg. “We started with a list of perceived negative rumors. The group then got the truth out to the rest of the students.” The group will expand to juniors and seniors this year and will be made up of students who were recommended by the 2015 graduating seniors. 

All of these efforts are paying off. In the 2012-2013 school year, prior to the Life of an Athlete Program, there were 48 co-curricular violations by both athletes and non-athletes. A violation can range from vandalism to drinking alcohol.  In 2013-2014 that number dropped to 7. During the last school year that number was 12. 

“There has been a change in the culture in the school,” said Rugg. “The students are holding each other accountable for their actions. They were becoming sick and tired of seeing what everybody worked for lost because another teammate made a poor choice.” 

The students wanted to see results for their hard work. “It made them think about what they did on a weekend and how it affected more than just them.”

Rugg shared the story of an incident from his own youth that made a big impact on him. “I was at a party, but I wasn’t drinking. However, just by being at the party I was violating the athletic code. When my dad found out the next day, he made me go to the house of the coach and the house of the principal to tell them what I had done. It was the best thing he could have ever done for me.”

“Nothing feels better to a community than being able to identify with a youth who has had success in high school and goes beyond the boundaries of our county to become a successful adult,” said Vogel. “I feel like the Life of an Athlete program can help make that happen. Buy-in from the parents, students, teachers, coaches, administration, and the community is what really makes a program like Life of an Athlete successful for the students. Everyone has a stake in our youth, so continuing to help and support them s beneficial to the entire community.”


Local tobacco retailer checks expand to include e-cigarettes

Local tobacco retailer checks that make sure stores don’t sell tobacco products to minors are expanding to include e-cigarettes.

The change is being made through the statewide Wisconsin Wins program to address e-cigarettes rising popularity with teens.  The 2014 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey shows 7.9% of our state’s high school students currently use e-cigarettes.  Nationally, in 2013, 4.5% of high school students report currently using e-cigarettes.

The Wisconsin Wins program not only works to keep tobacco out of minor’s hands but also congratulates retailers that make the decision to not sell.  Regular compliance checks are important to make sure that our youth are not easily accessing a product that can addict them and cause negative health effects.

Another area of concern is that e-cigarettes typically come in candy and fruit flavors making them especially appealing to young people. The flavors and products may attract youth and are often perceived as being less harmful than cigarettes.

In 2014, Marquette County had 4 establishments sell products to minors.  This year we are hoping that number will be brought down to zero!

To continue to decrease the number of sales in Marquette County, participating youth perform regular checks through Wisconsin Wins to make sure tobacco retailers aren’t selling tobacco products to minors.  Retailers that pass their checks are thanked by 5 Counties For Tobacco Free Living and Healthy Communities Healthy Youth representatives and participating youth, while retailers that sell to youth are provided with resources to help them avoid future illegal sales and potential fines.

Tobacco retailers in Marquette County can receive free training to avoid underage tobacco and nicotine product sales at  For more on local tobacco prevention and control efforts, contact Lauren Calnin, Health Educator and Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Marquette County Health Department at 608-297-3135.



In Your Community


For more information on Neshkoro Area HCHY activities please contact Tara Chesebro.

Neshkoro news: Welcome Tara Chesebro to HCHY!


For more information on Endeavor Area HCHY activities please contact Sue Allen.

Endeavor News: To join the Endeavor EPIC parent's group, please contact Sue Allen. Bring the kids to play while parents talk.


For more information on Montello Area HCHY activities please contact Tiffany Lodholz.

Montello News: Montello's PIE group meets weekly on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Parents and kids of all ages welcome. Learn more

Marquette County

In 2011, excessive alcohol consumption in Marquette County cost $17.7 million and contributed to at least 154 alcohol-related hospitalizations. View the full report.


For more information on Westfield Area HCHY activities please contact Sandy Vogel.

Westfield News: Westfield implements "Life of an Athlete" program and works to change athletic code. Learn more