Northwoods Spotlight - Northland Pines basketball brothers - Mar 5Submitted: 03/05/2014
Story By Joe Dufek

EAGLE RIVER - Last week, the season ended for the Northland Pines boys basketball team. The team only won one game all season long.

But for one Eagle River family, great memories were made - despite the record.

That's because one of the sons is able to enjoy life from the sidelines - despite obstacles.

Ken Kluever of Eagle River and his wife Carie learned their second child - Austin has spinal bifida. It's is a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube. Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed. Austin will be bound to a wheel chair his whole life.

"I don't even let it be an issue," Austin explains. "I'd like to be either a coach or a sports therapist."

Austin loves sports - just like any teenager. In fact, the family enjoys watching their oldest son Zach play for the Northland Pines basketball team.

"All the guys like (Austin) when he hangs out with the team," Zach said. "Everyone knows him. He is always there. It's a fun time."

"I could see it from the coach's standpoint," Northland Pines head coach Brent Luebke adds. "(Zach) wanted to play for and get the opportunity to represent his brother and his family."

Winning just one game this year, it was a tough season for the Eagles. However, despite all of the losses, game night was always special.

"It's amazing to watch him play and see how good he is," Austin explains. "His shooting and dribbing."

But that doesn't mean Austin was above giving Zach grief after a game - typical for brothers.

"Every now and again, he would say something under his breath," Zach points out with a laugh. "Try not to make it obvious, but he was always there."

"It's made us closer," Ken adds. "We wouldn't change anything we have done."

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