Thurday, I went down to Kye's II to listen to IU coach Tom Crean, Bellarmine coach Scotty Davenport and Hall of Famer and former U of L coach Denny Crum speak and take questions from 400 people at The Coaches Raising the Bar for Kids event. The event benefits Greater Clark County Schools, raising money and highlighting the corporation’s academic successes, and does a great job in doing both.
By the time I was 16 years of age, both of my grandfathers (Gilbert Hunter and Frank Jones) had passed away. I will be honest, I missed out not having them around. The main reason is that around 16-23 years old is when you become really, really stupid as a male. You think you know everything, and you don't know anything and you sure as heck will not listen to your dad (sorry Dad). It would have been nice to have someone like a grandfather around to head me in the better direction that my father wanted for me. I have substituted different men like that in my life, from Ed Carroll of Nabb to Jerry Jones from Jeffersonville, but they have left my life for one reason or another through the years.
But, maybe because of that lack of an elder to sit and listen to stories and values and just life in general, I enjoy being around people like the coaches at the Raising the Bar event. To listen to these three men tell stories — especially Coach Crum — is to have that elder to sit and listen to. Yes, you are sharing him with 400 other people, but you appreciate (at least at my age) his experiences, his humor and his humility. His experience and opinions come so easily to people like me who struggle day to day over silly things, and Coach Crum responds to questions like it is so “matter of fact” what you should do.
To listen to these three men answer questions and talk about what is important, from Davenport talking about Jeremy Kendle and Braydon Hobbs wanting to help in Henryville during the Division II NCAA tournament, to Crum (enough said), to Crean actually interviewing Coach Crum at one point, is priceless. Coach Crean, no dummy, realizes when he is around people that he can learn from and he did ask Coach Crum about Crum's defense and other basketball questions. To watch those two interact was well worth the price of admission.
In the last year and a half, if you follow Coach Crean on Twitter, you will have noticed that his tweets have changed. He has become more faith based, retweeting some strong Christian leaders. As a Christian, I appreciate it, and I asked a question at the event: When an IU player graduates or leaves the program, what are three things you hope they take with them from their experiences at IU?
Coach Crean replied that he wants his players to be selfless. He wants them to go out in the world and help, expecting nothing in return, but to do it because it is the right thing to do. He wants his players to be able to go out in the world and be problem solvers — in life we often deal with so many things that has no manual, you have to figure it out on your own. Finally, he wants his players to be the spiritual leaders of their families — he wants them to be the example that their families see and follow.
As I have aged, I realize how little I know and that older guys have so much knowledge to share. The problem is, most of the time, we are either ig-nor-ant or ig-nor-ing these bastions of knowledge, these people who can make our lives easier. We don't take advantage of it. I heard this recently about parents who mess up with their children, but it can also go vice versa when it comes to our elders. Be careful believing you have an unlimited amount of tomorrows. You’ll wake up one day with no more todays.
Perry Hunter is a history teacher and the former varsity boys' basketball coach at Henryville High School. You can read his blog online at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.