By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Inspired by the year Wisconsin officially became a state in 1848, former Green Bay East boys’ basketball standout Harry Boyce wanted to offer players from northeastern Wisconsin an opportunity to advance their basketball careers.
From Boyce’s dream, Team 1848 — an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team headquartered in Hobart — became a reality several years ago while Boyce was winding down his professional basketball career overseas.
The mission of Team 1848 “is designed to provide young men and women an opportunity to participate in basketball while gaining valuable life skills, which will help improve their quality of life.”
“I always wanted to give back to the community when I got older,” said Boyce, a 2004 East graduate. “I was playing professionally overseas, but in the offseason around May, I’d come home and coach a (different) AAU team. I felt like maybe the team wasn’t quite getting what they needed — I was only a coach at the time.”
Toward the end of one of those summers, Boyce, who played professionally in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Egypt, Dominican Republic and China for nine years, said he first began thinking about starting his own AAU program.
“I was about to go back to Germany to play and one of the parents said, ‘Why don’t you start your own program?’ Boyce recalled. “The parents took care of everything while I was gone to get us going.”
Boyce figured it would be a year or two type of thing, but now Team 1848 consists of squads consisting of boys and girls entering grades 3-12.
“I never intended for it to grow into a full program,” he said. “I figured I’d coach a top 17U team every year and go from there. I eventually turned it into a full program. We’re the third biggest city in the state, so we needed something.”
Boyce said some of the team names they came up with were “terrible,” but Team 1848 was different.
“It has a nice ring to it,” he said. “Sometimes we call ourselves 1848 or 48ers. We’ve got some different nicknames.”
Boyce’s first sixth-grade boys’ teams are this year and next year’s graduating classes.
“These next two graduating classes are the longest-tenured teams we have,” he said. “There are some great players on these teams from this area, but I think we’ve helped develop them over the years — I can’t say they were all that great when we had them in sixth grade.”
Former Notre Dame Academy boys’ coach AJ Alexander and former Notre Dame and UW-Green Bay star Allie LeClair were the original coaches of that age group.
“After that, a good friend of mine, Mario Charles, took over the team,” Boyce said. “We worked on development and skills — we made sure the team stayed together. We coached them hard — as we do for all our teams. My role is the director of Team 1848 — I go out and recruit the kids.”
Team 1848 players from the graduating class of 2023 include Bay Port’s AJ Lieuwen and Vince Vandervest, Green Bay Southwest’s Connor Pytleski, Appleton West’s Mikail Harmison, Notre Dame’s Emmett Lawton and Ethan Atim-Wall, Valders’ Jackson Olson, De Pere’s Hogan Demovsky, Appleton North’s Garrett Staszak and Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran’s Tristan Lynch.
“For example, Hogan Demovsky barely got minutes last year (as a junior for De Pere), but now he’s a big piece of this year’s team,” Boyce said. “He’s under the radar as a player but fits our system. We take these guys all over the country, and we win. We will get better — there’s no
need to head to Milwaukee to play AAU. You can stay right here in Green Bay.”
A word from the players
Pytleski, a second-team all-conference selection in the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) last season, is currently averaging 20 points per game for the 7-8 Trojans.
“I’ve had a great experience playing with Team 1848,” Pytleski said. “Harry and Mario are great developers of talent and pushed us hard over the years. Mario is a great coach. It was a lot of fun playing with so many great players and traveling all over.”
Pytleski enjoys playing against his AAU teammates, who now play at rival high schools in the area.
“Of course, we want to win every game and do well, but it’s fun playing against AJ, Vince (Bay Port), Emmett, Ethan (Notre Dame) and Hogan (De Pere),” he said. “We are friends before and after the game, but I don’t even think about that during the game.”
Lawton, also a second-team FRCC pick last season and a recent commit to Washington University in St. Louis for basketball, is currently averaging 22 points per game for the 8-5 Tritons.
“It was awesome,” Lawton said of playing for Team 1848. “The team really gelled, and it was a successful four-year run for me. Most AAU basketball is one pass to the wing and a shot goes up. We had a motion offense and found the extra man.”
Lawton said Boyce is a great recruiter.
“In middle school, I ran into him somewhere and he liked me as a player,” Lawton said. “He has the overseas experience and was a professional — he knows what he’s talking about. He’s also a fun guy off the court — not many have that combination.”
In the summer of 2021, Boyce opened The Workshop, a basketball training facility located at 740 Centerline Dr. in the growing village of Hobart.
Before opening The Workshop, Boyce had a facility in the downtown Green Bay area on Kass Street.
“It’s not only helped Team 1848 succeed and thrive, but it’s also filling a void in the area — we needed more gym space,” Boyce said.
The facility also has a weight room, a perch above the courts for players/coaches/fans to observe, a recovery room, an area to watch film and a place for players to hang out.
With the recent completion of the Highway 29 interchange into Hobart, Boyce said there’s potential for the facility to expand even more — thus helping Team 1848 advance even further.