For 51 years, Mike Gratz has spent Friday nights in the fall on the sidelines of Mineral Point football games. The 70-year old is a part of the “chain gang” and considers it a huge responsibility. But he rarely disagrees with the officials.
“We’re not supposed to,” he admitted.
Mike says he gets paid $20 an hour for his chain gang duties, but he would easily do it for free. In fact, he used to give that $20 right back to the school to help the Mineral Point football program.
But Mike’s love for his hometown community goes beyond the football field.
Mike’s daughter Kimmy, was killed in a car accident in 1971. He worked for the fire department at the time and was one of the first people on scene. Then 18 years later on Halloween, his daughter Angel was also killed in a car crash.
“You never have the last goodbye,” he said.
But in these darkest times, the Mineral Point community was there for him to lean on.
“Everyone just puts their arms around you and gets you through it,” he said tearfully.
This community is a big reason why he continues to stay involved - not just on the football field, but volunteering at his church and serving on the Chamber of Commerce.
“I still get cards from people,” he said, “They know how tough it is.”
That is what makes this Mineral Point community so special to him.
“That’s what makes MIneral Point great,” Mike said.