He’s going out on top
By Jeremy Behnke
Journal Sports Editor
NEW ULM – As they say, all good things must come to an end.
This Friday and Saturday, Martin Luther College senior Galen Holzhueter will wrap up his final collegiate homestand and put an end to what has been a remarkable college and high school career.
He’s probably going to go down as one of the best, if not the best, player the city of New Ulm has ever seen. He wraps up a career of eight years on varsity at two different levels, and he will leave with more than 3,600 points combined for both college and high school.
He owns the Minnesota Valley Lutheran career scoring record with 2,053 points and this past weekend, he climbed to the top of another scoring list, passing Erica Babinec’s (2008-2012) career record of 1,644 at MLC. Holzhueter now has 1,653 points with two games left at home. The Knights host Crown College at 7:30 p.m. Friday and University of Minnesota-Morris at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Despite the success, you’ll never hear him talk much about his accomplishments. He enjoys winning more than anything, although wins have been hard to come by during his career at MLC. He hasn’t been to the conference postseason tournament since his freshman season.
“My focus has never been on achieving records or personal things,” Holzhueter said. “Coming into high school, never did I think about getting 1,000 points or 2,000 and as my career went along, it obviously started popping up. I try keeping the focus on the team and working for that, something I learned from my dad.”
His coach agrees that Holzhueter is unselfish.
“Galen has played on teams that sometimes he had to carry, although he would never say that, he gets as much or even more pleasure handing out an assist as he does hitting the basket himself,” MLC coach Jim Unke said. “He has always been a very consistent scorer in both wins and losses. He brings the competitive attitude to every game he plays in.”
His varsity basketball career started eight years ago at MVL as a freshman. He played on the varsity football team as a freshman, so he had some of those jitters out of the way. But there was a time when he was nervous, especially in the beginning.
“I played some varsity football earlier in the year so that kind of broke the ice I guess,” Holzhueter said. “I don’t remember the details, but it wasn’t long before I started practicing with the varsity. But it was a nerve-racking time and it definitely helped having my brother Greg there.
“Coming into the locker room that first night before the first game and not really knowing what to expect, coach [Craig Morgan] told me in warm-ups that I would be starting, which was pretty awesome to hear and it was a pretty good privilege for a freshman,” he said.
After that, it was impossible for Morgan to take Holzhueter out of the lineup. In the process of his four-year career, he broke MVL’s all-time scoring mark and he became the only player in the history of New Ulm basketball to eclipse the 2,000-point mark.
“I even think about getting 1,000 points in college, it doesn’t seem like that many, but I thank God for the opportunity to play four years at both levels and I’ve stayed away from serious injuries,” Holzhueter said.
Galen’s love for the game came at an early age. He grew up watching his older brother Greg play and he was also influenced by his father Paul, who also coached him while Galen was younger.
“Basically, everything I know about basketball I attribute to him,” Holzhueter said. “He has a huge amount of knowledge with basketball and he’s passed it on to me. I can definitely thank him for a lot of the success I’ve had in basketball.”
Although his talent has carried him a long way, so too has his basketball IQ.
“He is a very smart player,” MLC coach Jim Unke said. “He understands the game and strategies and he also recognizes strengths and weaknesses in opponents.”
Greg, who was a three-sport athlete at MLC and is now the head coach at Bethany Lutheran College, also was a big influence in Galen’s career.
“His traveling team, when I was in grade school, I was the ball boy for that, and when I started playing as a freshman in high school, he was a senior and he helped me big time for that,” Holzhueter said. “As a freshman, you’re not always the most confident, and he would always make a little comment here or there and even a little coaching. He’s a role model and he set the example for me of how to play.”
Galen has been compared to his brother Greg many times. Both were star players and team leaders. But Greg played the point guard position while Galen played the wing position.
“I don’t know if it bothered us, but I don’t know how many times we’ve heard ‘who would win in a one-on-one game between you two,'” Holzhueter said of the comparisons. “We play different positions and you can’t really compare us and we play well together.”
Like his brother, Galen sees himself coaching one day too.
“I’ll probably be getting some more schooling when I’m done here, but somewhere I’ll be involved with some coaching,” Holzhueter said. “I definitely think that it is part of my future.”