Marinette High School Yearbook
Kati Zeratsky of Marinette brings the ball up the court in a game during her junior year.
Marinette High School Yearbook

Kati Zeratsky of Marinette brings the ball up the court in a game during her junior year.

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Editor’s Note: The Marinette High School Athletic Hall of Fame will induct seven new members and one team at a ceremony on Sept. 14 at Little River Country Club. Each Tuesday, the EagleHerald will feature one inductee. Tickets for the HOF banquet are on sale in the Marinette High School Main Office

MARINETTE — When you think of Marinette girls’ athletics in the late 1980s and throughout the ‘90s, names such as Westphal, Oleson, Bolen and Falkenberg are some of the first that come to mind.

Laying the ground work for some of the greatest teams in Marinette history was the hard-working and unselfish play of Kati Zeratsky. For everything she accomplished, Zeratsky will be inducted into the Marinette High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 14.

A graduate in 1992, Zeratsky earned 11 varsity letters throughout her career in tennis, basketball, track and cross country. She accomplished nearly the unthinkable her senior year when she competed in all four sports, while still maintaining high academic standing.

“My parents let me go out for cross country my senior year while I was still playing tennis, just as long as I kept up my grades,” Zeratsky said. “It wasn’t always easy balancing everything, but I had great coaches and a lot of help along the way.”

Zeratsky’s high school career started on the tennis court, where she picked up a racket for the first time. After quickly catching on, she teamed up with Julie Skowlund as the No. 3 doubles team.

Both of their careers blossomed and by the time they were sophomores, they formed a strong No. 1 doubles team that lasted through the next three seasons. By her senior year, Zeratsky helped Marinette win the first-ever Bay Conference championship in tennis, which started what ended up being eight straight conference titles that ranged from 1991-98.

Coached by David Johnson, who would later become the principal at Marinette in the 2000s, it was a fun and relaxing environment that Zeratsky looked forward to throughout the summer while working at the Marinette Civic Center.

“We would play tennis all summer and just get our friends together and it was a lot of fun,” said Zeratsky. “Coach Johnson would drive the bus to all of our meets because he had his license to drive. He was also the ski club adviser and my English teacher. I really enjoyed him as a coach.”

Working her way up the ranks in basketball, Zeratsky became a starter on varsity her junior year and was hard to take off the court her final two years. Known for her defense, she was a very unselfish player, according to Jerry Brown, who was Marinette’s basketball coach for some great teams in the 1990s.

“Kati was a heck of an athlete and just a hard worker,” Brown said. “She was such a good defensive player. We would have her guard the opponents’ best player and never had to worry about her.”

Missy Oleson led the Marines in scoring at 17 points per game during Zeratsky’s senior year and Jenni Westphal was second in scoring at 14 points per game, but Zeratsky was right there as the third-leading scorer. Marinette went to the sectional semifinals that year in Division 2 and would go on to make it to the state tournament in 1993 as well as 1997 in Division 1.

“We had a great team Kati’s senior year and lost to Kimberly by only three points in the sectional semifinals,” said Brown. “We beat a tough Pulaski team twice that year, including a 32-31 victory in a defensive battle. She had a lot of steals in that game and throughout the season. Just a great team player.”

When it came to running, Zeratsky may have been at her best. Competing in array of events, including the 100 and 200 meter sprints along with the 400 and 800, she also had great success in the high and long jump and helped form several strong relay teams.

As a sophomore, Zeratsky went to state in the 400. In her junior year, she was a member of the 4x400 relay team that competed in state and also was a key contributor to Marinette finishes as the Division 1 runners-up at state. 

By the time she was a senior in 1992, Zeratsky once again competed at state for the 4x400 meter relay team and helped the Marines win their first of three straight Division 1 state championships.

For John Sitek, who was Zeratsky’s coach all four years in track and field and who was inducted into the hall of fame last year, he had nothing by high praise for the type of athlete and person Zeratsky was.

“Kati worked hard and she would run and compete in any event you asked her to,” said Sitek. “She was the start of three-straight state championship teams and she had a great combination of speed and endurance.”

That endurance was put to the test in the fall of her senior year when Zeratsky joined the cross country team for the first time in her career, while also starring in tennis.

Running for cross country head coach Mike Leanes, a hall of famer from last year and who also coached her in track and field, Zeratsky somehow found the time to put full practices in for both sports.

“I remember vividly that Kati would come over to my house once her tennis practice was done and I’d give her the workout schedule,” Leanes said. “Practices started before the school year, so she was able to fit both in during the day, but once school started, she found time for at least a month to practice both. You could tell she was very determined.”

Competing on a cross country team that had won all but one Bay Conference title since 1979, Zeratsky fit right in as the No. 3 runner and was vital in Marinette’s third place finish at the state meet that season.

“Just an outstanding athlete that had a pleasant personality who was very ambitious,” said Leanes. “I had her in track all four years and she was great for our mile relay team, along with many other events.”

Whether it be hitting a tennis ball, shooting hoops, running or jumping, Zeratsky did it all with the same passion that rubbed off on others during a rich time for Marine girls athletics.

“Each sport was an easy transition for me, because a lot of my friends competed in the same sports and we just ran all the time,” said Zeratsky. “In basketball, we would wear our opponents out by the third quarter because we were really well conditioned. It was just a lot of fun. I was fortunate to play for great coaches like John Sitek, Jerry Brown, David Johnson and Mike Leanes, among others that made the sports fun.”

Zeratsky went on to run at UW-Milwaukee her freshman year, but an injury ended her career. After graduation, Zeratsky moved to Rochester, Minnesota, where she has lived for the past 20 years and is married to John Weiser.

While living in Rochester, Zeratsky joined a women’s basketball league and continued to play for many years, along with competing in several marathons.

“I just love staying active,” Zeratsky said. “High school sports sets a person up for an active life. I just love to go out and enjoy life.”