30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why I Love Indiana Basketball

Why do I love Indiana basketball?  For so many reasons.  I want to start with that this is not a negative account on any other coach, not John Calipari (in fact Crean's relationship with Cal has influenced the way I do), not Bob Knight, not anyone, this is why I, Perry Hunter, love Indiana basketball.

First, I am from Indiana.  When I was a little kid, I did like the UK Wildcats and that was because of one reason, a Hoosier by the name of Kyle Macy was on the team.  As I grew up, I started to see the difference between the programs of UK and IU and I fell in love with Steve Alford.  From that year in 1984 when they upset North Carolina, I have been a Hoosier fan.

Second, coaching in Indiana, I have seen the level of respect that not only other states, but other countries have given me, a sub .500 varsity boys' basketball coach.  Just the mere fact that I am a high school coach in Indiana brough instant credibility.

Third, I absolutely love that their are no names on the backs of their jerseys.  I love that they still wear the candy stripe pants.  I am a 21st century type of guy, but I am also quite the traditionalist, and that stuff matters to me.

I could go on and on, but I will finish with Tom Crean.  After what happened to IU post Kelvin Sampson, I spoke with Coach Crean at a team camp.  Just him and me, this is after he shook every kids hand in the gym, but he was quite frank with me.  If he had known the total devastation that the program had been under, it might have made him think differently, but ultimately he said "It's Indiana".

When I first saw him, I kind of thought he was full of it, if you know what I mean.  I mean, how could a guy shake every hand, sign every autograph, and talk to everybody and be real?  Call me cynical.  A a second team camp, my wife had brough my children down to watch us play and I introduced myself to Coach Crean and my kids and wanted a picture.

He proceeded to talk to my daughter about t.v. shows that his daughter of a similar age was into.  He sat her beside him and took real time with her.  My son was two and he could dribble a basketball.  Coach was impressed by that and I told him he could dribble two basketballs at once.  He didn't believe me and at that time someone else came up to speak with him and we walked away. During a down time, Coach Crean walked across the gym to get me and my son because he wanted to see the two ball dribbling little kid.  When my son did the skill, Coach was amazed.

Flash forward a year and half later at the Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association clinic.  Coach Crean was a speaker and when he was finished he stayed and signed every autograph and posed for every picture.  When there was no one left in the building, I walked up to him to introduce myself and he remembered me and asked how my family was doing.  I was speechless.

Finally, after the tornado hit Henryville within a few days I received a text message from Coach Crean.  Me, the former Henryville basketball coach who doesn't have any 6'10 guys who can jump out of the gym.  We texted a few times and he was asking all kinds of questions wanting to know what he could do to help.  Ultimately he ended up speaking with some of the tornado survivors which I can only guess made their day.

And then the other night at the UK post game press conference he says this "my hope, if God will grant me one thing with this team, is that every one of these young men is the spiritual leader of their families as they move forward...."when you can look at them and you know that their kids and their wives look at them, and they know that's the spiritual leadership, spiritual compass of their home. That's important to me."

And that's important to me, too Coach Crean. 

Good luck UK and U of L in the Final Four.  What a great game that should be and to showcase basketball in the Kentuckiana area.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Moving on...?

I don't know why, but I have been asked to write a weekly column for the News and Tribune, a local paper here in southern Indiana.  Why would anyone want to read what I have to say?  I have asked that over and over and have found that some people have reached out when I have written on my blog.  My blog was started by me a few years ago so that I could vent some frustration and really to share my life publicly for me.  I know that sounds like a contradiction, but I never thought in a million years that anyone would read it, maybe coming across it on, but not how it has grown.

I have never found any pressure to write on my blog, I write when I feel like it.  Now, there may be a little more pressure, but as a guest columnist, I just might not make it every week.  I have thought a lot this weekend about what to write about for this week, but try as I have, I keep coming back to the events of March 2.

I thought about writing about Why Providence is Successful!  And I had this great idea about going into great detail how they are fundamental and they rarely make mistakes on offense or defense.  I was going to go in detail about every single thing they do that many teams don't do correctly and Providence does it at a high level, and no Coach Lefevere, a trained monkey couldn't get them to do it. So many coaches compliment you and your team because, I think, we are a little envious, but we wouldn't admit it.

I thought about writing about the Final Four (I am an IU fan) and how this IU team over achieved and is now in the Sweet 16 and how the NCAA set up this rematch between IU and UK (I picked UK to win it all).  I thought about writing how the NCAA tournament is the greatest sports spectacle in this country because it lasts for so long, almost everyone in this country has to know at least something is going on with basketball.

But it keeps coming back to March 2.  Everytime I do something like attend the Sweet 16 for Kentucky high schools, or attend the Tennessee boys' state finals, or the Big Ten tourney, or the Indiana State Finals, I feel that it is unfair to the victims in my hometown.  It is a cruel reality in death and tragedy that the rest of the world goes on.  While you mourn, others go about their lives as if nothing is any different (and it usually isn't for them).

But I also believe that no matter the circumstances one of the best things you can do to honor those who may have died or those who have been devastated is to continue your life; but never forget.  You continue to do those things you always did, but help when possible.  You continue to do those things you always did, and tell as many people what they can do to help.  You continue to do those things you always did, and you tell the stories of true heroism to anyone who will listen.  And yes, you continue to do the things you always did because you enjoy them and life should go on.

If you want to send money to help, send a check to the New Washington State Bank, P.O. Box 243, Henryville, IN 47126.  Make it out to "HHS tornado fund" and you can tag the amount to wherever you want the money to go to; Henryville boys' basketball, girls' basketball, baseball, softball, high school cheerleaders, jr. high cheerleaders, high school, elementary, etc.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dealing with March 2

Since the tornado hit our town and destroyed much of our school at Henryville, I have tried to put on a strong front.  Dealing with the death of my uncle Wayne Hunter and being there for my father and family (I hope I was), understanding how dangerous the situation my wife and I found ourselves in March 2, knowing that my wife felt some trauma too made me feel like I needed to be strong for everyone.  I am not sure I even felt too much.  It wasn't that I didn't care, but I think I was in shock, somewhat. 

I cannot begin to fathom what many people in the communities of Pekin, Borden, Henryville, and Marysville went through.  The stories that are coming out of those places make me look silly for "suffering" anything.  Adults, men and women, but especially the children are dealing with many wounds.  Though the physical suffering was minimal, the psychological suffering has to be severe and will be around for a long while (just imagine the next big storm that comes through).

As a basketball coach, really any kind of coach, we, I think, are taught to put on a strong front, to be a strong leader.  I even think that as men, in general, in rural America, we are taught to be tough, show no emotion.  Well, after one week, I guess my mind decided it was time for me to soak in a little more than I had been doing so when it came to this event.  Last May, I had to leave school one day because I thought I was having a heart attack, I went to the ER, had all the tests run and nothing was wrong with my heart.  The decision by my doctor was that I probably had a panic attack.  That didn't surprise me, as it runs in my family, I guess they can be genetic.

I have a psychology minor so I understood what a panic attack was, in fact, when I was going through it last May, I had a good idea that's what it was I suffered from that day.  I have overcome them until this past Friday night.  I had such a severe panic attack that it woke me up, and I felt my bed shaking (it wasn't, I was).  The feelings you have when this goes on are overwhelming, but I guess my mind and body told me it was time to come face to face with what I went through.  Thank the Lord for my wife who was with me throughout that night.

So what do I feel about what happened?  I understand why I had this happen and I am trying to keep things in perspective.  But, I also feel guilty.  When my story is compared to so many other peoples', those who lost everything and many people who were thrown by the tornado and survived, it is ridiculous (in my mind) to consider myself a "victim". 

The whole point of this article is to make everyone aware who was involved in this event that you do have psychological healing to do as well as physical healing.  Please be aware of your own behavior, the behavior of your loved ones and of course the behavior of your children.

Because if you feel that you can't allow anyone in, if you feel that by talking about it shows weakness, if you think that you have to be strong, I hope you read this and know that even the "strong leader basketball coach" is struggling with what happened.

Friday, March 9, 2012

1 in 2 million

(this part of the school is gone, students would have been located in the hallways and bathroom that no longer exist)
Yep, 1 in 2 million that is what I came up with googling "odds of being in a tornado".  Odds of an F4 tornado hitting your town?  In a town the size of Henryville, it will happen once every 7,000 years.  Hmmmm.  I wonder what they did in 5,000 BC here?

How many times have we personally had tornado warnings, heard the sirens and done little?  I am probably guessing it is a high percentage of people.  I know I am guilty of it...not anymore.

The leadership of our school/s has come under fire for allowing our students to leave 15 minutes early on March 2.  When the buses were pulling away from the school, the sirens in town were going off.  The same sirens we have heard many, many, many times and with zero times of anything happening.  Should we have allowed them to do that?  After walking around the school immediately after the hit, if students had been kept at HHS and HES, we would have been attending a few more than one funeral this week.

So let's run down some possible scenarios from Friday, March 2.

1. Administration could have released students early (only a few schools did this, most stayed in school) probably around noon or 1 PM.  Students would have been cleared from the school which had a 1 in 2 million chance of being hit by an F 4 tornado and gone home.  Not a big deal for the older students, but numerous elementary students could have gone home to homes with no parents.

Possible consequences: Young children are home without supervision and no tornado hits=administration comes under fire.

Young children are home without supervision and tornado hits=administration comes under fire.

2. Administration could have kept students at school not allowing any to leave while sirens were going off in background as is protocol for many schools and businesses.  Students take to safe places in the building.

Possible consequences: All students held after, many parents not knowing where there children are and why the buses aren't running and no tornado means admin overreacted=administration comes under fire.

All students held after, many parents not knowing where their children are and buses aren't running and tornado does hit killing many and wounding even more and buses could have pulled out getting students away from the school=administration comes under fire.

3.  Administration releases students 15 minutes with over 1000 students on their own fending for themselves against a tornado that has 1 in 2 million odds of hitting you.

Possible consequences: Many students killed and injured as bus drivers are swept against the tornado=administration comes under fire.

Zero students/teachers are killed or injured in the school, many bus drivers act bravely and some students are injured because they were home=administration comes under fire.

#3 and the last consequence is what actually occurred on March 2.  Oh to be in a position of leadership...every single consequence has administration coming under fire and someone wanting them to be fired.

My sister, Jennifer Hayes, said recently that "we all need to quit with the 'what ifs'".  I couldn't agree more.  What needs to be done, and I am pretty sure that this is going on is that we need to examine the decisions that led up to what was done on March 2, and I agree.  We need to see what was done right and what we can improve on because as you see every single decision had consequences that would leave someone asking for the head of the administration.

Some are calling what happened dumb luck on both the tornado hitting the town/school and the call to release early and that no one was injured or killed.  Some are saying that God had a hand in it.  This is what I believe: there were many things that occurred that stood out of the normal with me that saved my life, at least kept me from bad inuries.  The call to release early saved lives at the Henryville campus, you cannot argue that because I know where students would have been and I know what happened to those parts of the building.  At Borden schools, the call to keep them at school was the right one as many would have been caught immediately in the storm.

Must have been dumb luck....?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

If You Want to Help and Can't Get Here

To help HHS use the following information: you can donate money for Henryville High School and mail it to the New Washington State Bank at PO Box 243 in Henryville. There are 3 accounts for Henryville tornado relief. Just not which one in the memo line: Henryville school relief, Henryville athletics, or Henryville community relief.

Mike Sipe, Rick Belcher, Cole Belcher, and Adam Kleinert

On March 2, an EF 4 tornado hit the town of Henryville.  Almost immediately an EF 1 was in the area and severe hail hit the town.  Both events were devastating to the town and took the life of my uncle, Wayne Hunter.

On Speith Road after the EF 4 hit, the above four mentioned men risked their lives to go out and search for a family member.  While doing so, they stopped and attended to my aunt and uncle.  After seeing that my uncle was not alive, they turned to my aunt, Lenora Hunter.  She was still alive, but bleeding a lot.

What follows is sketchy information on what happened exactly, I may get some of the details wrong, but the story, in its generality, is correct.  After the F 4 tornado hit, Cole Belcher, Adam Kleinert, and Mike Sipe happened onto my family.  When the hail started falling, Cole Belcher went back for more help and Mike Sipe covered my aunt up and himself to protect themselves from the hail.

The hail was baseball and some was softball size.  If Mike hadn't reacted the way he did, my aunt could have died.  Laying there bleeding and battered, being pummeled by that hail couldn't have been good for her.  Adam, Cole, Mike, and Rick Belcher were able to get my aunt back to one of their houses where they were able to tend to her wounds.  From there they put her in a truck, but the roads were blocked with fallen trees.  From what I have been told, Rick drove wherever there a place to go; road, fields, wherever to get her to an ambulance.

Of course, no one can say for sure what would have happened if thise four guys hadn't shown up that day and helped my aunt, but I do know that if they hadn't the possibility of further injury and possible death increased greatly.  I have spoken with a few of these guys and have thanked them and they are like most of the people in our small town, they don't like the attention and they feel that they did only what was needed and expected.  That they did what anyone else in that given situation might do, that may be true, but they were there and they acted bravely.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Story After Story of Heroism During the Tornado

Silver Creek baseball coach Joe Decker's wife, Stephanie, saved her children's lives.  I can't imagine what they went through that day and pray for them now.  What a blessing that they all lived.

Read yet another story of heroism and the actions taken by a brave mother.

The Word "Great"

(Wayne and Lenora Hunter)
Tonight at our men's small group study, we had a side conversation about the word "great".  My comments are that the word gets thrown around a little too often today.  This IU team is "great", that is a "great" person, it's so "great" that you are here, etc.

But the following are true examples of "great" people during the tornado that hit Henryville.  This is what they were dealing with in this video, you see it as it destroys "downtown" Henryville and HHS.

Wayne Hunter

(Darrell Gilles and children)
Darrell Gilles

Angel Perry

These are just three examples of the actions of people during the tornado that saved lives.  It is amazing that so few people were killed and injured as the EF 4 tornado slammed into so many communities on March 2, 2012.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why Does it Take This?

As many people know, a devastating tornado hit my home town, the town where I coach.  Many homes, businesses and the school are gone. 

I was in the school when it was hit.  I believed that this tornado warning was like all other warnings...and I didn't take it seriously.  I went to a window and saw how dark the sky was and decided I needed to take cover just a precaution.  I had received a text message from the girls' basketball coach Josh Conrad that he and his j.v. coach Kyle Lewis were in his office and I decided it might be smart to go there.

As I approached the door, I could hear the wind picking up outside, very loud.  As I shut the door, my ears popped, they popped again and then I heard a loud sound that had to be the wall of the gymnasium exploding.  At that moment, I hit the ground in the office and covered my head and neck.  Within 30 seconds it was over and there was life before that 30 seconds and our "new normal". 

We opened the door of the office and could tell there had been damage to the school, but we didn't know yet how much.  We were afraid to go anywhere because we knew power lines were down and there was suddenly water everywhere from a ruptured water line.  We eventually made our way out of there and I was struck by how much damage had been done to the building.  Tiles down, windows broken and lockers ripped from the wall, if we had students in the halls as is tornado precaution, we would have had a lot of injured and probably deceased students.

My wife teaches in the elementary and my thoughts turned to her.  Our children were in Sellersburg and I didn't think we both got hit so I was calm about that, but I ran out of the school to try and find a way to find my wife.  The destruction that I saw almost stopped me in my was something you see in a movie or some other community in Oklahoma, Tuscaloosa, or Joplin.  Seeing no way in to the school and with it beginning to rain again, I turned and ran back into the school about the time that baseball hail started falling from the sky.  We now know it was a second super cell and a second tornado touched down, but much weaker and not where I was.

I eventually made my way to the high school office where the state police escorted us out.  We were told to go to the Henryville Community Center next door to the school.  I ran...I found my wife and we hugged.  We consoled students and adults, we were consoled ourselves and eventually made our way up highway 31 (after all students were spoken for) to meet up with my father in law who took us home.

In the time after the tornado hit until we headed home, I saw more love and caring from people towards each other than I might see in a year total.  Why does it take this?  Why does something life threatening move people to help then....why not before?  Why does it take something like this for perspective on what is important?

The most emotional thing I dealt with after the tornado was thinking of my children.  That morning they had acted like a 7 and 4 year old might.  Whiny, tired, not listening or moving fast enough for me, so I got really upset with them.  I kissed and hugged them before they left, but I let them leave with them thinking I was upset with them.  As I headed to school that day, I thought about if something bad happened to me that the way I acted could be their last memory of me.  After surviving the tornado, those emotions hit me over and over that I could have left them with that memory of me...angry...with them.

So now our community will continue to clean up the mess created by this tornado.  The entire school is gone, I can't see how any of it can be salvaged.  We have about 11 weeks of school left, but right now, we have no idea what lies ahead.  We have lost homes, vehicles, and other stuff, but most of us have what really matters...our family and friends.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Myself by "America's Poet" Edgar Guest

I have to live with myself, and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know.

I want to be able as days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye.

I don't want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I've done.

I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself.

And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know

The kind of man I really am;
I don't want to dress myself up in shame.

I want to go out with my head erect
I want to deserve all men's respect;

But here in this struggle for fame and self,
I want to be able to like myself.

I don't want to think as I come and go
That I am bluster and bluff, and empty show.

I never can hide myself from me
I see what others may never see.

I know what others may never know
I never can fool myself - and so

Whatever happens, I want to be,
Self-respecting, and conscience free.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Hardest Part About NOT Coaching Next Year

There are as many reasons as you can think of why I decided to not continue on as the head boys' basketball coach at my current school.  Really, you can name something about coaching and I can explain to you why I have reached the end of my rope at this current. time.

However, there are two reasons that makes me upset, sad, lose composure...whatever you want to call it and those are my two kids.  My wife will support me no matter what I do, coach or not, and really, so will my kids.  I finally broke the news to them about a week ago and my son didn't really understand and my daughter was a little upset.  But when I explained to her why I was doing it and what could happen, she was fine with it.  You could tell she was a little upset, but happy because I was.

But...they had become so much a part of what we were doing.  My daughter would wear her cheerleading outfit for every game.  She would either cheer or not with the high school cheerleaders, but at the games the cheerleaders didn't cheer...she would.  Hard.  Loud.  With all her heart.  I would catch myself during the games watching her impressed at her tumbling abilities and the piercing of her shrill screams when the other team was on the free throw line.

And my son, there isn't a gym he hasn't been in that he doesn't think he owns.  My wife told me that he was extremely impatient to get going to the games and when he would come into the gym his jacket would go flying and he would go right to the middle of the court to grab a basketball to start dribbling.  He would continue to do that until the night was over.  He was in and out of the locker room, he would be in our huddle, he would be giving our players high fives (they seemed to love having him around, and he looked up to them as his heroes.

Knowing that I was taking that away from them was hard, it still is.  I feel I am taking something from them that is not just part of their life, but a fun, important part of their life.  I have had people tell me that I cannot continue to coach just for that reason if it was going to make me miserable, and I agree.  But it really bothers me.  I guess I know that this isn't it for me.  That I will be an assistant at some point and may even coach them.  I do have a key to a gym 24/7 and they will be around the games, but it won't be the same.  They may not notice a difference, but it will be me.