Christian Laettner gives back to the game in Shawano

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 09:26:01-04

He's arguably the greatest college basketball player of all time.  But now, years after his pro career ended, Christian Laettner is giving back to the game.

"I love to teach, I love to talk about it, I love to think about it, I love to practice it, I love to play it," exclaimed Laettner.

The game of basketball helped Christian Laettner fulfill many lifelong dreams, and this week the polarizing former player brought his talents to Shawano.

Laettner explained, "I love coming up here because the kids seem to listen really well and they're respectful and they try to do what I say."
Shawano's varsity head basketball coach talked about the many benefits to having Laettner in town. "For him to come in here and teach these kids how to play even proportionally compared to how he used to play is a great experience and great opportunity for us," said David Ambrosius.

Laettner's clinic focuses on the basics of the game.

"You try to get them better at catching, passing, dribbling and lay-ups.  But then you try to show them some things they can do five-on-five," said Laettner.
8-year-old Dane Hodkiewicz talked about some of the things he learned. "Catch the ball with two hands, pass it with two hands," said Hodkiewicz.

Laettner also taught the intangibles.

"Teaching them how to win.  His intensity is contagious.  It's quite impressive," said camp director Randy Panzer.
"I will learn and then take it into a game and then be a good basketball player," said Dane's older brother Dylan Hodkiewicz.

Being in Northeast Wisconsin gives Laettner the chance to pass along his wealth of knowledge on the basketball court, but it also allows him time to pursue one of his other favorite sports on the water.

An avid muskie fisherman for 20 years, Laettner explained,"I don't love fishing, I only love muskie fishing.  It's similar to sports in some ways.  You have to be patient, you have to be dedicated, you have to be committed, you have to know what you're doing.  It helps if you're good at it."

But it's clear it was the youngsters who felt they reeled in the big catch this week.