Former Rochelle student-athlete Max Basler was playing through his sophomore football season at Aurora University when his team created perhaps his favorite memory from his four-year career with the Spartans.
Basler and his teammates were locked in a tough battle with Benedictine University for the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference title in November 2016. Leading by one point on Senior Day, the Spartans went to overtime, scoring a touchdown and adding an extra point to go ahead 28-21. Despite surrendering a touchdown to Benedictine, the Spartans blocked the point-after attempt, winning the game 28-27 and claiming the NACC crown.
The play found its way onto SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship sports program, and it was one of two moments Basler was quick to recount when reflecting on his career with the Spartans. The other was a 28-21 win over Rockford University in October 2017, when Basler recorded one of two sacks on Rockford’s final drive of the game to seal a victory for the Spartans. Basler graduated this spring with his bachelor’s degree.
“I enjoyed being able to play the game with some of my best friends, and I enjoyed being able to hang out with them on a daily basis,” Basler said. “Aurora University really helped me as a player by making me quicker, faster and a better pass rusher… As a person, the football program helped me overcome my shyness by forcing me out of my comfort zone. Because of that, I now feel comfortable in any situation I’m in.”
Basler finished his senior season this past fall with 10 total tackles including a season-high three tackles against Adrian College on Sept. 15, 2018. The 5-foot-10, 245-pound defensive lineman ended his career with 29 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and one forced fumble. Basler earned a NACC All-Conference Honorable Mention his junior season.
“My senior season went pretty well,” Basler said. “I didn’t have the same numbers as I did last season but I was definitely creating more opportunities for my teammates… After playing four years at Aurora University, I learned a lot about what it truly means to be hard working, and I’ve made hundreds of friends. We share a bond that can never be broken.”
With his academic and athletic careers behind him, Basler will be enlisting in the U.S. Army and attending basic training Nov. 5. He plans to attend officer candidate school, where he will train to become an officer, upon completing basic training. One of Basler’s favorite hobbies is weightlifting, and he said he wants to one day own his own gym.
“It’s not the games I will miss the most, but the practices because we had so many fun and exciting moments that we created,” Basler said. “We spent more time in practice than we spent on the field during games.”