BY PERRY HUNTER
My kids have no idea where they have been able to go as young children.
They have been to so many places that I wasn’t able to go until I was older, simply because I like basketball and traveling so much.
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t take me to any of these places not because they were mean, but because they weren’t too interested in it themselves.
Me, it’s a different story.
I love history, I love basketball, I love Indiana basketball, and I love the history of Indiana basketball and basketball itself.
When my daughter was almost 2, we traveled to the northeast. We visited athletic facilities at Penn State, Yale, Syracuse, Harvard, Connecticut and Penn.
Yes, we have been to Philadelphia’s Palestra.
Oh yea, we also visited the states in the area and stayed in Boston for a few days.
My daughter got to shoot baskets after we visited the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. She got to play on the University of Tennessee’s court, and then traveled with me when she was 3 to Tobacco Road where we walked around North Carolina, Cameron Indoor at Duke, and got a tour of Wake Forest University with one of my friends, current Wake Forest assistant men’s basketball coach and former IU Southeast head men’s coach, Walt Corbean.
We went to WF first, and when we arrived at UNC, she asked who was going to show us around there. She had no idea that it didn’t happen everywhere to everyone.
When Brandon was just 2 years old, he had already been to Indiana University’s practice facility where he showed his two basketball dribbling skills to men’s coach Tom Crean.
The girls went to Chicago, so he and I went to Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, spent the night in the Steve Alford All-American Inn in New Castle and then spent a few hours at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame where we were given a “behind the scenes” tour with another friend, Hall of Fame executive director Chris May.
He’s been to Loogootee (Jack Butcher), he’s been to Springs Valley (Larry Bird), he’s been to Cloverdale and met Coach Pat Rady (winningest current head coach) as well as meeting all the other high school coaches in the area.
He and his sister have been to IU’s practice facility, to IU basketball and football games, and they both got to play on the football field when I addressed the football team at their weekly chapel.
Finally, I know I am missing something. He got to play at Milan High School. If you don’t know what the big deal is about Milan, you probably shouldn’t be reading the sports section. It is the high school that the 1954 Indiana boys’ state champs inspired the movie “Hoosiers,” which ESPN voted as the greatest sports movie ever.
My kids have been to the athletic facilities at Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Florida, Vanderbilt, and many other universities. They have been to the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Michigan and taken a cruise on the Ohio River.
They have been to so many places that I would have killed to go to when I was younger. Instead, my memories of my youth is my dad coming home tired from work and shooting basketball or throwing baseball, and of my mom supporting me through the ups and downs of athletics from Little League to high school and then to coaching.
None I would trade for any other memories, they gave me so much and loved me even more.
To be fair, we have probably spoiled the kids when it comes to these things, but it really isn’t about them.
It has been about what we have wanted to do. It has been about where we have wanted to go, but more importantly it has been about the idea that we want to have them with us when we travel and to give them great memories.
It’s a statistical fact that everyone will die, and Lord willing, I will die before them.
I want them to have these memories. Maybe not always something they want to do, but something they will be able to remember what they’ve done, who they did it with, and smile and pass on their own experiences and loves to their children.
Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.