March 29, 2023 at 1:34 p.m.

Stealing the show

Stealing the show
Stealing the show

By Evan Michealson- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Huskies bench trio excite community with dance moves

A basketball team is far more than the players on the floor, and at the Minnesota State High School League Class AA Boys Basketball State Tournament, the Albany Huskies and its community received a boost of energy from three players who rarely saw the court all season.

Those tuning into Channel 45 for Albany’s masterful championship run may have also seen additional entertainment in the form of three Huskies adding some life to camera reels and photos of the bench. Juniors Devon Schaefer, Hunter Hamann and Caleb Abraham wowed the crowd and stole hearts with a variety of synchronized celebrations and dances.

“Instead of being on the bench, quiet and clapping, adding something like that gets the team more involved,” said Hamann, who sat in between Abraham and Schaefer at the end of the bench. “Even though you’re not playing, you’re involved.”

The trio has been friends for a long time, having played basketball together in the same grade. So, with established cohesion in tow, the jokesters decided to implement dancing after Huskie 3-pointers in Albany’s fourth game of the season against Holy Family Catholic at St. John’s University Dec. 29. From there, it spawned something special.

“I play sports to have fun, and this is one of the most fun teams I’ve ever been on,” said Schaefer, who sits at the very end of the Albany bench. “Everyone on the team is good friends, and we all get along great. We decided, as a group, to have as much fun as we could on the bench.”

The first move the energetic group brought to the table was holding up three fingers and moving their legs in unison, and they diversified it in the following games, going down into a squat and popping back up after threes and even learning a dance they saw on TikTok. While getting in rhythm can be difficult, especially having to react to in-game situations, the lively bunch quickly got in sync.

“We had that natural chemistry,” said Abraham, who sits the farthest from the end of the bench, next to Hamann. “We’ve been close most of our lives, and it came pretty quick.”

Schaefer, Hamann and Abraham cycled through this three-dance rotation for most of the season, providing a reliable, ever-present spark whenever it felt necessary. And as the Huskies advanced through the Section 6AA Tournament and made it to state, the dynamic trio added more routines to the growing collection of crowd-pleasers. Whenever senior forward Ethan Borgerding scored a basket, the three held their arms up and flexed, a flourish nicknamed “Byzz.” Even with a natural ability to work in tandem, these dedicated Huskies harnessed their newfound craft.

“The dance moves don’t come naturally,” Abraham said. “We had some pregames going, set up some chairs, got some celebration practice in.”

This terrific game time tradition was not something these three Albany high schoolers did for external attention or acclaim, but rather as a way to provide joy and motivation for their basketball brothers. So, when they were swarmed with positive comments about their moves making it on TV, they were floored.

“I checked my phone and saw a lot of videos of myself and how much of a clown I was,” Hamann said. “It’s just nice to see, even though it’s not a huge part of the game and it’s not a part of the stat line.”

Schaefer, renowned by even his coaching staff as the main provider of humor amongst the team, took this gag to another level during player introductions. As the Channel 45 camera introduced him as a member of the team, he stared down the camera in an almost-cold manner, a complete contrast from the smiles and waves shown by the rest of his team.

     “I’m not a dangerous person,” he said. “I’m just joking with the stare-down.”

The group does not know whether this show-stealing, wholesome series of dances will continue, as it depends on whether they receive minutes in their senior campaigns. Regardless, the playful trio hopes what they built in a monumental, memory-filled 2022-23 season carries into the future. 

“I’m hoping for more next year,” Abraham said. “I would love to see other people get in on the dancing, get some more moves going.”


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