The eight teenagers talk animatedly about favorite memories of their years in basketball. Do you remember? What about the time? They spoke in partial sentences and finished each other’s sentences as they remembered away tournaments and various games over the years. While many memories include times off of the court, one favorite game memory is finally beating the tough Pine City basketball team. Another is winning against rival Hinckley-Finlayson by 45 points.
Tyler Thorvig said his favorite memories include Fond du Lac Youth summer basketball league.
Most of the boys began playing together in elementary school. The East Central students are seniors now and will graduate in a few months.
The team had a long winning streak this season and look forward to a run at state. It wasn’t always like that. The team struggled to win games many times over the years.
“What really brought the team together as a family is Coach Fogt,” said Kayla Nelson, a parent of one of the players. “He won’t take credit for it, but he’s molded this team into who they are today. They all had skill and played as a team, but since he’s taken over as their coach he’s instilled in them family. He’s gruff, opinionated and loud but he has heart and soul. He loves these boys as his own and they respect the heck out of him and value his coaching.”
Newcomer Dez LeTexier said he appreciates the support the players give each other on and off the court. He moved to the area last year and said he felt accepted immediately.
“We have chemistry,” Wesley Watrin said.
Adam Fornengo summed up the years together with one word, family.
“We’re always there for each other on and off of the court,” said Mo Touray. The guys nodded in agreement.
“It’s all about relationships,” Coach Darren Fogt said. He explains the boys have an average skill set and are decent athletes. They play together well and have a will to win and that came together in the last few years.
Teams focus on wins and losses, Fogt said. Families care about each other outside of the game and hold each other accountable.
The guys toss out descriptions of their coach quickly. They describe him as crazy, loud and determined.
Fogt had a huge grin as he listened to the boys. They laughed as they thought of new descriptions and teased each other good naturedly.
Nelson remembers one of the first away tournaments when the boys were in elementary school. The parents tried unsuccessfully to fire up the boys before the games.
She explains the parents refer back to the memory of that weekend often over the years and dubbed the kids the comeback team.
“They played not so hot and lost,” Nelson said. The boys started barely squeaking out wins until they made it to the final game. “It was a neck and neck game that we lost in the end. They fought back and took second. We are the comeback team, nothing has ever come easy. They always take the hard way to a win.”
The boys said they appreciate the encouragement from their fans and the energy they provide at games. They also appreciate everything the parents do for them, from meals to making giant cutout heads of the players.
These are life long relationships, said Fogt as he looked around the table at the young men poised to move on to the next chapter of their lives.