Dowagiac senior D.J. Hunt has been coached by his father since he was 5 years old. Hunt has helped the Chieftains to a 10-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll. (Leader photo/File)

Archived Story

Family affair: Hunts enjoying final season together

Published 4:15pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Since the time his son, D.J. Hunt, was 5 years old, Danum Hunt has been there as his coach.

Now, all these years later, the Hunt tandem find themselves in the midst of their final season together as varsity coach and starting guard for the Dowagiac boys basketball team.

With the current season past the midway point, both Hunts have begun to reflect on the final leg of their unique, and special, journey together.

“We have been a 1-2 tandem since he started (playing) sports,” Danum Hunt said. “It’s incredible. At times, at first, it was a little difficult. You’re a father, you’re coaching your son and you have to learn to seperate the two and have balance.

“This season, it is a little bittersweet for me. (D.J.) is here, he’s a senior and he plays for me, but at the same time I know that he’s going to be gone after this year.”

Added the younger Hunt: “I started thinking about that like two weeks ago. I have about another month and a half, and then I will never play for my dad again. That will be a very sentimental time, and I might shed a tear. That will be hard.

“Right now, in high school, if I am having a problem I can just talk to my dad, but when I am off to college and on my own, I’m going to miss that a lot.”

In the process of selecting a college at which he is projected as a strong side linebacker for football, D.J. Hunt averages 12 points a game for a Dowagiac team that entered the week with a 10-1 overall record and ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Class B poll.

Now in his fourth season as varsity head coach, Danum Hunt admitted his initial hesitation with taking the job, but saw it as a golden opportunity.

“I had been coaching D.J. and the other (seniors) since they were in fourth grade, so I felt it would be a good opportunity to not only start with them, but also end this chapter of their lives with them,” Danum Hunt said. “We ended up here. I’ve had fun watching him develop as a young man, I’ve had fun watching him develop as a player and I have learned from him, as well, as a father and as a coach.”

But both agreed the first two high school seasons together were not always smooth.

“Freshman and sophomore years we had a couple of struggles,” recalled D.J. Hunt. “I felt that he was pushing me too hard, but I understand now why he does that. He wants me to be the best I can possibly be.”

“We had a few struggles, there, to begin with, but at the end of the day I’ve always wanted the best for him and pushed him to be his best and to excel not only in athletics, but the classroom, as well,” Danum Hunt added. “He has done that. I am really proud to have him as my son.”

Danum Hunt said that his son has accepted the role as a primary communicator with his teammates, both on and off the court.

“He’s been not only a player, he’s also been like my assistant coach,” the elder Hunt said. “When it comes to communicating with the team and getting messages out and relaying the sentiments of what I’m feeling and thinking, he’s been on top of that; that’s been his job, as well.”

“He doesnt’t even really have to say anything,” D.J. Hunt added. “I know what he’s thinking, just by looking at him. It’s second nature.”

When they return home after a basketball game, the Hunts normally sit and watch film together and discuss the game. It is something that both will miss after this season.

“I am going to miss him when he’s gone,” Danum Hunt said. “I hate to see him go, but at the same time I am proud of the young man he has developed into and the man he’s going to be.

“It’s been really great for me and it will be fun to watch him perform at the next level in football.”

“I know I can call him at any time of the day or night, and he’s always going to be there for me,” D.J Hunt said. “I might not always like what he has to say, but it will be what I need to hear and that’s a good thing.”

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