Krug discusses life as fan-favorite
By Erik Buchinger
When a Hortonville boys’ basketball game becomes out of reach for either team, the student section is heard with a “We want Hayden” chant.
Polar Bears’ Hayden Krug scored three points in his junior season and said he gets anxious from the bench when he hears his name being called by his classmates.
“I get really nervous at first, and then I’m thinking, ‘I hope I don’t screw up,’” Krug said. “Then I just kind of go out there and have fun.”
Krug said head coach Matt Hintz tells him to not get distracted when he becomes the focal point of the gym.
“He tells me not to talk with them and focus on the game because that’s what’s important,” Krug said.
Krug said his role on the team is to get the starters pumped up and cheer for them from the bench.
Among his game-day tasks include executing the starting lineup handshakes personalized for each of the five Polar Bear starters prior to games.
Krug said the starters decide the handshake routine but hopes they do not make it too complex.
“It’s really up to the players, and it depends on how complicated they want it,” Krug said. “Well, it can’t be too complicated because otherwise I will forget.”
Krug said his handshake with senior Ryan Krueger is his favorite.
Krug was unaware of his responsibilities as the handshake specialist until right before the first game of the season.
“In practice the day before, Hintz said were not doing handshakes this year,” Krug said. “Then 20 minutes before game time, he says, ‘Krug, we’re doing handshakes tonight.’ I’m like, ‘Oh God, I have to learn five handshakes in 20 minutes. I was petrified out there because I was trying not to forget. It was awful, and he did that just to mess with me. He does that a lot.”
At one practice, Krug had to restart following his first shot of the day.
“We were just warming up, and I grabbed a ball and shot a deep three – air ball of course,” Krug said. “Hintz was like, ‘Krug, go start practice over,’ so I had to go back into the locker room, wait a minute, come back out and start all over. It was pretty funny, and they were all laughing about it.”
Krug labels himself as a member of the “JV splash bros” along with junior Bryce Chronis because the two tied for first in a three-point shooting contest on the JV team last year.
“I hit them when it counted,” Krug said.
When Krug enters the game, the student section begs for him to shoot once he touches the ball, which is what Krug said he thinks as well.
“I’m thinking, ‘Get me the ball,’” Krug said with a laugh. “I at least hope to get a shot up.”
Krug scored the first points of his varsity career on the road against Stevens Point on Dec. 29, which he likes to remind people he scored on the WIAA Division I state champions.
Late in a 19-point home loss to Neenah on Jan. 3, Krug checked into the game and knocked down a free throw in front of the home crowd for his third and final point of the season.
“Everyone was cheering for me pretty loudly, but it was just a free throw,” Krug said. “If I would have scored an actual basket, it would have been a lot more crazy.”
In addition to scoring one point, Krug missed the rim on a 3-pointer in the game.
“After I air-balled that three, I did not hear the end of it for a couple weeks, which was alright,” Krug said. “It was all goodhearted.”
Krug said several teammates gave him a hard time but not as much as senior Charlie Schabo.
Following the game, Krug apologized to the student section directly with a tweet saying, “Sorry student section… The only 3 I know is my 3 point stance @PolarBearFans.”
Krug was referring to his role on the Polar Bears’ football team as a starting offensive lineman.
Krug said among his greatest basketball accomplishments came in a practice freshman year when he made a full-court shot and made a buzzer beater in seventh grade during a 3-on-3 tournament, which broke the rim.
Krug said he will continue his basketball career next year as a senior and has his sights on his final goal.
“I’m going to quadruple my points, so I’m hoping for at least 12,” Krug said.