Robbie Hummel has always bled Valpo green, and now he is using many of the lessons he learned growing up here at the highest level of professional sports.
Even now, playing against the best basketball players in the world as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Hummel finds inspiration in those he watched play while growing up in Valparaiso.
“There’s so many,” Hummel said during an interview with ValpoLife.com earlier this month. “I watched them all. Scott Volk, Bryce Drew, Matt Handlon, the Rhinehart brothers, Dave Furlin, Joe Nixon. The list is endless.”
“It’s not just the boys either,” he added. “Lisa Furlin was incredible and Jeannette Gray was a beast. The best player by far in the neighborhood.”
Hummel’s inspiration locally is not limited to the players who hit the hardwood at the High School before him, though. The former Purdue University-great says coaches John Knauff, Scott Thomas, Scott Sienkowski, Bob Punter and Steve Osburn have all had a lasting impact on him before he became a Boilermaker.
“Anyone who has played basketball in Valpo has been touched by Coach Osburn,” he said.
His parents have also provided him the means to make his NBA dream come true.
“My dad has been there every step of the way and my mom went back to work at Thomas Jefferson (Middle School) to build us a basketball court in our backyard,” he said. “They did whatever they could to put us in a position to succeed.”
To this day, Hummel keeps tabs on basketball in Valpo, whether it be at his high school alma mater or Valparaiso University.
“Whether I was playing in Europe or this year for the Timberwolves, I watch the Valpo boys and girls and I’ll always watch VU,” he said. “I follow Paul Jankowski on Twitter and I like to see how all the kids are doing.”
“There’s so much pride playing for Valpo,” he added. “When you suit up for the Vikings, you are trying to win for our city. All the leagues I’ve played in are great, but when you put Valpo on your chest it’s important to remember you are playing for your whole city and take pride in that.”
The Robbie Hummel Basketball Camp will make its way back to Northwest Indiana for the second year in a row, being held from June 17-20 at The Fieldhouse in Merrillville. The camp will provide individual instruction on shooting, ball handling, passing, defense and team concepts. "It’s really fun to interact with the kids," said Hummel. "We play some 5-on-5 where I get to be the 'all time point guard' and it’s cool coming full circle teaching the kids just like so many others taught me during all the camps I went to."
“The camp is very fundamentally based," he added. "It's taught by myself and other former college players." Hummel has always dreamed of playing basketball at the highest level, and through hard work he made it happen. In his first year with the Timberwolves, he started five games and averaged 3.4 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game.
“I knew it was possible if you put in the work and never quit,” he said. “I remember playing NCAA Final Four - I think it was the 2000 edition of the video game where we’d play in ‘dynasty’ mode and build the teams we dreamed about.”
The Robbie Hummel story has already taken a memorable path to the world’s greatest stage. And although that path may continue to create great things, Valpo - its starting point - will forever remain the same.