Coach Greg Kampe offers life lessons to middle school students

By: Mark Vest, | All | Published January 29, 2014

Oakland University men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe has been coaching basketball for more than 30 years. And while Kampe has plenty of basketball knowledge to offer, that wasn’t the primary reason for his visit to the River Crest Banquet Facility in Rochester Hills Jan. 23. Kampe was there to speak at an end-of-the-season banquet for the seventh- and eighth-grade basketball teams from West Middle School; the seventh-grade team, coached by Toni Gasparovic, won a city championship, and went 9-1 on the season, while the eighth-grade team, coached by Brian Trudeau, finished with a record of 7-3. It wasn’t the fundamentals of basketball that was primarily on Kampe’s mind; instead, he attempted to impart lessons that could help the players succeed both on and off the court. Aside from mere talent, prior to speaking to the players, Kampe discussed what character traits appeal to him most when he is considering bringing a player into Oakland’s program. “There’s a toughness issue, a how hard do they play issue, a gentleman issue, a community service issue,” he said. “You try and find out everything you can about the young men. You put the whole thing together. I coach a certain way, and fit’s very important. There’s a whole thing you look at, but character is surely an important issue.” Kampe cited honesty, taking responsibility, both as an individual and as a teammate, along with work ethic, as some of the key components for success as a basketball player and in life. Though not all young basketball players will make it to the NBA, Kampe’s belief is that the work ethic developed and the things that can be learned during the process of striving for that kind of goal could help make them successful in whatever God-given gifts they do have. “I think you can become the best at whatever you’ve been gifted to be good at,” he said. “If you learn it in athletics as a youngster, you can use in something else. Just because you grow up loving basketball and it doesn’t work out doesn’t mean all your work isn’t good work. What your building is the foundation for your life.” While Kampe offered a variety of tips that could benefit the young student-athletes as they move forward in their lives, there is one message he indicated that he wanted to convey more than any other. “How you live your life and the things you do define you,” he said. “And that’s what you have to understand. It’s not that you win a championship — those aren’t the things that define you; it’s what you’ve done to make yourself who you are — that’s what defines you. Are you honest? Are you trustworthy? Do you have integrity? The people that have those things are the successful people.” Hunter Schattler was part of West’s eighth-grade team and has aspirations to play Division I college basketball in the future. Having the opportunity to meet Oakland player Travis Bader and listen to Kampe speak gave him a night he isn’t likely to forget soon. “Real excited,” Schattler said. “It was real nice. It’s a great night.” While Schattler used words like “real nice guy” and “humble” to describe Bader, he also offered his thoughts on what he took away from Kampe’s speech. “Having faith, be a great leader, work hard,” he said. “Everything comes from hard work, and that’s how you develop greatness.”