By Rick Morwick
Throughout a career that spans decades, Tom Abernethy has built a basketball resume few Hoosiers can match.
A standout at every level, the Carmel resident has been an Indiana All-Star, an NCAA champion, an NBA player, an Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer and has owned the popular Indiana Basketball Academy in Indianapolis since 1996.
Yet despite those credentials, basketball is not the center of Abernethy’s life. His Christian faith is. And through his new youth program, Bigger Vision BBall, the former Indiana University star has created a way to combine basketball instruction with Bible teaching.
“Over the last three or four years, I’ve been wanting to be a little more purposeful in developing a program for those who might want to have, every week, a basketball side and a Bible lesson or some spiritual teaching,” Abernethy said. “The concept that I’ve been thinking about for many years is how to provide excellent basketball teaching to kids and a program that will emphasize fundamentals and skills to go hand-in-hand with excellent Bible teaching.”
Launched in October 2017, Bigger Vision BBall is designed for boys and girls ages 5 to 13. It combines basketball instruction and Bible teaching with a goal of helping kids become the best players they can be while forging strong Christian character.
Offered through the Indiana Basketball Academy, Bigger Vision BBall is conducted at Traders Point Christian Church in Whitestown. The debut fall session, which included 170 kids, concluded Dec. 16. Registration is under way for the winter session, which runs Jan. 16 through March 10. More than 125 kids have already signed up, and Abernethy, a starting forward on IU’s undefeated 1976 NCAA championship team, expects to exceed the 170 who participated in the fall.
“If there’s one word that describes what we do, we encourage kids,” said Abernethy, who played five NBA seasons, including a stint with the Indiana Pacers. “We feel it’s important to encourage kids to play and to learn to be the best that they can be. With Bigger Vision, it’s how to grow your godly character, how to become more Christ-like. Tough things happen in sports and in basketball. There’s so many lessons that can be learned, so as we’re teaching these lessons, we’re emphasizing the importance of them growing and building their faith.
“And then on the basketball side of things, we’re trying to give them an opportunity to get better and really learn the game of basketball.”
For more or to register, visit playiba.com. Cost is $145.