Induction Year: 2005
Recipient of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award
Art Brunje of Bella Vista, Ark., was an excellent Yellowjacket football player who went on to a distinguished career as a high school and college football coach. He is inducted into the Hall of Fame as recipient of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award, named for the university's legendary football coach.
Mr. Brunje played for Coach Mortorelli as an offensive end and as a defensive back, and lettered in football for three years. After graduating he began a career as a teacher in Wisconsin that would last for more than 30 years.
Over the years, Mr. Brunje coached athletes in several sports at Wisconsin high schools in Lake Holcombe, Prairie du Chien, Westby and Sparta, and at Winona State University in Minnesota. In 22 years as a head coach for high school football teams, he led his players to a 143-77-1 record. His teams included two Division IV state champions, a Division IV runner-up, and 12 conference champions. His teams also made nine consecutive playoff appearances and recorded three undefeated seasons.
Mr. Brunje was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000. His other honors include being named head coach of the North Team in the 1994 Shrine Bowl; assistant coach of the North Team in the 1990 Shrine Bowl; three-time La Crosse, Wis., Elk's Coach of the Year; two-time Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Region VIII Coach of the Year; and La Crosse Tribune Coach of the Year.