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July 1, 2011

H.S. BASKETBALL: Henryville coach gains perspective in Iceland

Hunter helps teach basketball to Icelandic youth

HENRYVILLE — Most area basketball coaches spend their summers traveling around the state with their teams, looking for ways to improve their chances in the upcoming season.

Instead of traveling around Indiana, Perry Hunter took two weeks out of the hectic summer basketball season to travel to Iceland to coach local players.

Hunter — who also teaches history at Henryville — got to work with coaches from Iceland, Spain, Macedonia, Italy and Croatia during his trip to Saodarkrokur to help with the Tindastoll basketball clinic, where Hunter presented clinics on structuring practices and installing the motion offense.

“You see a lot of similiarities when you work with kids, young people,” Hunter said. “I’ve worked in Serbia, Macedonia and Iceland. They all want to learn.

“They respect the United States. Coaches and kids know about Indiana basketball, so there’s a level of credibility that you walk in with, being from Indiana. The United States has credibility, and then being from from Indiana. But you still have to go prove yourself. You’ve got to know what you’re talking about.”

Thankfully for Hunter, English was the language of choice at the camp, and as one of the few who used English as his first language, he found himself translating between coaches and children that had different accents.

“(Serbian coach Goran Miljevic) would send the kids to me — ‘tell him’ — and I would be able to figure out what they wanted,” Hunter said. “And the same thing, the kids couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I could understand enough,and then tell him.”

Although English was the primary means of communication, the universal language was basketball. Hunter and the other coaches put the Icelandic camp-goers through three practices per day for a 10-day stretch. Hunter would like to see the style of play used in Europe become more prevalent stateside.

“They have a 24-second shot clock at all levels, so it’s a lot faster. But they’re still more fundamental than we are,” Hunter said. “With the NBA lockout, I hope that Euro-League games are shown so we can see where we lost our way. They’re still fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals, where as here it’s jump high, be fast, get stronger.”

It was Hunter’s second international trip in less than a year. Last summer, Hunter traveled to Serbia and Macedonia to teach basketball abroad, thanks to friends he made online. The trip — paid for by his hosts in full — could be the start of something beautiful for Hunter, where he could get to be a regular guest in Europe.

“I’m a history and geography teacher, and when you can go and experience the culture instead of reading about it in a book, that is — to me, that’s great,” Hunter said.

Hunter has had to decline trips scheduled for this summer to Ireland, Serbia and Italy, where he would have taught at a clinic in the Alps.

“Serbia, Macedonia last year and this, they’re life-altering,” Hunter said. “They’re not life-changing, because I’m not going to change the way I live, but it’s good to go there, look back at here, appreciate what you have.”

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