SMALL TOWNS: Winneconne’s national anthem singers

How to sing the national anthem? In Winneconne they know best!
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 2:38 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Over the last few weeks, boys and girls high school basketball teams have been crowned state champions.

While one local team fell short of that goal, its senior class left a legacy in their community.

This week in Small Towns, we travel to Winneconne, home of the national anthem singers.

It’s a special evening at Winneconne High School, as three Lady Wolves, Jamie Wicinsky, Leah Krohn and Joey Perry, are honored on Senior Night.

And while the wins and losses these girls have been a part of will fade over time, a tradition they started and have carried on before tip-off, will be remembered in their town for years.

At the start of their sophomore year, Covid restrictions meant only parents in the stands.

No students, no band, no choir, no national anthem.

“And all of a sudden we all looked at each other and the girls looked back at me and said coach, can we sing, and the next thing you know the team is singing and the tradition has carried on, every time we come home, we sing it for the fans,” explains Winneconne Head Coach Andrea Flease.

“It’s just kind of a funny team thing to talk about and with Covid and everything no one was really singing the national anthem and it was just a recording, and we’re like well let’s just do it,” says senior Jamie Wicinsky.

And they haven’t stopped, singing the anthem at every home game, and a few on the road, over the last three years.

Make no mistake though, this is a basketball team, not a choir.

“There’s never been any rehearsals, we always go out there and sing,” says senior Leah Krohn.

All of her teammates and coach though, say thank goodness for Leah.

“We have one really stellar singer and everybody else just does their best and I think what I find so special about it, that they’re not all-star singers but yet they sing it and they’re proud to sing it,” says Coach Flease.

“She’s got, I don’t know it if it’s the harmony and we got the melody, or the other way around, whatever,” adds Jamie.

Once the girls started singing the anthem, it didn’t take long for word of their pre-game custom to spread throughout the community.

“And they’re like did your girls really sing the national anthem, I was like yep, the game outcome might not have been how we wanted it, but they crushed the national anthem,” says Coach Flease with a chuckle,

“My elementary school music teacher taught us that when you sing the national anthem, like when the national anthem is being sung at a sporting event, you’re supposed to stand, you supposed to remove your hat and one of the big things is you’re supposed to sing along, but most people don’t know that one, so I think it’s a good way to remind people of that,” says Leah.

On the court, the Winneconne Wolves finished off a solid season with a 13-12 record.

But now, with the sun setting on this small, but special senior class, the question remains.

Will the national anthem tradition continue?

“They’re goofballs, so any time they can have some fun they take advantage of it, and this is one of those special things they have brought upon us and we’ll see how far it goes without some of the star singers leaving this year,” says Coach Flease.

“I hope that the tradition continues past obviously when we leave, but we’ll see, after they lose Leah, I don’t know how it will go,” wonders senior Joey Perry.

“It’s not about being a good singer, it’s about doing this because I think out community enjoys it and I think deep down all of them enjoy singing it,” says Leah with a smile.