June 20, 2021
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
Please see the complete version of this story in the June 17, 2021 print edition of The Brillion News, with Kittel's coaching and teaching memories, and involvement with the Brillion community.
BRILLION – It is impossible to overstate what Peter Kittel has meant to the Brillion community since he arrived in 1989.
Kittel has been a Hall of Fame football and basketball coach, athletic director, math teacher, and high school principal. His career with the Brillion School District is in its final days, as Kittel is retiring this month.
Thirty-two years after he was hired, Kittel is described in the community with terms of endearment like ‘legend.’
“I’ve been spoiled. Not many people get to do all the things that I got to do in a career,” Kittel said.
About every 10 years in his career, Kittel embarked on a new challenge. The last seven he has served as principal. Now, his retirement is a climax of all the roles he has served.
“It’s a culmination. It’s been an awesome experience. I’ve been very spoiled … Met a lot of awesome people,” Kittel said.
Kittel says the time for retirement just feels right.
“I always told myself when I felt it was time, I was going to make sure it was time. I didn’t want to get to where I was miserable and ornery. I still like what I do. Maybe there’s a couple things I don’t like quite as much, so I don’t want to get to where I don’t enjoy it. It’s too important of a job to not enjoy it,” Kittel said.
Kittel describes his hometown of Amery as similar to Brillion in size, with a little different personality, about one hour from Minneapolis.
Amery is where he met his wife, Cheryl, and where he says he learned valuable lessons from his parents, who he describes as two of his biggest supporters, with his two sisters also on that list.
“My parents really supported everything I did. It’s been of the biggest things. The more I’ve been in education, probably the principal position, more than ever, I’ve realized how fortunate I’ve been in my life to have a supportive family and people that I could count on,” Kittel said. “Because not everyone has that.”
Kittel’s father was a teacher. His mother taught GED courses at a local technical college.
“I grew up in an education family. I loved it. My first major in college was pre-med. I really liked athletic training, orthopedics … but in my era, there were no jobs really in athletic training unless you were in a college or professional sports setting,” Kittel said. “My heart was always pretty much in teaching and when I thought about how much schooling I was going to have to do to be a doctor, I thought, I don’t know if I want to do all that. I want to get out and try to make a difference quicker.”
He also knew he loved sports at a young age. He refers to himself as a “sports addict.” In Amery, he was a member of the high school band, choir and musical, but sports were always his first love.
“Growing up a teacher’s kid, while I was waiting for my dad to get done with school, I sat in the gym and watched basketball practice,” Kittel said.
In high school, Kittel was able to participate in football, basketball, track and baseball, because it was played in the summer.
“It was an awesome life. I couldn’t get a job full-time because I had to play sports, and my parents supported that,” Kittel said.