Keep chasing your dreams
LA PORTE — Once noted by USA Today for being “amongst the most unexpected NCAA heroes in history,” Spike Albrecht enjoyed his 15 minutes (more precisely, 20) of fame in the 2013 national championship game when the Crown Point graduate came off the Michigan bench to drain four 3-pointers in a 17-point first half against Louisville.
“Any time you get the chance to play on the national stage in front of that many people, with millions of people around the world watching, it definitely changed my life,” Albrecht said before speaking at Sunday’s Porter County Conference basketball tournament banquet at the La Porte Civic Auditorium. “But the most important thing from that game wasn’t necessarily the points, the accolades, the recognition. It was a gratifying moment for myself, my family, all the hard work I’d put in the last 14, 15 years paying off. It was an opportunity to show I wasn’t necessarily some phony, that I belonged.”
Albrecht, whose family is basketball royalty in CP, drew acclaim for tweeting to Kate Upton, who was at the game, and though she didn’t answer him, he found himself squarely in the national spotlight. While a star with the Bulldogs, he didn’t project as a big-time college player, but got his shot with John Beilein and the Wolverines.
Part of his message to the boys and girls from the eight PCC schools was that he didn’t let the odds deter him from trying to realize a goal.
“By sharing my story, the ups and downs I faced throughout my career, hopefully it gives kids a chance to realize if you have dreams, you should chase after them, believe in yourself and go after it,” he said. “If you love something, you’re passionate about it, give it 100 percent, despite what other people say or think. I’m sure there were a lot of people who doubted me, who didn’t think I could achieve what I achieved. I knew all along in my heart of hearts that I could play at that level, It only took one person to believe in me and give me the opportunity, and I made the most of it. I accepted my role and did the best I could at it.”
While seven players from that team went on to play in the NBA, Albrecht had his career sidetracked by a genetic hip condition exacerbated by the grind of college basketball. Bilateral surgery before his senior year eventually prompted Albrecht to decide that December (2015) to sit out the rest of the season. He ultimately went to Purdue as a graduate transfer, sharing in his second Big Ten title at as many schools in 2017. The surgery and a subsequent back fracture diminished his skills, but Albrecht looks back with zero regret.
“Initially, I wanted to play overseas eight, 10 years, but it is what it is,” Albrecht said. “I took my education seriously and I wouldn’t be in the position I am without those degrees. At the end of day, I got to play the game I love at two of the greatest institutions in the country. Yeah, I had some injuries, but in hindsight, I had it pretty good.”
A Chicago-based pharmaceutical salesman, Albrecht still lives with his folks in C.P., where he gets his game on a YMCA rec league.
“I’m much better now that I don’t play every day,” he said. “I feel great. I try to keep myself in halfway decent shape. I pick and choose when I want to step it up. There are some crazy guys out there who take it pretty serious. They love to come at me. I have to remember, it’s just a men’s league, I’ve got to get up and go to work in the morning.”
Albrecht’s tie to the PCC is Westville girls coach and athletic director Josh Goeringer, who played and coached at Crown Point. He spoke at Westville practices last year and Goeringer later asked him if he’d be interested in doing so at the banquet.
“Everybody from Crown Point, especially the basketball community, knows each other,” Albrecht said. “Josh helped coach Hannah (Albrecht). I was always going to basketball camps and Josh was there playing. I was familiar with the PCC, the teams, but I didn’t know all about the banquet. I talked to Josh, Andrea (Overholt), (C.P.) coach (Clint) Swan, my dad (Chuck) about how big of a deal this banquet, this tournament is, what it means to these kids. At the end of the day, I’m from Indiana, I grew up playing Indiana basketball, I know the tradition, how passionate people are about it. It’s pretty much the same everywhere.”
While Albrecht hasn’t done a great deal of public speaking, he was comfortable in the setting.
“I was the exact same seat seven, eight years ago,” he said. “I feel my story will really resonate. I get a chance to talk basketball, which is fun for me. As a high school, college kid, you think you’ve got it all figured out. That’s just not realistic. That’s not life. There are going to be curve balls thrown at you, challenges. I certainly had some thrown at me. One of my biggest attributes is I always stayed positive through it all. I always trusted that everything happens for a reason. I believed in my heart of hearts it would work out.”
Porter County Conference Tournament Pairings
AT BOONE GROVE
Hebron vs. LaCrosse
Boone Grove vs. Washington Township
Kouts vs. Westville
South Central vs. Morgan Township
Morgan Township vs. LaCrosse
Hebron vs. Washington Township
Westville vs. South Central
Boone Grove vs. Kouts
* -- Girls semifinals are Jan. 18 and the boys semifinals are Jan. 19. Both championshkips are Jan. 19 at Kouts.