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North Beach
Real Racine cancels beach soccer tournament

RACINE — The Pro-Am Beach Soccer Wisconsin Qualifier Tournament has been canceled just days after it was announced, Real Racine said Tuesday, citing budget uncertainties due to Mount Pleasant’s decision to end its contract with the organization and competition from other tournaments nearby.

The qualifier, originally scheduled for the weekend of July 20 at North Beach, would have been an entry competition to Pro-Am’s inaugural national tournament in Racine. The national championship, scheduled for Aug. 17-19, also at North Beach, “is currently still on and under review as teams register,” according to Cari Greving, Real Racine’s event manager.

The cancellation came shortly after Mount Pleasant decided to cut ties with Real Racine, a move that put the organization’s budget in uncertain waters. Mount Pleasant’s hotels account for about $700,000, or 75 percent, of Real Racine’s room tax revenue.

Real Racine also said due to a soccer tournament taking place July 21-22 in Chicago and one in Kenosha the next weekend, registration from Midwest soccer clubs had been low.

“The Wisconsin Qualifier was proving to be low in team registrations, with very few overnight stays, resulting in a much lower-than-anticipated return on investment,” Real Racine officials said in a press release. In a Sunday Journal Times article, Greving said the event was expected to have an economic impact of about $1 million between hotel stays, restaurant visits and shopping.

The qualifier tournament was to be open to both adult and youth teams. Greving said Real Racine will determine the fate of the national championship within the next few weeks as teams continue to register.

Sireno lives for Spirit of '76: Teacher, coach served two tours of duty in the Reserves

BURLINGTON — Just as commercialization has blunted the true meaning of Christmas for many over the years, it also could be suggested that the Spirit of ‘76 is fading with the passing of every Fourth of July.

As brats sizzled, beer flowed and fireworks illuminated the evening skies Wednesday, how many of us who were savoring a day off from work even paused to give a passing thought to exactly why this day is celebrated?

Andrew Sireno, a math teacher and assistant football coach at Burlington High School, certainly did. Twice, he has interrupted his life to serve tours of duty as a volunteer for the United States Army Reserves. And even at the age of 32, with a wife of four years, a career and a home in Burlington, Sireno wants to give more.

He’s willing to leave all the above behind for a time once again just because he believes in making a meaningful difference for his country. He’s endured rocket attacks, primitive living conditions, roadside bombs and the pain of discovering someone he just met has been killed, but the enormous commitment he’s already made still isn’t enough to satisfy Sireno.

“If I don’t go, then who will?” the soft-spoken Sireno said. “I want to get all the experiences to mold me into a better person. My brother’s gone three times and I’ve only gone twice, so I probably should go at least once more. He’s got a wife of his own and now he has a young son.”

From where do people with this DNA come? Steve Osborne, Sireno’s Pee Wee football coach in the mid 1990s, can’t answer that question. What he can say is they don’t come around too often.

“I relate him to this story about my uncle,” Osborne said. “At his funeral, it was said, ‘If you’re lucky enough to meet five people in your lifetime that make you a better person, consider yourself fortunate.’ And Andrew’s one of those five for me.

“He’s never been selfish, he’s always been a team player, he’s always been there for others. … He’s the kind of guy who says if he’s going to run over to your house, that doesn’t mean he’s going to get into a car. He’s literally going to run to your house.”

A sense of duty

Sireno, an Elkhorn native who was a reserve receiver on UW-Whitewater’s 2007 NCAA Division III championship team, has been about commitment for most of his life. Largely because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Tim, Sireno enlisted in the Army Reserves after graduating from college.

He volunteered for deployment in November 2010 and left for Afghanistan, where he served in Panjwayi Valley in the Kandahar Province from March to November in 2011.

“When he told me he was going into the Army, this was around the time you didn’t want to hear that from someone you care about,” Osborne said. “I asked him, ‘You do know what could happen?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’" 

Sireno didn’t know what to expect in those dangerous conditions so far from home. But he met his challenge with the sense of duty that still tugs at his soul.

“It’s really funny when you first get over there because you hear all the horror stories, so you’re constantly staring at the ground, looking for those roadside bombs,” Sireno said. “I remember when the first rocket attack we had happened, sirens went off. You didn’t know what was happening.”

Through those grueling eight months, Sireno persevered. He remembers literally living in the dirt, sharing a tent with 100 soldiers and two showers being available for all of them. He remembers having to shower with a five-gallon pail he filled with water bottles during another stretch.

Food? Maybe some beef, ravioli, crackers and candy.

“There were times you’d grab an MRE (Meals Ready to Eat), and you’d think, ‘I’m not going to eat this,’ “ Sireno said.

And there were certainly the war stories that remain with many of the soldiers who made it home for the rest of their lives.

“I don’t really talk too much about this, but I remember a time there was an explosion and nobody really knew what it was,” Sireno said. “We heard some infantry guys got hit with an IED (improvised explosive device) and we took off to help. You had like 19-year-old kids you had to carry.”

Some people he knew didn’t make it.

“One moment you’re talking to them and, the next day, they’re gone,” Sireno said.

Not done yet

Sireno, a staff sergeant, returned for a second year-long tour — this time in Iraq — that ended in June. His second duty required leaving behind his wife, Annie, the girls volleyball coach at Union Grove High School, whom he married in 2014, and taking a leave of absence from his positions as a math teacher and assistant coach at Burlington.

This tour of duty wasn’t as grueling as Afghanistan and one of the the positives during that tour was almost a negative for him. Because communication service was better there, he could call and text home much easier than while he was in Afghanistan, but that sometimes worsened his emotional state.

“I would rather be at war because you were constantly doing something,” he said. “You’re constantly moving and you don’t have time to think versus Iraq, where we had a lot of down time. So you’re calling home a lot more and just talking to people when you can’t be home is frustrating.”

Sireno will be back at Burlington this fall, but the question is for how long. He’s considering eventually volunteering in the Air Force to specialize in explosive ordnance disposal.

In the meantime, Sireno was planning to celebrate what the Fourth of July truly is about. The easy answer for him is: it’s about the soldiers who have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedom.

“You think about what happened to others,” he said. “I’m appreciative because I’ve made it and others haven’t.”

Megan Burke / MEGAN BURKE 

Burlington High School defensive coach Andrew Sireno holds out a football for a young player at the Tony Romo Football Camp on June 21 in Burlington. Sireno volunteered as one of the coaches for the camp after returning recently from his second tour in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Town of Burlington
Woman allegedly stabs husband ... and his motorcycle


TOWN OF BURLINGTON — A rural Burlington woman is facing charges after reportedly stabbing her 54-year-old husband and his motorcycle.

Star Lynn Lee, 46, of the 33000 block of Fairview Court in the Bohners Lake area of the Town of Burlington, is charged with felony counts of attempted-first degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon, and substantial battery, and three misdemeanor counts of bail jumping and criminal damage to property.

Sheriff’s deputies reported that the husband’s injuries were non life-threatening.

According to the criminal complaint and a Racine County sheriff’s news release:

At approximately 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, a Racine County sheriff’s deputy was with Lee at Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine to investigate a report that she had stabbed her husband at their Town of Burlington home. The husband had been taken to Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington, where he was treated for a wound to the chest and released.

Deputies later spoke with Lee’s husband, who said he and Lee were at a bar drinking Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning without any problems. He said about a minute after they got home, Lee began punching him.

Lee’s husband said he grabbed Lee by the throat and pushed her away and then walked to the kitchen. He said that Lee then grabbed a butcher knife off the counter and jumped on his back, knocking him to the ground and stabbed him. He said Lee then chased after him and also stabbed his motorcycle.

Her husband told deputies that Lee had allegedly stabbed him twice in the past, but he never reported it, but stabbing his motorcycle “crossed the line.” When he said he was calling the police, Lee supposedly put the knife down and ran inside.

Lee is out on bond in a Maryland case in which she is charged with burglary, assault, reckless endangerment, theft and concealing a dangerous weapon. She was set to go to jury trial there on July 25. Lee’s husband said he was also a victim in that case.

As of Thursday afternoon, Lee remained in custody at the Racine County Jail. She has been assigned a July 11 preliminary hearing in Racine County Circuit Court.