Basketball Alumnus Nate Reinking Playing in the Summer Olympics
London 2012: Another Good Reason to Watch …
By Todd Vatter, Athletic Communications
Nate Reinking wrote in the 1995-96 media guide that his greatest basketball moment was yet to come. Now after a four-year collegiate career at Kent State and playing professionally in Europe for the past 16 years, the 38-year-old is finally about to experience that moment.
As a member of the British national basketball team, Reinking will be representing Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics when the nation hosts the games in London, July 27 – August 12.
"It's probably a little bit of prophecy I guess, it wasn't something I expected or even a dreamed in my mind until a few years ago," says Reinking who graduated from Kent State with a degree in physical fitness in 1997.
"To stand on the floor in the Olympics and have the opportunity to go up against the top players in the world is something special," he says. "Growing up in American everyone has dreams of making it in the NBA. That didn't pan out for me, but to be able to say that I'm a person who has played in the Olympics, I really couldn't ask for anything more."
A four-year letterwinner and 1,400-point scorer for the Golden Flashes, Reinking first embarked on his professional career with the Leicester Riders after his collegiate playing days were over. He returned to Kent State the next year to finish his degree, and then it was back overseas to play for various teams throughout England over the next five years. Having to constantly apply for work visas grew tiresome for the Galion, Ohio, native, so once he reached the required number of years, Reinking applied for dual citizenship.
Focusing on the dream
As the host nation, Great Britain receives an automatic bid as one of the 12 teams represented in the tournament. So the country began its Olympic preparations shortly after defeating Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris for the 2012 bid in the summer of 2005.
Current Houston Rockets assistant coach Chris Finch is the head coach for the British national team, but he was also coaching a team in Belgium at the time. Needing some players that summer to get the nation ready for the Olympics, he knew just where to turn.
"I was playing for Coach Finch in Belgium, and he knew I had dual citizenship. I first started getting involved with the national team that summer," says Reinking, who continued to play under Finch for the professional club team in Belgium the next five seasons.
"During the time in Belgium, I played for Finch each summer, and eventually our team qualified to move up from the B division to the A division. We had played in the last few European championships, so we were competitive enough that they voted us into playing in London since it's the host city," he says.
After starting in the lower division that first year, the national team added Chicago Bulls All-Star Luol Deng the next year and has since picked up more and more talented players with British citizenship.
The nation's only other Olympic appearance came in the London Games of 1948, so they will certainly have their work cut out for them. But Reinking knows they will be up to the challenge.
"We'll be playing against the best of the world, so we're trying to pull together the best British talent we can in order to have a good training camp. And then come August, we are ready to represent the country proudly," he says.
After Reinking completes this season with Sheffield he will join the other members of the national team who are currently scatted about the world in June for a three-week training camp in Houston. From Houston, the team heads back to the U.K. and then has plans to travel to different countries such as Belgium, Lithuania, Russia and Spain for games to help them prepare to face the top teams in the world at the Olympics.
Olympic dreams are not all that Reinking is focused on at this time. He is also wrapping up his coursework for his master's degree in sports and exercise science. Not having been in a college classroom since his days at Kent State, He found that being both a student and an athlete was a shock at first, but he quickly came back.
"I had been out of education for 15 years, so it was a shock to get back into it. The (master's degree) was the big reason I came back to Sheffield this year. And it has actually been fun being back on a campus. You're around the energy of all the young guys and kids," says Reinking.
The recent classroom environment has brought back fond memories of his days at Kent State.
"I usually golf with Coach (Dave) Grube once or twice in the summer and try to stay in contact throughout the year with some of my teammates like Bill Davis Brooke Bright and D.J. Bosse because going to Kent State was one of the best times of my life."
With the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games, Reinking might just be in for another time of his life again this summer and a basketball memory that is sure to last a lifetime.
Rounding out the rest of the 2012 Great Britain Olympic Team roster is current Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who starred at Duke, former Duquesne forward Kieron Achara, former Illinois center Robert Archibald, former Arizona State center Eric Boateng, Dan Clark, Joel Freeland, former Long Island guard Kyle Johnson, former Wofford guard Mike Lenzly, former George Washington big man Pops Mensah-Bonsu, former Villanova forward Andrew Sullivan and current College of Charleston guard Andrew Lawrence. All 12 players will be making their Olympic Games debut.