Haase and Haase nots | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Haase and Haase nots

Michael Traum

Scarcely a sports fan alive in Lake Tahoe doesn’t know who, what, where or when about the area’s most famous sports son – Jerod Haase. From his years at South Tahoe High School, when he led the Vikings to their second state championship, to his early collegiate days at California and later the transfer to Kansas, Haase’s athletic career has been well-documented.

But 1997 marked an extra-special year for the 23-year-old man – a conclusion of an era and an embarkment on the next.

Haase saw his No. 1 Jayhawks position themselves for a national title. But like in 1996, Kansas, with just one loss, again fell victim to the NCAA single-elimination tournament. Adding to the pain was Haase’s inability to help in crunch time. A broken wrist had finally caught up to him. The shooting guard, whose ticker was equally important as his jumper to the team’s success, was forced to watch from the sidelines as the lights of the big dance dimmed. And with it, college life was over.

However, the dream of playing basketball for a living remained illuminated. Family and friends gathered at the Haase residence in South Lake Tahoe to watch the annual National Basketball Association draft selection show. But it, too, ended it a disappointment of sorts. While many coaches, scouts and other players felt Haase had (and has) the ability to play at the NBA level, no team “took a chance.” The young man’s day ended knowing he’d have a tryout with a pro team.

And those opportunities came and went, with teams like Chicago and Vancouver offering only limited looks, as if cashing in a favor for a friend. Finally an opportunity to play overseas in Macedonia was taken. But that, too, ended without much satisfaction – a two-month stint which offered little in return.

Finally, as the year ended, he returned to the States to finish a book about his senior year at Kansas. It turned out to be a best seller wherever it was marketed. In his unique way, the year ended with a smile.

Through it all, one thing resurfaced again and again. Jerod Haase is a persevering man. Toting an-ear-to-ear grin and a genuine regard for people, he’s a person for whom no challenge in life is unfathomable.

Haase still has designs on playing pro basketball. And some day, 1997 will be just another 12 months in a very successful career.

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