Stoughton High School on Friday, June 26, announced its hires for five varsity head coaching positions.
Jason Becker was promoted to head football coach, and former girls track and field coach Nate Nelson will transition to coaching boys track and field while girls cross country coach Susan Zaemisch will step into Nelson’s previous role. Seth Petersen is the new girls golf coach and Justin Packard is the new girls soccer coach.
Becker, 39, is a special education teacher at SHS with an experienced coaching history on the gridiron. The Rio native served as an assistant coach at Nekoosa before taking over as head coach for three seasons from 2013 through 2015.
Becker came to Stoughton in 2016 as an assistant on Dan Prahl’s staff and was an associate head coach and offensive coordinator the past two seasons. He is also an assistant with the Stoughton wrestling team.
“I’m beyond excited,” Becker said. “I think so many people are focused on the good players we have returning, and I’m really excited for some other guys who had good seasons at the JV level last year competing to replace the guys we lost.”
Stoughton averaged 389 yards of offense and 33.5 points per game last season under Becker’s direction. The Vikings will have to replace some key pieces, particularly under center after the graduation of reigning Badger South Conference Offensive Player of the Year Adam Hobson.
“The only changes you’ll see will be based on personnel,” Becker said. “We’ll have a quarterback competition to see who replaces Hobson. There are four guys competing who bring different strengths to the table. Whoever wins that might dictate our pass-run balance, but the scheme will likely look the same.”
Nelson, 45, is in his 13th year of coaching and succeeds Trevor Kramolis, who left Stoughton to be a teacher and coach at Onalaska. He led the Stoughton girls track and program in 2019 in addition to being a social studies teacher at the high school.
“I started as a pole vault coach, then was the boys coach for four years, then became an assistant and finally the girls coach in 2019. I’m kind of the utility guy,” Nelson said. “It’s super helpful being a teacher because we can recruit kids and develop connections inside and outside of the classroom, so I think the transition will be pretty smooth.”
Zaemisch added onto an already busy teaching and coaching career within the Stoughton Area School District. She teaches at River Bluff Middle School and will now coach a sport in every season – girls cross country in the fall, girls basketball (assistant) in the winter and girls track and field in the spring.
Petersen, 36, succeeds Stephen Stokes and is familiar with the girls golf program’s top returning player. In addition to his wife being a Stoughton native, he is the uncle of Caylie Kotlowski.
“I’m going to bring a wealth of knowledge about the game and a passion for the game,” he said. “I hope to translate the passion I have for the game onto the younger generation.”
Petersen played golf for his father at Madison Abundant Life Christian School in Madison and continued his career at Madison College. He currently handles real estate sales and title insurance as the general manager at Badger Title Company in Fitchburg.
Both soccer programs at Stoughton will have new head coaches in 2020-21 after Michael McIntosh stepped down as the boys and girls coach. Robert Murphy will coach the boys in the fall and Packard – a former boys varsity co-coach and assistant at SHS – will coach the girls in the spring.
“I’d like to run a system that’s a little more attack-minded,” Packard said. “I’m one of those coaches that’d rather win a match 3-2 than 1-0.”