Coaching: International Style


Brendan VanderMeer

Greg Immink instructs players during a drill at a pre-season practice before tryouts.

For Greg Immink, it was unusual to see him outside of a sports event. In fact the 3 sport athlete was described as a “shining star” by Michigan State’s head basketball coach Tom Izzo. Immink’s approach to the game fortified his ability to dominate against his opponents. 

Although Imminks life was surrounded by sports, he eventually turned his talents to basketball. The decision paved Immink’s destiny and allowed him opportunities and success beyond high school.

On average only 1.1% of high school basketball players will play in the NCAA. Only 21.3% of NCAA basketball players will play professionally. Greg Immink, however, would surpass the statistics and become part of an elite group of athletes to play professional basketball. 

“It was something that I worked for for a long time,” Immink said. “I think a big part of success is preparing for your opportunity. I was going to get one shot. If I wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t going to happen.“

Immink’s opportunity came after his time playing basketball at Hope College:  the chance to continue his basketball career playing in Europe. 

“I still had a passion for basketball,” Immink said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play basketball for as long as I could and playing over there gave me a chance to play beyond college. I knew that you only get four years in college so I did everything to give myself an opportunity to keep playing.”

The point guard got in touch with an agent who eventually helped him land a job playing in Germany for a team called TB Weiden. 

“It’s a different way of life, different culture,” Immink said. “You’re at a place where the language you speak is not the language that other people speak.” 

During his second season in Germany, Immink suffered a knee injury resulting in him moving to Slovakia to further pursue his basketball career. 

“It felt pretty seamless. I felt like I was in a good spot,” Immink said. “I think it’s about being prepared for what is ahead of you. Had I not put the time and effort that was needed into the rehab and into the basketball stuff, it would have turned out differently for sure.”

Immink would finish out his career in Slovakia playing for the next three and a half seasons, with recording one of his best. performing in the All-Star game as well as winning the all star three point contest. 

“It’s a lot of work just like anything is when you’re at an elite level,” Immink said. “It’s an amazing amount of work. It’s a grind. You have to be willing to work as hard as that position requires to hold out that position. If you’re not working hard enough to be elite you find yourself without a job real quick.”

With five seasons of playing professional basketball in Europe brings years of experience adding to Immink’s lengthy coaching resume. Immink returns for his 5th season as the head coach for the boys varsity team. 

Immink does a “phenomenal job leading by example” according to Athletic Director Scott Robertson. “Fully invested in the program and then kids in the program, selfless in that way.”

“A lot of the things I teach and try to do come from what I’ve learned in Europe,” Immink said. “I was fortunate enough to play for some good coaches. As you go through your experiences you take the things from certain coaches that you really like and think that are successful.”