Athletes compete in organized individual and team sporting events to an audience of spectators. On and off the playing field they are dedicated to their sport, spending hours conditioning and practicing their skills, always anticipating the next game.
Quinn Buckner, who grew up in Phoenix, Ill., and presently lives in Indianapolis, experienced success playing high school and college sports. He continued his athletic career in the professional arena playing for the NBA and in 1976 represented his country as a member of the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
Buckner shares his thoughts on what it takes to be an athlete at the professional level.
Q: When did you start playing basketball?
A: As far back as I can remember I've played basketball -- I played all sports.
Q: What was the first organized program you participated in?
A: I played basketball and was involved in track at the YMCA in Harvey, Ill., and then played in elementary school.
Q: Did you play in middle school?
A: Coolidge Elementary School was first through eighth grade. I played sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade basketball.
Q: What high school did you play for and what were the highlights of your career?
A: I went to Thornridge High School in Dolton, Ill., and played basketball and football all four years. I made the sophomore basketball team as a freshman and was a guard on the varsity team my last three years. I played varsity football as a junior and senior -- all the skill positions with the exception of quarterback. I had a successful basketball career (winning the 1971 and 1972 state championships) and football career. We had a great deal of fun -- I enjoyed playing with the people on the team.
Q: What influenced your decision to play for Indiana University?
A: My dad went to Indiana University and my youngest of two sisters. I went and visited her and felt very comfortable on that campus.
Q: Was it difficult to juggle academics and athletics?
A: No, because of my priority. I'm one of six members in my family, one of four children and academics had a high priority in my household. It wasn't difficult. You just had to prioritize.
Q: What degree did you earn?
A: I have a bachelor's degree in business management and administration.
Q: What were the highlights of your college years?
A: I played IU basketball for four years and two years of football. Winning the NCAA Championship in 1976 was the highlight of my college career.
Q: How did you know you were ready to play professional ball?
A: I've seen some teammates that had some success. I dreamed of it and when the opportunity came up -- I went for it. My dream was always to play on the Olympic team and having been able to do that was the highlight of my athletic career. That was in 1976 and we won the gold medal.
Q: What professional teams did you play for -- how many games a season?
A: I played for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1976 to 1982 and ended my career with the Indiana Pacers in 1986. In between that I played in Boston from 1983 to 1985 and won a championship. If you don't go to the playoffs, you play 82 games -- if you're in the playoffs it depends on how much farther you go.
Q: What is the schedule before and during the season?
A: It's a full-time job now because guys are so much bigger and stronger so in the off-season you have to stay in shape, get into a regimen of strengthening and conditioning. And the players that do that have the most success. If you don't do that your success is short lived.
Q: How did you transition to sports announcer?
A: Coach (Bobby) Knight suggested it, that I consider it. Shortly after I retired he called me with a person who was looking for an announcer and got me involved. I was with ESPN first, but have announced for almost all -- ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS.
Q: What are you currently doing?
A: I'm vice president of communications for Indiana Pacers Sports and Entertainment. I have responsibilities for the media, public information, advertising, Internet marketing, camps and clinics, community relations and the Pacers Foundation.
Q: Are you satisfied with your choices?
A: Overall -- absolutely. I'm satisfied with my direction.
Q: What advice do you have for someone considering this same career path?
A: Try to be as prepared for your goal as possible and always keep an eye on your target. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Real luck is when hard work meets opportunity.