RIVER FALLS, Wis.-- Kady Bauschelt said it took forever for her students to figure out that was her picture on the wall in the hallway outside the River Falls High School gym.

“Because it says Kady Kleven,” she said. “And they call me Bausch.”

Bauschelt’s picture is alongside the other RFHS alumni who went on to become All-Americans in college. After winning a WIAA Division 1 state high jump championship in 1998 as Kady Kleven, she went on to become a two-time All-American at UW-River Falls in 1999 and 2002.

Now she’s back at her high school alma mater as Kady Bauschelt, and as a first-year physical education and health teacher and new head coach of the Wildcat girls’ track and field team.

“This is my dream job,” she said with a smile.

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Bauschelt and her husband Andy, a New Richmond High School graduate and former UWRF basketball player, spent eight years from 2008-16 working together at Brown Deer High School just north of Milwaukee; Kady teaching physical education and health and Andy as a phy ed teacher and assistant basketball coach before becoming assistant principal. Together they had three kids-- son Ty and daughters Frankie and Tauli-- and their desire to move closer to home grew stronger.

“Our initial push was just for the kids,” Bauschelt said. “It was a five-hour drive every time we came home for every birthday or holiday. And the older they got the less we could travel because of activities and events.

“We looked for jobs here every year,” she added. “But there were never two teaching jobs, or at that point an administrative job and a teaching job at the same time. And we knew we couldn’t come back with one job.”

Then in the summer of 2017, Kady got an interview at Cottage Grove Middle School. Four days later Andy was called for an interview at Hudson High School.

“And just like that, we sold our house within I think five days,” Kady said. “It was nuts.”

Andy Bauschelt is now in his third year as Dean of Students at Hudson High School. Kady taught one year at Cottage Grove and last year at Hudson Middle School before landing the River Falls High School job last summer.

“I knew I had a good position at Hudson,” she said. “Everything was going well. But my heart is in high school. And I wanted to coach track.”

Bauschelt takes over the Wildcat girls’ program from her old college coach Krist Wagner. But Wagner isn’t going far. She’s agreed to stick around and help Bauschelt with the transition.

“Big shoes to fill, no doubt,” Bauschelt said about replacing Wagner. “Although I’m very excited that I can squeeze knowledge from her for awhile. She’s going to have to leave kicking and screaming because I need her.”

Bauschelt was inducted into the River Falls High School Wildcat Hall of Fame in 2013, and still holds the UWRF indoor and Knowles Center women’s high jump record of 5-feet, 7-inches. She said she never could have been a high school state champ, three-time conference champion in college and two-time All-American without the support and guidance of her coaches. And she hopes she can do the same for her student-athletes.

“I don’t think I had any idea what my potential was in high school,” she said. “The fact that my coaches and my family kept me humble and kept me working hard. Never at any point in my life did I not enjoy track and field. And now this is my dream job. So to be able to be here is a different kind of investment that I have. My kids are here, I grew up here. And I want my students now to have the same experiences that I had.”

The Wildcats started practice last week and will compete in their first meet at the Blue Devil Indoor Invitational at UW-Stout Tuesday, March 24. And Bauschelt said she’s pumped about starting her first season as head coach.

“I’m excited to be able to step into a new role and have that investment with the kids here at the school,” she said. “I’m nervous, there’s no doubt. But we’re going for it. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that they’re successful. But my big thing is, always have fun. The level you get to is based on the work you put in and how we train you. But I still want you to have fun and be excited about how far you can go.”

She said there’s another unexpected perk about being back in River Falls.

“It’s fun to hear Kleven again,” she said with a laugh. “Nobody knew me by that where we lived before. But I’m home now.”