Elkhart Lake’s Mike Koehler reflects on his Hall of Fame basketball career

ELKHART LAKE — When Mike Koehler graduated from Elkhart Lake in 1993, he was the third all-time basketball scorer in Wisconsin history with 2,685 points.

Nearly three decades later, the recent Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee is somewhat shocked to see he’s still in the seat.

“You don’t come in as a 14- or 15-year-old saying you’re going to be the leading scorer in the state,” Koehler said. “I’ve played far fewer games than kids in the modern era, who play maybe 16-18 games more and with four extra minutes per game. Records are made to be broken.

A member of the COVID-19-delayed hall class of 2020, Koehler joins former Kohler great Joe Wolf as the only Sheboygan County players to be inducted.

“Even though my playing days ended a long time ago, it’s a huge honor,” Koehler said. “I wanted my parents (at the banquet) in person and they were. It was the most important.

Koehler, 46, took a long hiatus from an NCAA Division I college career in South Dakota, earning his law degree from Wisconsin and becoming a law professor.

“I’ve always seen basketball as a vehicle for other things,” Koehler said. “Basketball is going to stop bouncing at some point for everyone. You have to be ready when it happens. »

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He returned to his hometown and took over the Elkhart Lake men’s basketball program in 2018.

The Resorters went 12-13 in the 2020-21 season, having won three games combined in his first two seasons at the helm.

“When I got home, I thought I would help restore Elkhart Lake basketball, which after three years I think we’re on the right track,” Koehler said.

He didn’t give up his day job as a law professor, which he did online long before COVID-19.

“There are a lot of parallels between being a basketball coach and a law professor because you’re still teaching,” Koehler said.

Koehler marvels at how much the game has changed since he graduated.

“You got on a yellow school bus and you might know if a team was abstractly good or bad and if they have a really good player,” Koehler said. “We went out every Tuesday and Friday to help our team. Now, as a coach, I feel obligated to know all of their off-limits games.

Advancement in technology has changed the game because so much more is known.

“There was no social media or Twitter,” Koehler said. “I was so excited to have the Sheboygan Press on my doorstep because you didn’t even know who won the night before, and if you did, you didn’t know who scored.”

If social media had existed, his mentions would have skyrocketed as a freshman when he caught a pass from his then-senior older brother and attempted to not only defeat rival Oostburg, but also win the first conference championship for Elkhart Lake in over 50 years.

“When you’re a kid playing basketball, you don’t have the context that you have as an adult to appreciate a moment like that,” Koehler said. “It’s only afterwards, as a more mature person, that you realize how much that means.”

Contact Tom Dombeck at 920-686-2965 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @Tom_Dombeck.

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