Tom Braker was a great athlete when he went to Beaver Dam High School from 1974-76.
He still remembers when he had then-University of Wisconsin head football coach John Jardine and coaches from Nebraska show up to his prep football and basketball games.
“I felt like a kid in a candy story,” Braker said of getting to talk to coaches he idolized on TV and on the radio.
“You’re grinning from ear to ear and you really don’t know what to say,” he added. “You’re dumbfounded.”
Braker, who would end up choosing Wisconsin, was a one-of-a-kind athlete at Beaver Dam High School. And he’s being recognized for it now, as he’ll be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame at halftime of the Golden Beavers’ homecoming game tonight vs. Sauk Prairie.
“That’s a pretty big deal for Beaver Dam,” Braker said. “In little ole Beaver Dam that’s a pretty good accomplishment. It reflects on my family and it goes a long way.”
Braker also played on the baseball team during his time as a Golden Beaver and was a first-team all-Little Ten Conference player in 1976.
In football as a junior in 1974, he was selected all-conference player on both offense and defense, all-region, and second-team all-state player. In basketball he made first-team all-conference his junior and senior year and all-area as a senior in 1975-’76.
Other accomplishments include being selected as BD’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year in 1975-76, being a member of BD’s undefeated LTC championship-winning football team in 1975, and being a member of basketball teams that won back-to-back LTC championships in ‘74-’75 and ‘75-’76.
“We had some great players,” Braker said. “I can’t take credit for all of this. I contributed. We had some good basketball teams. We had a good basketball coach. Charlie McDonald in football; we had a good coach. We had a good team.
“We had a lot of good players on that football team, both my junior and senior year. I can’t take all the credit and some of the credit needs to go to them.”
All of that and more are the things Braker will remember about his days playing as a Golden Beaver.
“What I’m going to remember the most are the friendships I made, the guys I played with, the teams we had, the coaching we had,” he said. “My junior year, when we played football, we were one of the best teams in the state, I think, for our school size. … I remember the big rivalries in basketball. I remember the big rivalries in football. Homecoming, I remember some of that stuff. It’s pretty cool.”