Just last week, the freshman football team suited up for the second game of its season.
Fifteen-year-old Tyler Buczek took the lead as the team's quarterback.
As the score stacked up against the Pirates — who lost 44-2 — Buczek helped the team remain optimistic.
"We were down, losing 44-2, and he was getting sacked and tackled and he was encouraging his teammates constantly throughout (the game) and coming off the sidelines, always making sure that his teammates were feeling good and enjoying playing the game," Coach John Bunyan said.
Bunyan said Buczek's encouraging words to his football teammates provided "a perfect example" of who he was.
"He's just a tremendous and great kid, and a true leader," Bunyan said. "He was a fun kid to be around, funny, very enthusiastic ... worked real hard in the weightroom — in the off-season, too, as well —and just a great character kid. It's so sad and it's tragic, and we miss him."
Buczek had been swimming off North Beach with a group of friends on Sunday when the current took him. He went missing at 2:39 p.m., according to Ozaukee dispatchers. An intense, two-day search between the south end of North Beach and down the breakwall was unsuccessful, Port Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said. He was found several days after disappearing.
As word of the incident on Sunday spread among residents, groups started forming on social media networks, sending messages of hope and prayer for Buczek.
"Never lose hope. Hardest day of school. I know (you're) out there. #Prayingfortyler," @Hayley_Brown10 tweeted as what would have been Buczek's first day of high school got going on Tuesday.
A Facebook group titled, "Wear BLUE tomorrow for Tyler Buczek" urged students to wear blue to their first day of class.
Many followed through with this showing of support on Tuesday, and it wasn't limited to Port Washington High School students. People from Grafton, Milwaukee, De Pere, Oshkosh, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida and more posted photos on the thread, all wearing "blue for Tyler." One photo even came from a girl in Roskilde, Denmark.Another Facebook group — titled, "Pray for Tyler" and meant to show support of the search — had more than 3,000 likes by Tuesday afternoon.
The high school had already planned on Tuesday being a freshmen-only orientation day, Port High Principal Eric Burke said. The idea was a new concept this year that also involved a select group of senior mentors who would be around to help the students get acquainted with the school.
After what happened on Sunday, Burke said school officials decided to limit it to freshmen only.
"It definitely was very helpful in having that group of kids here only for the first day," Burke said. "Counselors from all over the district were here in the morning, and they will be here all week as needed."
The students started with an assembly meeting to make sure that all students were aware of what happened, and to take time to talk about facts and dispel rumors surrounding Sunday's incident, Burke said. He also talked about some memories of Buczek.
"Tyler was a great and influential person, friend and a great teammate," Chandler Fischer told Patch in an e-mail. "He always went slow and told the team what was happening and what we were going to do. He was a great friend and was always looking out for everyone else and was always caring others."
Students were also allowed to go in and out of the cafeteria throughout the day to create posters with messages and memories for Buczek.
"One thing that I’ve seen is they’ve come together really well … a lot of them were coming together talking to each other about things," Burke said. "I think I’ve gained more strength from this experience by seeing the kids today, and their strength."
For Wednesday, many students are already talking about wearing green — Buczek's favorite color — again in his memory. The group is also talking about ordering custom designed bands in Buczek's honor.
Tyler: 'Always wanting to help'
Buzcek spent the summer working at , where his mother, Kim, also works. Owner Mary Ann Voigt mentioned the incident on the business' Facebook page as the news spread on Sunday — calling it a "terrible tragedy in our Dockside family."
"Kim Buczek ... mother of Tyler Buczek, has lost her (15-year-old) Tyler through a tragic drowning on Lake Michigan," the post continued. "Tyler was one of our newest employees and a joy to be with and to behold ... We are all in mourning and it is incredibly difficult to comprehend.
"The joy and optimism which Tyler always brought ... and, his always wanting to go the extra mile for all of us ... well, it's all surreal."
Gary Knaub, who coached Buczek when he was part of the Saukville Rebels youth football team and had known him for the last 10 years, agreed that the teen was someone who was always looking to go out of his way to lend a hand.
"He’s a very smart athlete, he’s always wanting to help," Knaub said. "His parents are great people, they raised him right. The respect that he gives people around him. … He was just the guy that was always there if you wanted to talk, or hang out or whatever. He was always a nice kid."
Though Buczek was beginning with the high school football program, Knaub said he still showed a lot of interest in helping out the Rebels, stopping by practices and looking for ways to volunteer.
'The kind of kid he was'
Many throughout the community have come forward to honor the great person that Buczek was shaping up to be.
"He was just ... just incredible — and you know, he was the kind of kid that you'd say, 'Someday he's going to be president,'" Voigt told TodaysTMJ4.com. "That's just the kind of kid he was."
Diane Kinzer, whose son was a friend to Buczek, called him a "leader" and a "true, shining star."
"Tyler was a leader on and off the field. A great friend to my son and so many others. He loved his family deeply and his family loved him deeply. Every time I would see Tyler he always took time to say hello and talk for a couple minutes," Kinzer said in an e-mail to Patch. "He was the young man all parents would hope for.
"He was one of the guys laughing right along with his friends at a joke. He simply was one of the best, a true loss not only for his parents but also for our community. My family will miss him and I pray his family finds a way to go on without him."
Diane Singer said she taught Buczek in kindergarten and again in second-grade at , and remembered him as an outgoing and bright student.
"From Day 1, it was obivous that he had great interest in and enthusiasm for everything," Singer wrote in an e-mail to Patch. "Work and play got equal effort ... friends and adults got equal, polite consideration. He was happy, sociable and very intelligent.
"He obviously brought great joy to his loving family ... and, as witnessed by the outpouring last night () to his community as well. Special thoughts and sympathy go to his friends who were with him on Sunday ... they've been his best friends since second grade."