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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There's A Playground at Slugger Field



And a carousel, but I will get to that later.

Growing up, I looked forward so much to going to old Cardinal stadium to watch the Louisville Redbirds play baseball games.  If you are 35 and older, maybe, you will remember for sure guys like Vince Coleman, Willie McGhee and Andy Van Slyke who played at Louisville then later for the parent St. Louis Cardinals (Van Slyke almost killed my sister Jennifer Hayes with a foul ball, if she hadn't moved her head at the last second...it would have been bad).  Two of my favorites, however, were Dave Kable and Gene Roof.  Kable seemed to hit 100 homeruns one summer of my youth and Roof was the son of a former major leaguer was seemed like the consumate pro.  He just played and was good, just never good enough for a long stay in the Big Show. 

You would get your $3.50 general admission ticket and arrive the day of the game and be able to have good seats, in the shade.  Usually in prime foul ball territory and there was that guy there with the net, come on, you remember that guy.  I wonder how many foul balls he actually caught.  But then, you went down to the dugout and got the baseball players to autograph your program.  If you were real lucky they would give you a ball (I never got one).

We went usually on cheap hot dog not, or when the San Diego Chicken was there (I saw him a few times) and was there when they broke the attendance record over overe 35,000.  You went to the games, you did all of those cool things and you sat in your seat and watched the game.  There was rarely a time you went to the concession stand and if you did, it was about 3-5 innings into the game.

The other night, I attended a game at Slugger field and I have been before, many times, but this time I had both of my kids on "Girl Scout" Night.  We arrive and immediately we get their bobble head dolls because you want your child to have the full effect of "fun", I mean, our kids don't have enough junk as it is and to be honest, like I don't have enough junk as it is.

No sooner than we get to our seats, we begin the first of multiple times to the concession stand.  My son loves baseball and watches the Silver Creek baseball team practice and play often, but even he had enough after about 4 innings.  I turn around and my wife and children along with their cousins, the Rays' (except my friend Nick Ray) have gone to play at the playground and the carousel...at the baseball park.

The stuff is there and I have no problem with my wife taking them to get their minds off the game because it is a part of the over all experience, but what about the game?  You spend too much to sit in seats at Slugger Field that don't face home plate and right smack dab in the sun.  I don't see kids trying to get autographs, in fact, I have seen kids told to get away, if you don't have a ticket for that area you have to move away.  Don't get an autograph, go ride the carousel!!!

The way I felt that night and while writing this is a bit of sadness.  My children won't get to know about the pleasure of simplicity and if they do it will be a painful lesson, more than I had to endure.  But also I felt a little like my Grandfather who complained about the designated hitter and other modernizations of the late 1970's when it came to baseball.

Maybe I should let it go.  I mean, The Chicken (got his autograph too!) being used to draw in fans in the 1980's would have appalled my Grandpa Gilbert Hunter.  He would have argued why have this sideshow to bring in fans, there is a baseball game.  In actuallity, the carousel and playground might be less of a "ruination" of the game than some of the things I witnessed as a youth.  Maybe it is the burden of aging, we forget what it was like to be a kid and we complain how "things are getting worse". 

Maybe I should sit with my kids and explain the game of baseball and every once in awhile go ride the carousel with them too and not complain that things have changed because they always do.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Assistant Coach Perry Hunter



No, I have not accepted a position helping anyone out next year.  I am really enjoying the lack of stress right now in my life when it comes just to summer basketball.  But this morning, I had a text conversation with a new head coach who semi-jokingly offered an assistant position with his school.  He wants me to sit down and show some drills and talk to his team and I am honored to be asked to do that type of thing.  It is nice to know that I can still give back to a sport that has given me so much.

I am not going to mention all of the schools' coaches who have reached out, but there have been between 8-10 schools who have "asked", hinting around about me helping them out.  At first, it was nice, but now it is quite humbling.  Who knew that there is some sort of respect for me "out there".  I will probably help someone in the future, maybe not, but knowing that I will have some possibilities is appreciated by me.  It will be good to walk in, work, not live and die with teeenagers making shots, then go home and relax after a game. 

I have enjoyed watching my children playing baseball and softball this spring without much getting in the way and I cannot wait to see if they play other sports in the future.  I do not want to miss my children growing up and doing their thing.  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them play hard, compete, and trying to please my wife and I.

I still do not want to coach my own children, but it used to be 100% sure I would not.  Now, it is 95% sure and every once in awhile it enters my mind and I get a small urge (usually because they think I know nothing about sports, I am dad after all). Then I come back to reality.  Who knows, maybe someday I will decide to be the assistant for my kiddos teams that way I am not in charge and maybe I can keep from wearing my children out over their play.  I am highly competitive and my wife and I both have high expectations for our children.

Most of our high expectations center on two things, behave (listen to your coaches) and play hard.  After that, we want them to have fun while doing those two things and everything else about playing a sport.  That's not asking too much is it?  I think being an older parent has helped me calm down while my children are playing, but they are still young and you will probably see me in the near future acting like a crazy dad in the stands.  I pray that I don't.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Media Attention

It has been over 2 months since the tornado hit Henryville High School and the rest of the town.  Immediately after the storm, the rush of local and national media was overwhelming.  I mean, you couldn't walk through town around the 4 way (we don't have a stop light) without being grabbed and interviewed.  It got to where when I saw someone from Henryville on the television, I wasn't even turning my head because I was getting used to it.  Now I realize the media has a job to do and I didn't mind helping them do their job.  By being interviewed, I was hoping I put forth a semi-intelligent response to represent our town.  I guess that can be debated.

But it got weird or odd to me.  At what point is getting media attention too much or gone too far?  I have only done things with the media if I have been contacted or asked to do (like the column for the News and Tribune), but I started to wonder what my own intent was with all of this.  Am I doing these things for the right reasons?  Am I trying to get notoriety or am I helping to get the Henryville story out?  How presumptuious is it that I think I can get the Henryville story out?  Not everyone thinks like I do, and maybe they don't appreciate what I say or write.  Am I helping?  Does it matter?  Yea, you probably get the idea that I think a lot about this, well really, I think a lot about a lot of things, sometimes my own thinking.  But I digress....

Since this happened, I now have had people from local to national news sources reach out to me.  I guess it is because I am the former basketball coach and it is probably easier to find how to contact me, but it has been humbling.  Why me? I mean, I have phone numbers for direct lines to national news agencies when I used to not even be able to get Mike Hutsell on the line at the News and Tribune (just kidding Mike, I know I can text you right now).

Here is what I believe.  I believe that as long as the media wants to interview me, the baseball coach, our principal, the AD....anyone from Henryville, the longer the story will stay "out there".  The longer that happens, maybe the better chance that someone will be helped because of a story and a name that has been mentioned.  If that brings some attention to me (it isn't important if it does, but it might happen) then so be it.  I finally have become somewhat comfortable that I am in a position to maybe help one person or more if allowed.  That's all I want to do is help and maybe I can do it in a different way than what someone else might do.

So what's the dilemma?  The dilemma is a personal one for me.  I am not judging anyone at all here, I am reflecting on my own beliefs in this situation.  When being interviewed as basketball coach at any time, it was clear to me what I was doing.  I was being recognized to try and bring attention to our program.  For some reason this situation was, at first, very different.  I really believe that if I were searching out attention for attention sake that is wrong because I don't believe it is about me.  That's why I have tried to use many names of people who are just like me in this situation when talking to the media.  I am no better than anyone and much better off than many of the people involved in this whole thing.  I know this, I really do.

Dependent on what you believe, you can decide for yourself.  I have spelled out the dilemma I face every single time I go public and I guess it is up to you to decide for yourself why you think I do it.  I mean, even the blog I started was for me and it wasn't really for anyone else to read.  I didn't mind if they did, but that's not why I started it.  But with attention I can tell you that it is to get the story of Darrell Gilles and his family out there, to talk about what happened with the Troncin family during the storm, and have you, the people, to take a look at your own lives, appreciate what you have and to get good perspective.

Thank You Lady Antebellum



The country music group Lady Antebellum performed a charity concert in Louisville, KY at the KFC! Yum Center.  They were able to raise $285,000 for the Henryville community.

They also gave the Henryville community a wonderful, fun night of music for our students while performing hits such as We Own the Night and Need You Now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Get Motivated Business Seminar



A few years ago, I attended Get Motivated Seminar and I really believe that it was one of the things that got me headed in the right direction.  The speakers that day were Rudy Giuliani, Laura Bush, Terry Bradshaw, Rick Pitino and others.  Things I took from there that day were worth the cost and time I put into it.

If you get a chance, attend.  I promise that everyone will come away with something that you weren't expecting.  I promise that to listen to successful people and how they see things compared to the rest of us, you will see things from a different angle.  Mayor Giuliani spoke of his prostate cancer, and when asked if he was upset about it, he claimed that he was actually safer the day he was diagnosed then he was the day before, it was actually a good thing to be diagnosed.  Then he and the doctors knew what they were up against and could start fighting.

The cost is $4.95 with a workbook costing you maybe $10 for a full day of listening to successful people.  When you register, they will contact you to try and get you to upgrade your seats and you can do that or not, but I highly recommend that you attend one of these seminars.  If not in Louisville on June 20th, attend when it is in your area.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sanctus Real




Pacers Bandwagon Rolls Nice and Smooth



Yep, I did it this week.  I jumped squarely on the NBA Indiana Pacers bandwagon and it is rolling nice and smooth.  I have done this before with the Colts, but last season it got kind of bumpy, okay a lot bumpy, and I jumped off.  We shall see what the new quarterback does before I decide to get back on or not.  But at the time of this writing, the Pacers won Game 2 in Miami and it made me pay attention to the bandwagon, but by winning in Indianapolis for Game 3 and taking a 2-1 lead in the serious, I am cruising again.

Other than IU, I will support any Indiana sports team, mostly from afar.  But when they are winning, I will have more than a passing interest.  I won't do this with any other state like some of the kids at my school (if Duke is good, they back Duke, if UNC is good, they back Carolina, if U of L is good they wear U of L t shirts). So many don't like people like me when it comes to supporting athletic teams (usually the ones that say "WE lost a tough one last night") because they have been up and down with their team through the good and bad times while people like me with the Pacers and Colts, start paying attention when the team is successful.  I apologize to those people who associate with a team so much they actually believe they are on the team, I understand it can be frustrating (see me with IU fans), but it is who I am.

At least I will admit it.  I love Indiana sports, but just don't care as much when those teams (Colts and Pacers) aren't as good.  You think I am alone?  Check out the Colts season tickets and attendance last year after Peyton Manning was out.  Yes, I do hold myself to a higher standard, but I just don't feel the need to pay attention to what is going on when I am trying so hard to be a father, husband, teacher, and the other things I am doing with my life.  Yes, that sounds incredibly selfish but when it comes to supporting a team or not I am because it is about escaping the real world which can be really tough sometimes.  I mean look even at the average high school event, the more those teams win, the more people show up for the games.

When those teams that I like (I do like them) are being successful, it is nice to be able to take my mind off the daily grind and pay attention and live vicariously through these athletes.  I mean, who wants the Heat to win?  Ok, yes there are some people who do and are adament about it, I know.  I know little, but I know enough to watch and see how they act on the court.  I see how they seem to have little respect for their coach, and I see how they have been hyped to be the greatest team of all time (it seems).  Let them win one (1) title then maybe we can talk about them in the same breath as Bird's Celtics, Magic's Lakers and Jordan's Bulls, or even West's Lakers, Russell's Celtics or Dr. J's Sixeers or maybe not.

What bothers some people is that bandwagon jumpers will try to act as if they have been fans all along.  Kind of like the IU fans this winter....where did they all come from anyway?  That is one team I haven't jumped off and wore my IU clothing through the down years.  But suddenly, IU fans were everywhere and to be honest, it was nice to finally have a reason to wear those clothes again with pride.  And I am doing my best to look the other way at the 50 year old man wearing candy stripe sweat pants that I know two years ago was talking about never watching the Hoosiers again.

In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter why a fan supports a team?  Nah.  Sports should be a release for people like us, fans.  We should be using it for escapism and really, who cares if someone started liking the Pacers now or not?  Who cares if the Colts fans raise and dwindle with wins and losses?  I think what's important is that we have these sports teams around that have had success so that we can get away on a little mini vacation from time to time while these teams play and win.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pro Sports.....yawn













When I was a little kid, I could tell you the World Series champions from 1960 to the present (which would have been 1988 or 1989).  I could tell you all of the national champions in basketball, both college and pro, and I could tell you a lot about the major league baseball players, college basketball players, and NBA players.

I guess it was around the time I graduated from high school that I started to lose interest in those types of things.  I paid attention, but only from a distance as I was busy making mistakes and learning from them in my early to late 20's.  I still enjoyed attending any sporting event live, but watching the games on t.v. started to bore me.  Still to this day, I think I would rather watch a movie at night than a sporting event.  My son, on the other hand, wants to watch only sports and I am hoping that he will help bring back some of that love I had in my own youth.

Then I became the varsity basketball coach at Henryville, I was so busy trying to beat Borden, New Washington, Lanesville, etc. that I started to lose more and more interest in college sports.  I had absolutely no time for pro sports.  I could not stand how lazy I assumed they were playing until the playoffs.  I could not stand all of the stories about off the field/court antics.  I could not stand that these guys thought they were above the game and everyone else.  I could not stand the mentality that had seeped into the thinking of the players which was influencing our kids.

To be fair, I am sure that is how pro athletes have always been (mind you, not all of them) but I have grown up (some men actually do that) and I have lost interest.  However, I have friends who are really into pro sports and I just can't get into talking about this stuff with them.  I don't know much about the players anymore and I guess I don't really care.  With every new story about a sports hero gone bad, I get more and more agitated with what I see.  I would rather talk about how my kids played well or things they need to work on.  I guess it is the loss of innocence for me.  The more I paid attention to what was going on, the less I cared about the players. 

It seems that every single player that I enjoyed watching on the court and field had some hugely negative issue in their background.  When I was 10, I didn't understand or cared about that, but when I was 25, I started to see the effects that could have on a kid who is 10.  That's unfair to all athletes, and it is probably unfair to myself to feel that way and to have some of that joy removed.

Which gets me to the athletics that I really do enjoy watching; high school sports.  I have written about this before, but you just can't beat a young man or woman competing for the thrill of competition.  They are not playing for endorsements, they are not playing for professional legacy, they are not playing for fame.  They are playing for the love of the game, for the name on the front of the jersey, and for their communities.

Give me a high school rivalry game any day over professional sports.  Give me a high school state tournament over the NCAA tournament (the courts are soooo far away from the bleachers) or the NBA playoffs.  Give me Bryce Very of Providence and Evan Embry of Henryville battling on the golf course over the PGA.  And give me Jeff Schroeder with Henryville baseball over any coach in professional sports.

But, don't get me wrong.  If someone wants to attend a professional event, I do enjoy live events.  Especially if the tickets are free.

Monday, May 14, 2012

United States I Have Visited



Along with the countries of Germany, Iceland, Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

Seal of God by Chad Williams



I was given a book by Silver Creek High School's boys' basketball coach Brandon Hoffman called Seal of God to read and return.  It is a good book explaining Chad Williams and his past from his young rebellious days, to training to become a Navy SEAL, to his conversion in following Jesus Christ.

This book is recommended if you like this kind of thing...happy reading.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Night of Hoops and Hope Part II



Check out Eastern Pekin's girls' coach Mike McBride and myself being interviewed by cn 2's Chip Cosby about the fundraiser all star game this Saturday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sign of the Apocalypse?



Two of the most storied basketball programs in college basketball history cannot come to an agreement on continuing a series that is quintessentially college basketball.  You can throw in California and Texas when it comes to elite players, but North Carolina is the only state that comes close to Indiana and Kentucky when it comes to being basketball states.

Indiana has its rich history of high school basketball, numerous universities that have had NCAA success or been in the tournament and the Pacers who are up and down, but Indianapolis has a pro team.  Kentucky is the only state in the union that can rival Indiana when it comes to a rich high school history, they have numerous universities that have had NCAA success or been in the tournament, and the old Kentucky Colones.  When I have traveled over seas, everyone has heard about Indiana basketball and they ask about Kentucky when they realize I am from southern Indiana.

Can the Governors' step in?  State legislatures?  The people of the two states?  I realize there are more important things that politicians should be doing than stepping into whether two college teams should play in the regular season or not (when they decide to get to work doing those things, call me), but this is IU vs. UK.  It would be like Duke and North Carolina not playing, or Indiana and Purdue, or UK and Louisville dropping their series. 

Does anyone care?  I don't hear much complaint.  I personally feel it is one of those things from my childhood that I was able to still hold onto as an adult.  The cynicism of being an adult goes away for two hours when these two teams play.  It reminds me of Randy Wittman and Kyle Macy, Joe B. Hall and Bob Knight, Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Hord, Sam Bowie and Steve Alford, Damon Bailey and Jamal Mashburn, Calbert Cheaney and Walter McCarty.  It's Knight slapping Hall on the back of the head, it's Pitino's press, it's Mike Davis running on the floor while the game is still going on, it is Travis Ford's half court shot at the buzzer of halftime, it is Christian Watford's shot at the buzzer at the end of the game.

The two universities played their first games in the 1920's and renewed the series in the 1969-70 season.  This series has caused so many great memories for both schools to give this up is a travesty.  But again, it might just be me that feels this way.  Here in southern Indiana, this is THE game of the year.  We often, down here, don't understand the Purdue rivalry as much as we do the UK rivalry.  Again, it could be me.  I see Michigan State shirts, North Carolina shirts, Duke shirts, whoever is good at the moment shirts, UK shirts, U of L shirts, and IU shirts (where did all these IU fans come from this year?) in this part of the state each year.

Whose fault is it?  The game was played on campuses from 1976 - 1986 then moved to Freedom Hall in Louisville and the dome in Indianapolis.  I have been to games in domes and on campus and the games on campus are much, much better atmospheres in my opinion.  UK wanted to move the games back to campuses a few years ago and now they want them on neutral sites.  Coach Calipari says that there are lots of people who want to play them, I agree, but this is Indiana and Kentucky.

Whose fault is it?  Reasons I am hearing is that Calipari wants to recruit Indiana more (who can blame him), that Calipari doesn't want to go back to Bloomington again (who can blame him).  There were many stories about UK fans being verbally and physicall abused at the IU game in Bloomington this past year, but I am going to bet that UK fans heard more profanity and more were injured after winning the national semi final game and trouble ignited in Lexington by people celebrating. But the game will be played at Lexington this winter what better way to get revenge for the abuse they endured?  IU will have a top 5 team coming into Rupp Arena in a hostile atmosphere that could catapault it to a national championship too or keep Cal's undefeated streak at Rupp alive.

Whose fault is it?  UK said they would play both games in Indiana, off campus and Coach Crean wants the students to be able to afford the game and be able to travel there.  I just cannot believe that it has come to this, that there will be no regular season game next season in one of the greatest rivalries ever and one that is starting to heat up again.

The only thing that might compare to this negative turn of events when it comes to hoops is the Indiana vs. Kentucky high school series coming to an end...and there is serious talk of that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Night of Hoops and Hope



Almost immediately after the tornado hit, HoosierHillsHoops.com and Southern Indiana all around basketball guy Matt Denison contacted me about doing a benefit basketball game for Henryville.  We talked about it and decided to include the most local schools that were also affected in Eastern (Pekin), Borden, New Washington as well as HHS.  We thought and do think that this wasn't just one small community affected, but the larger local community.  We felt it was important to have a night to raise money, but to also have a basketball night for the fans as well.  Fans would feel they are helping in some way, but getting something they love in return - a night of basketball.

With much work done on Denison's part, we will have A Night of Hoops and Hope on May 12 at Silver Creek High School. Seniors from affected areas as well as seniors from Clark, Floyd, Harrison, and Washington counties, will participate in boys' and girls' all-star games. The girls' game is scheduled for 6 PM with the boys' to play at 8:30. Admission to the games will be $5. All proceeds will be donated to the communities affected by the storms into relief funds that will be selected by the organizing committee of the games .  Denison has spent a considerable amount of time organizing this event with no pay for himself and trying to maximize both the funds that will be raised, but the entertainment of the event as well.

A Night of Hoops and Hope, I am not sure if we can have too many opportunities to spread hope in anything we do and Denison has found something with this that he and I have in common - basketball.  It doesn't matter if it deals with the tornado event or being a father or husband, hope is the only thing that many people in these areas have left and hope, when you have lost everything, might be the only thing that keeps you going forward.  Even though the actual tornado has gone (it did so within minutes) the effects of the tornado will be around for many years; from the changed landscape to the psychological issues, the "tornado" is not gone.

The boys's and girls' coaches from all four schools have donated something along the way and they are: Borden's Terry Rademacher and Doc Nash, New Washington's Jon May and Terry White, Eastern (Pekin)'s Scott Newcomb and Mike McBride, Henryville's Josh Conrad and myself.  Along with us, Martin Luther and Mitchell Speedy have provided support to Denison.  Also, marketing and public relations have been handled by Bob Gunnell with Boxcar Public Relations, the referees’ coordinator is Damon Smith with South Central Officials’ Association, the communications and media liasion is Kenzie Winstead, and the managing financial institution is Your Community Bank.

It is wonderful that so many people have been involved with this event.  But, I think, it is important that what Denison has organized is not just a fundraiser, but also a night of fun for everyone.  Thanks to all people involved in making this night possible.  From Matt Denison to all of the people volunteering their time, to the gate workers, to the people working for free at Silver Creek; the giving of people in the aftermath of the tornado is unprecedented in anything I have seen in my life.

Go to http://www.hoosierhillshoops.com/ for more details, and make plans to come out May 12  at 6 PM and support your community who will be dealing with this devastating event for years to come.