A solid gentleman; Coach Haddorff, who took over for Berven, passes away at 86

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It can be tough to follow in the footsteps of a legend. But that’s exactly what former Austin basketball coach Oscar Haddorff had to do and he did it with grace.

Haddorff, who passed away Oct. 25 at age 86, had to follow long-time AHS head boys basketball coach Ove Berven, but he never let that get to him as he eventually coached his way into the AHS hall of fame, while earning the respect of most around him.

Austin grad Lee Aase missed playing under Haddorff by just a handful of games, but he remembers fondly how Haddorff coached his teams.

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“He was like the ultimate gentleman,” said Aase, who was part of Haddorf’s basketball program as a freshman and a sophomore. “He focused on coaching between the games and he wasn’t a yeller. He was just a solid gentleman.”

Haddorff coached the Packer boys basketball team from 1968 to 1978 and he led Austin to a second place finish in the Class AA state tournament in 1972. He won 198 games and three Big Nine titles with the boys team, and he also coached the Packer girls basketball team for a stint. Haddorff taught in Austin for 36 years and he was inducted into the Minnesota Boys Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Riverland Community College Hall of Fame.

Former Austin High School basketball coach Oscar Haddorff, left, sits with Dick Seltz on the gym bleachers. Haddorff died Oct. 25. Photo provided

Former Austin High School basketball coach Oscar Haddorff, left, sits with Dick Seltz on the gym bleachers. Haddorff died Oct. 25. Photo provided

Mark Haddorff, the youngest of Oscar’s four children, has followed in his father’s footsteps as he is a teacher and assistant boys basketball coach at Lakeville North. Mark said his dad was a shining example of how to handle coaching and teaching.

“I never heard him say a bad word about anybody,” Mark, who graduated from AHS in 1984, said. “My dad was my inspiration to get into teaching and coaching. For him, it was always about the kids, it was never about him. The most important thing for him was if you did your best and played as a team.”

Oscar, who graduated from Hamline University, was a four-sport athlete at Mound High School, where he played football, basketball, baseball and competed in track and field. Oscar coached the Austin B-squad team for nine years under Berven before taking over the helm.

“He followed up a legend in Ove Berven and that’s a tough act to follow,” Aase said. “He definitely was a solid teacher of the game. He was really looking out for the kids and really setting a great example of what an adult should be.”

Oscar retired from teaching in 1991. He was a member for many years at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and volunteered his time to numerous community activities, including Meals on Wheels and 55 Alive Drivers’ Training. He enjoyed golfing, playing cards with his many friends and spending time with family.

While Oscar and his wife, Marian, eventually moved to Lakeville to be close to family, Mark said that his father never forgot about his time in Austin.

“He loved the people of Austin,” Mark said. “His heart was always there.”