Success Without the Spotlight

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Coach Hunsaker’s a coach on and off the court

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Kyle McDonald | Sports Writer | @kylesportsbias

Utah Valley University men’s basketball Head Coach Dick Hunsaker is part of a rare group of coaches who are loyal to their school and believe that continuity is important with regards to recruiting, style of play, and building trust and relationships.

Hunsaker took over the basketball program during its transition from a junior college to a Division I program.  “It was unusual for me to take such a high risk with my career… to take a junior college to Division I,” Hunsaker would say, but he would have it no other way.  “Utah Valley is a very good fit for me as a coach.  I really enjoy the people here.  Everybody has a humbleness, a camaraderie about everyone, just a nice feeling that I enjoy… it’s been a great run, and it’s been a great ride.”

In the eyes of Coach Hunsaker wins aren’t the most important thing.  It is about the work ethic and developing that principle in the minds of his players to prepare them for life after basketball.  “Nothing good comes easy… if it comes easy it’s probably not worth much.”

UVU isn’t a school that will win every basketball game, every championship or gain much publicity.  Coach Hunsaker likes it that way.  He wants his teams to be remembered for their effort and how hard they worked.  “Just because you win the championship, that is certainly remembered but kids who don’t win it certainly aren’t less successful because of their effort.” For Coach Hunsaker, that effort takes place both on and off the basketball court.  The value of getting an education is great in his eyes and according to him “is as understated as anything I do as the emphasis.”

One of the greatest rewards in coaching that continuity brings is the relationships with former players.  “A benefit for me is the relationship with the former players… to have that you have to have the wins, you have to have the success to have those relationships really connect… but it’s far greater than wins and losses to have those.” It’s these relationships that make coaching worth it.  “I love kids… even kids that step out of bounds or behave…. and it’s sincere it’s not something that I’m manufacturing.”

The importance of the longevity of coaches in any program is that in “some hard times and times where you’re not as successful but in the long run I think that all really pays off and that everyone benefits from that.”  He has coached Ronnie Price, who is in his 10th season in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, Ryan Toolson who is doing amazing things in Spain and internationally, UVU’s first Division I All-American Isaiah William, and other great players who are helping to develop a strong foundation for the future.

Hunsaker knows that the Wolverines might never grace the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine or be ranked in the Top 25 year after year.  He knows in the media there is a very limited amount of print space for Utah Valley but that won’t stop him from doing his job.  “I feel very secure within myself about the type of job I’m able to do.”  He will continue building off the 187 wins he has in 10 seasons at UVU.

However, if ESPN wants to feature Coach Hunsaker and the Wolverines, it wouldn’t be about the wins or the losses.  Coach would want the world to know that “we work and we play the game with intelligence… well prepared fundamental team.” He will also want his players to know that “looking back it’s been certainly the funest and most gratifying experiences of my career.”