Iowa native, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse raises book to Ames
Nick Nurse was a student in Northern Iowa in 1985 when he heard about a book that would influence his career, leading him to become the head coach of the Toronto Raptors and win an NBA championship.
Recently this book, “Freedom in the group” was out of print and was selling on the secondary market for up to $ 900 a copy. This year, Nurse therefore teamed up with Ames-based publisher Championship Productions to launch a reissue of the book. He was in Ames on August 28 for a literary event at the independent Dog-Eared Books.
Nurse was a basketball player at UNI from 1985 to 1989 and would once attend a football game there.
âI love football. I played football in high school (at Carroll Kuemper),â Nurse told the crowd at Dog-Eared Books. âI was there really early as a young freshman. enthusiastic year at my first UNI football match. “
The nurse was sitting in the aisle of the UNI-Dome, about 14 rows away, watching the pre-game warm-ups. He saw football coach Darrell Mudra, nicknamed Dr Victory, climb the stairs. Mudra and Gordon Scoles, assistant track coach at Iowa State, had written “Freedom in the Huddle: The Creative Edge in Coaching Psychology”, which would be published in 1986.
âHe ran right in front of me to the press box and I followed him up there,â Nurse said. “That was his kind of legendary brand as the head coach of the press gallery, and that’s all the symbolism behind ‘Freedom in the Huddle’.”
Mudra told Nurse he has excellent offensive and defensive coordinators and doesn’t need to be on the pitch to control every move he makes.
âBasically, I was like, ‘This guy is really cool. I really like this guy, âNurse said.
Mudra taught a sports psychology course where âFreedom in the Huddleâ was used as a textbook.
But Nurse was a major in accounting and had no plans to become a coach.
âSo I didn’t think about it too much except that I liked the sport,â Nurse said. âThen I decided I wasn’t going to be an accountant and was going to be a basketball coach after four years in the accountancy program. “
Nurse had a copy of âFreedom in the Huddle,â which took on special meaning for him in 1995 when he went to England for his first year of professional coaching, he said.
âI was young – I was around 26,â Nurse said. âI’ve had this book with me all season. I started reading it on the plane ride, and I thought, “This is it, being a professional trainer.”
Nurse had previously been a university coach. His first full-time coaching position was at Grand View University, where, at 23, he was the youngest basketball head coach in the United States.
In England, as head coach of the Birmingham Bullets, Nurse has kept the book with him all season, he said.
âI read it before the game in the locker room. I had just read it over and over again, throughout the season, âNurse said.
Nurse and his Bullets won a championship this first year.
“It was a remarkable championship,” he said. âThey were a team that had never had a record over 0.500 in their 25-year history,â and they beat a championship team that had won the title several years in a row.
Ames High grad wrote a chapter in the relaunched book of Nurse
Over the years, Nurse and Mudra have developed a friendship. They spoke on the phone and exchanged letters – part of their conversation was about training, but much of it was about life, fishing and family.
Nurse’s book “Rapture: Fifteen Teams, Four Countries, One NBA Championship, and How to Find a Way to Win – Damn Near Anywhere” was published in October 2020. A chapter, titled “Freedom in the Huddle”, talks about Mudra and the importance of the Book of Mudra in the life of Nurse.
âCoach Mudra’s family, after this book came out, called me and said thank you very much for honoring our father by putting this chapter in there,â Nurse said.
This sparked a conversation which led to the relaunch of the book “Freedom in the Huddle”. The new version includes the original book in its entirety with some additional chapters and letters exchanged between Nurse and Mudra.
A chapter on Mudra was written by Brandon Hurley, a 2007 Ames High School graduate, a longtime sports writer and editor who has covered Nurse extensively.
In 2018, Hurley was writing for the Carroll Times Herald, Nurse’s hometown newspaper, when he saw the Raptors were going to play the Pacers.
Nurse was an assistant coach for the Raptors at the time, and Hurley traveled to Indianapolis to interview her for a report.
âWe went to a sports bar and sat there for a while on game day,â said Hurley. âHe gave me about two hours and I did a big profile on him, and it kind of just continued from there.
“I continued to follow him and heard rumors that he was going to be named head coach of the Raptors.”
Nurse became Toronto’s head coach in June 2018.
âPeople in Canada actually call me the Nick Nurse reporter,â Hurley said with a laugh. “I continued to follow everything he did.”
Hurley went to Chicago after Nurse became a head coach and interviewed him there. He also interviewed former Iowa State men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg during this trip.
“I spoke to them both before the game,” said Hurley. “I’m a big fan of the NBA in general so being able to cover the NBA from Carroll, Iowa is pretty cool.”
When the relaunch of the book “Freedom in the Huddle” was planned, Nurse called Hurley “out of the blue and asked me to research Darrell Mudra and write a bit for the book,” he said. he declares.
Hurley’s bosses in the Carroll and Jefferson newspapers gave him permission to enter into a contract with Nurse, he said.
Hurley and Nurse discussed marketing and business plan strategies.
âI was pretty shocked at first because Nick was coaching his first season as an NBA head coach, but here he’s working with me,â said Hurley.
Bill Bergan’s Championship Productions re-publishes popular workout book
Championship Productions was founded in 1976 by longtime head coach Bill Bergan at Iowa State, who is now retired from coaching but continues to be president of the publishing company with co-CEO Darryl Bennett.
For many years Bergan coached by day and worked for the production company at night.
âBill started out with track books and videos,â Bennett said. “His initial launches worked so well that he wondered if people would be interested in any material on basketball.”
Bergan experimented with subjects. He’s got prominent names in basketball – people like Lenny Wilkens, Bill Walton, Jerry Tarkanian, and Tom Davis.
âA lot of people wanted to study Tom Davis and what he did in defense and what he did in attack that made him so hard to stop,â Bennett said.
Championship Productions has continued this formula over the years, branching out into more than 20 sports, featuring Hall of Fame members, NCAA Champions, World Champions, and professional athletes and coaches. There are over 3000 individual titles on Championship Productions website.
âWe’ve gone from VHS tapes to DVDs to streaming videos,â Bennett said.
Bergan has hosted a track and field training clinic each for the past 53 years that regularly attracts 600 coaches and track officials. A volleyball clinic has been held for the past 26 years, and Championship also works with the NCAA Final Four organization which hosts regional basketball coaching clinics.
With a career in publishing and marketing, Bennett joined Bergan, who is also his stepfather, at Championship Productions in 1997. Bennett replaced Scoles, one of the authors of “Freedom in the Huddle,” who is left for a coaching position in North Carolina.
Bennett said the story connections around âFreedom in the Huddleâ are amazing.
âBill (Bergan) and Wayne Chandlee and Gordy Scoles all coached at a high school in Waterloo,â Bennett said. âBill comes to Iowa State as a track coach, Wayne goes to Carroll Kuemper as a basketball coach. Gordy goes on tour.
âWayne ends up being Nick Nurse’s high school coach. Bill ends up creating a publishing house. Gordy ends up bumping into Darrell Mudra in Western Illinois, then the two of them at UNI together and writing this book.
Scoles referred Mudra to Bergan to publish the book, Bennett said.
âAnd Bill’s great friend, Wayne’s star athlete, finds the book and turns it into his own amazing book,â Bennett said. “It’s crazy.”
As Bennett read âFreedom in the Huddleâ to prepare it for publication, he noted that one of Nurse’s favorite players in the NBA Development League was former Cyclone star Curtis Stinson, who coached the son of Bennett this summer.
âThere’s something really cool about the little circle of coaches, former athletes who become coaches and all the special connections there,â Bennett said.