Hulne: Packers provided a blueprint for success

Published 7:34pm Monday, March 17, 2014

The Austin boys basketball team just finished off a phenomenal three-year run that saw them win three conference titles, play in three state tournaments, and take second in the state in back-to-back seasons.

None of that success came by accident.

The basketball program has definitely had some talented players on its roster over the last few seasons, but a lot of that talent was the result of hours and hours of work. The entire team has put in much of their free time in the summer and much of their free time during the school year to work hard and get better.

But the biggest thing the Packers have had going for them goes well beyond talent. Austin had some of the best camaraderie, communication and leadership I’ve seen on a squad in quite some time this year. If you sat around practice or talked to the players away from the game, you wouldn’t be able to tell who was starting and who had been riding the bench all season.

These guys didn’t just want to win, they truly cared about each other on and off the court, and that’s something that really can’t be taught.

I had a chance to interview just about every player in the main rotation for the Packers this season and while they all had great things to say, it was the reaction of the entire team that really stood out to me. Any time I went to talk to a player who didn’t always get a lot of attention, the entire locker room would shout their name out and cheer for him. With that kind of support, those players have to be inspired to work even harder and get better.

The Packers are graduating five great seniors from this year’s squad, but if the underclassmen learned anything from watching their elders, Packer basketball isn’t going anywhere. Sure, the team probably won’t play in the state title game every year, but you’ll continue to see a team that plays together and appreciates each other.

Those are the things that make high school sports a positive experience, and those are also the things that build winners.

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