CEDARBURG -- An extremely special father and son story has built up in Cedarburg and now it's winding down.
Tom Diener had tremendous success coaching players, some of whom went onto the NBA, at Milwaukee Vincent and Milwaukee Hamilton high schools for the past three-and-a-half seasons. He's coached his son John at Cedarburg.
"I've always felt a tremendous amount of responsibility to all the kids that I have coached to give them my best -- but when I got John up here at the high school, I've even felt a greater responsibility to make sure I'm doing things right for him," Tom Diener said.
The results would indicate things must have been done right. The Bulldogs made it to state in 2017. John will play on scholarship at DePaul University, and his cumulative GPA is above 4.
"I think a lot of it is intrinsic motivation. It's just something within me. I learned to compete at an early age. Sometimes in practice, I'm the best player on the team. It doesn't do me any good to compete against our eighth man, so in the off-season, come in here and work out and chart my shots and I am competing against how I worked out last time," John Diener said.
It looks nice and smooth now for John Diener, but it wasn't always.
"I've had to deal a lot with being the coach's son, and as a freshman, my dad coming in, taking things over, doing it his way, that was really tough for me. That's probably one of the toughest things I have ever had to go through. You've got your own fans whispering up in the stands. You've got to ignore all that and as a 14-year-old, it's a lot harder than it looks. I think it's made me a stronger person, so that if down the road, I'm 27 and I face some adversity in my life. Hopefully that experience will help me," John Diener said.
This father-son basketball bond will be altered at season's end, but it won't be broken.
"I've been pretty sad as this season is progressing. We've only got a few weeks left, and that's really starting to become a reality to me. I'm starting to think about that a lot more, but it's time. There's a place and time for everything in life and it's time for John to go off to college and meet that challenge and become the person he's going to become," Tom Diener said.
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren in 2013 tweeted: "Cedarburg has some talented 8th grade hoopsters. Add John Diener to play and dad Tom Diener to coach -- watch out for CHS down the road." John Diener re-tweeted it last year around state tournament time.
"To see it finally get turned around last year was no bigger relief. It was just a lot of fun. That tweet kind of symbolized how far it's come from bottom feeders of the conference to the state championship game," John Diener said. "My dad and I being at the center of the revival of the Cedarburg basketball program is -- there's nothing I am more proud of than that."
John Diener is going to play at DePaul University in Chicago next season. His cousin Drake also played there, while another cousin, Travis, played at Marquette University and two other cousins, Drew and Rachel played at St. Louis University. There's been a whole lot of Diener family success when it comes to basketball.