Don Ehler ‘88
Don ‘Donnie’ Ehler is widely known as one of the greatest players to put on the Axemen jersey. Sitting fourth all-time in career points; the Windsor, Nova Scotia native is also second in career free throws made. His 1981-1982 campaign was tough to beat, averaging 29 points a game and a total of 522 points - fifth all-time in the AUS for points in a season.
Years playing for the axemen and some of your best memories.
“Growing up in Windsor; only about 20 minutes away, I always came up and got really into Acadia basketball. Back then, the gym was packed every game and the atmosphere was unbelievable. When I was there, having guys like Ted Upshaw and Mike Hazard, it lifted my game and competitive spirit. I mean, just to be a part of the program after listening to the games on the radio, truly special for me. With that, I knew what Acadia basketball was all about when I was making my decision out of high school… I got to meet some of the current players at the time and my high school coach would do a great job in bringing them in. It was just a very cool time for the program, every game was packed, the fans and the community all wanted you to do well.“
Connection with the program now.
“When I left, I still considered myself a ‘gym rat’ and was playing a lot. I played in a senior league with the Acadia guys who went to the national final in 1989, we actually ended up going to the national final for Senior Men’s as well. I’ve stayed in touch with most of them and knew a lot of the younger players at the time, guys like Peter Morris who is still a very good friend of mine. Greats like Ted Upshaw, these relationships I still have are truly special for me; we all just loved the game so much and that hasn’t changed over the years. I enjoy going to the games now and talking to current coaches, back when Dave Nutbrown was still here; I use to have lunch with him all the time and we would just talk basketball. Guy’s like Ian MacMillan who coached me in high school and at Acadia, we remain very close. My two sons went to Acadia too so I still consider this school very close to my heart, what it did for me as a person… I’ll never forget it.“
What Acadia and Acadia basketball did for you after graduation.
“The Discipline is the biggest thing; combining class and sports helped me so much as I got older. Meetings, practice; to and from, eating before and after, it was between 3-4 hours every day you were with your teammates. Managing that with school and being a leader in the community, it was huge in my transition. I ended up being a manager for Kraft foods for most of my career, all the meetings and knowledge I gained in the business program was great to have under my belt. Especially at Acadia, you meet so many people and your social skills continue to grow. I can remember the people we had in our residence from across the world, we all were together; no matter if you were an athlete, international student, that’s what Acadia is all about. You see so many different viewpoints, perspectives of people, all things you may not see at a larger school.“
The culture at Acadia and basketball history.
“Looking back, the students were so engaged in the sports teams. Saturday’s meant everybody was going to the football game, or Friday nights were meant for basketball – the culture was unbelievable. Winning is so important here and especially football and basketball, I mean both teams were trying to win a National Championship every year. I see that fan engagement today, weekends at the Scotiabank Center and seeing the students, it’s important to have that. Being at a smaller school, if you were on a sports team, it was a cool feeling. It was a perfect mix of feeling that pride but knowing you were just like everybody else, being around the library, gym, residence, the culture’s tough to describe. If you could see the gym the way it was back then, I mean, the stands at our games, it was a zoo how packed it was. Students dressing up, football guys doing their part, those were the days“
The current team and their #RoadToNationals.
“I really like Ben Miller and the grit and competitivenes
s he plays with, you can tell he doesn’t back down from anyone and I think you really need that when competing on the national stage. Nissen is great too and has gotten a lot better, being on the national team has clearly helped. They have a good core group and I think anybody can win the AUS this year as they have shown they can compete with anyone. If they peak at the right time, good things can happen on the national stage. I do believe to go all the way; you need young guys stepping up and having the ability to go 8 or 9 players deep. I think we’re in it because we have a great team, not just because we’re hosting, I’m very excited!“