REUNITED!: 1966 Wisconsin Lutheran basketball team inducted into Hall of Fame

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- "Father Time" catches up with everyone -- even the players on an unbeaten local high school basketball team -- but reunited for one special day, they became kids again -- rekindling memories that have lasted a lifetime.

The 1966 Wisconsin Lutheran High School's basketball team is still the school's only unbeaten champs with a 21-0 record.

Recently, the team came together again -- reunited for the first time in 48 years.

"Well, first of all -- I wish we were wearing name tags!" John "Corky" Schwarzel said.

It has been half a century since the Wisco Vikings conquered foes on the high school hardwood, but because their Alma Mater made this special group the first "team" in history to be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame on May 10th -- they were reunited.

13 of the 14 players made it back for the honor. One had passed away.

Somehow, Daryl Raabe managed to gather the flock.

"The faces and the memories -- they just come back really quick. It was an incredibly competitive bunch of guys -- from the first to the last. No one backed down from anything -- and you remembered beating up on each other -- literally in practice, day in and day out," Raabe said.

Randy Goede was the leading scorer on that 1966 unbeaten team.

Like so many former athletes, he cherishes the camaraderie the teams shared.

"A lot of people that don't play competitively don't understand -- you are with these people every day practicing, talking -- you hang around together and it really is, you become, as they always say, you're more of a family -- and like I said, it was really enjoyable being back." Goede said.

Goede went on to play baseball as well as basketball at Valparaiso University. He's a Hall of Famer there too!

Goede remembers when Valpo had to go to Houston and play against the "Big E" -- Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes.

"They were number one in the country at the time. We were Division II in basketball. We got beat 158-81, and Elvin Hayes had 62 points. But I wasn't guarding him! It was a zone," Goede said.

Humility aside, the accomplishments of Randy Goede and his teammates transcend basketball.

All 14 have college or professional degrees. Seven have post-graduate degrees. 11 are owners or partners in businesses.

The list goes on and on -- so it's no wonder they are the standard for the school -- even for this year's Wisco team, which won the state championship.

"You look at those guys and the legacy that they've left at our high school and the fine Christian character that they have, and they're great role models not only for the students that are at our school today -- but the teachers too, and it just is a blessing from God that we have people like that that have been a part of our school for many, many years," Ryan Walz, the coach of the 2014 state championship team.

And then, there's the matter of 21-0.

"Really didn't think about it then. Now it really has some precedence in our life because the record hasn't been broken. And we were just kids. All I really wanted to do was just play ball. That's it," Llew Eastern said.

The reunion reminded the fellas of some of the terrific stories they shared. John "Corky" Schwarzel has a million of them. Here's one he could tell on TV!

"I do remember one time I was supposed to bring a bottle of my dad's wine for the pastor, and it never got out of my trunk until we ended up winning the championship. Then we brought it out and sampled it like cherry soda and suffered dearly," Schwarzel said.

Ahhh the memories!

For Daryl Raabe, the joy of that magical season still resonates -- almost a half-century later!

"My family probably gets sick of hearing about it all the time. 'Oh, you told that story 15 million times, Dad!' But doggone it, it's just a good a story today as it was back then," Raabe said.

By all accounts, the Wisconsin Lutheran players who were part of that perfect season had a perfect day.

It culminated at The Grain Exchange -- with their introduction into the school's Hall of Fame.

1 Comment

  • David Metzger

    Thank you so much for your coverage of this special event. Well done. Thank you also for featuring Daryl Raabe, who worked so hard to assemble the team and make this happen.

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