Growing up as the son of a junior college basketball coach, Erik Graefe has been around basketball all his life.
The passion he has for the sport now takes him to be the next Abilene High School boys basketball coach.
Graefe will succeed his mentor Terry Taylor after spending six seasons as the Cowboy junior varsity coach and prior to that being the Abilene Middle School head coach.
“I am so excited to have this opportunity,” Graefe said. “It’s humbling. I have been a part of the Cowboy program for a long time and I have really learned a lot from Coach Taylor.”
Graefe said the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about basketball is the smell of the game, particularly at Oscar Swede Gymnasium in Casper, Wyoming, his first memory or recollection of being around the game. Graefe’s father, Bin Graefe, was the basketball influence in his family. A Colby Community College Hall of Fame basketball coach, Erik watched his dad conduct practices, games and the relationships he built with his players.
One of three sons that loved to play the game, Erik describes himself as the average one.
“Both my brothers Troy and Mike were Division 1 basketball players,” he said. “They had the talent. I was probably just average. But I love the game and that is why I love coaching. Troy played at Northern Colorado and Mike played at Idaho State and was in the CBA and the Phoenix Suns camp.”
Erik spent two years playing basketball at Central Wyoming before a journey to Idaho State, Pittsburg State and finally Kansas State to finish his degree. Graefe started teaching at Kansas State and followed the Wildcat basketball program. While beginning his teaching at the university in Manhattan, Graefe served as an assistant coach to Manhattan High School coach Terry Taylor.
“I have been around Coach Taylor for a long time,” Graefe said. “I owe him a lot because I learned a lot from him. I am honored to follow him as coach here in Abilene. Coach Taylor did so many great things and I want to honor those things.”
Graefe should expect a key core group of juniors and seniors to be the base for his first team in Abilene. A group that is used to winning, winning the NCKL conference and coming within two points of making a trip to the Class 4A state tournament this past season.
“We’ll have a group of seniors that have a lot of experience playing at the varsity level,” Graefe said. “I am really excited to get the guys together and see what they can do.”
Graefe and his coaching staff are supposed to have a basketball camp this summer but right now the plans change from one day to the next with the COVID-19 pandemic regulations and restrictions in place.
Originally slated for the second week in June, the Cowboy Camp may have to be rescheduled due to the restrictions.
“We’ll have a camp sometime,” he said. “When it is safe.”
Contact Ron Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.