EDGAR, Wis. (WSAW)-- "A pre-squad check with everything."
still shot from video shot by WSAW on 9-25-19
Wausau PD Officer Aaron Karlen is preparing for his next shift.
"Just making sure we've got everything ready to go before we pull out of the lot here," he said.
He's living out a second childhood dream.
"This is exactly what I wanted to do. Just took a little different route to get here."
Aaron grew up in Edgar.
"Time sure does fly when you're out of high school," he laughed.
Time flies for all of us, after looking back at an earlier encounter with Aaron while working at NewsChannel 7. As a senior, the mohawk'ed Karlen led the Wildcats to a repeat state championship in 2010.
"To raise two balls, it's what kids dream of."
"He was a chubby little guy when he was smaller," recalled longtime Edgar head coach Jerry Sinz.
Sinz knew he had a good one on his hands.
"His junior and senior year he improved by leaps and bounds," Sinz recalled. "He probably improved more from his freshman to junior year than anybody I can ever remember."
Aaron wasn't convinced football was for him. After graduation, he stepped away from the game, pursuing criminal justice at Northcentral Technical College. He realized he wasn't done, the game wasn't done with him, and enrolled at UW-Stevens Point.
"I took that as my grayshirt or redshirt year, to get bigger, faster, stronger and develop more as to understanding the defense and such."
He blossomed into an All-American, earning a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks. He never heard from them after that weekend.
"That just made me work a little harder after that."
But he continued to chase that dream, landing in the Canadian Football League, jumping between Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa.
"I mean, you walked on egg shells," said Karlen. "You never knew if it was your last day. Yeah, they're your teammates but at the end of the day they want a job, too. But, they're hoping when I was starting that I may get hurt."
After two seasons, and having already made Montreal's roster for the 2017 season, he decided to walk away on his own terms.
"I knew I was ready to be done when I wasn't excited to go to practice anymore."
He hit the police academy in Appleton right away. Eventually landing a job with the Marathon County Sheriff's Office, part-time, court security. Until a phone conversation with Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven.
"I remember standing out in the lobby of this conference center and talking with Aaron," Chief Bliven said. "Really thinking, this guy gets what we're trying to do at Wausau Police Department."
"That meant a lot to me and it said a lot about him," Karlen added.
For nearly two years now, Officer Karlen has been a member of the Wausau PD.
"He is able to take correction. 'Hey Aaron, I think you could do better in this regard if you do X, Y or Z.' That's what helped him excel, I'm sure, in athletics is his ability to take coaching," said Chief Bliven.
A champion, on the field...
"Taking the football route, I got to have my fun.
...and in the field.
"Now it's my time to essentially give back."
Karlen did say that he would love to be able to lay a hit on a quarterback just one more time.