Members of past Austin Packer teams reflect on experiences - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Members of past Austin Packer teams reflect on experiences


AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC)- As the saying goes, history has a tendency of repeating itself. When it comes to the Austin Packers boys basketball team, nobody knows it better then those who have been there before. The building blocks of a storied Packer tradition.

"You get anxious about it, you can't wait for the game to start," says Bryan Baudler, a member of the Packer teams in the late 1950's. "You're hoping and you're thinking that you've got a good chance to win it all, but you won't know until you get out there and play it."

Baudler is a member of the last Austin Packer team to win a state title in boys basketball, back in 1958. The trophy stands proudly outside Ove Berven Gymnasium.

"I'm not the one who was that good, but the rest of them were very good ball players. So, I thought we'd do well and as the season went on it proved to be true. We did lose a couple of games, but that's all we lost. We were ready by tournament time."

The 1950's proved to be a memorable period of time for the Packers, going to state seven times, all under the tutelage of the legendary Ove Berven.

"Ove Berven was a gentlemen's gentlemen. He was a strict disciplinarian in some ways, but he didn't have to shout at you or anything. In fact, his favorite way of communicating with you is he'd kick his heel against the bench that he was sitting on and when you heard that you knew that he saw you made a mistake."

The last time the Austin Packers played in a state title game was in 1981, and a key member of that squad was Steve Justice.

"It was a very special year. We were predicted to have a good team, we had a nice nucleus of seniors. We had three juniors on that 1981 team, so expectation were high."

The '81 team lived up to those expectations, making the state title game but falling to Anoka. Another member of that team was Lee Aase, father of Joe and uncle of Tom.

"To remember playing with Lee and now be able to watch him spectator and probably watch him go through the similar emotions with him and his nephew Tom, also. I'm sure it's a special time for the family."

Both Justice and Baudler still follow the Packers closely, and when they get the chance, they sneak a peek back in the gym, packed with so much history.

"It opens up some memories that I haven't thought about in a long time. I walk in here and some of it comes back. The comradery with my teammates, we still see each other once in awhile and that'll never end. It'll always be a special group as far as I'm concerned."

"Coming in here, it's a very special place. It's a very unique place. I think this gym will live on forever for those of us who got to experience was Ove Berven Gym was all about."

Once an Austin Packer, they truly are an Austin Packer for life.

Both Steve and Bryan had so many stories to tell about their times at Austin High School, including the fact that Steve Justice's father played football at Austin alongside none other than Bryan Baudler.

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