They spent nearly two decades combined playing basketball in three continents. It was, however, at Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School that Andrew Hunter and Jan-Michael Nation honed their skills and learned valuable life lessons before entering college and the semi-pro leagues.
They recently returned to the Scarborough high school to be honoured as its first Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
“This award means a lot,” said Nation who amassed 1,312 points in four seasons with the Ryerson Rams. “Jean Vanier was instrumental in my growth as an individual and basketball player.”
Hunter, a 6’ 7” forward, echoed similar sentiments.
“Jean Vanier is a truly unique place to learn and a great place for an aspiring athlete to develop their craft,” he said. “I am proud to be a Maverick.”
Hunter earned a scholarship to attend Sacred Heart University in Connecticut where he graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. He worked for a few months as a mobile computing technician with Bell Canada before pursuing a basketball career with clubs in Venezuela, China, France, Mexico, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Finland, Austria, Portugal and Lebanon. In fact, Hunter’s basketball quest took him to 40 countries.
“Basketball provided me with the opportunity to see the world,” added the Toronto-born Hunter who spent a few years in Jamaica as a young child before returning to Canada. “It was quite a learning experience.”
The founder of Huntera Enterprises that recruit and place top athletes with European-based sports franchises, Hunter is enrolled in the University of Reading’s Henley Business School’s MBA program. He begins studies in September.
“I am definitely interested in owning a successful business and this program will help to provide me with the tools I need to do that,” said Hunter whose older sister, Mitzie, is chief executive officer of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance.
Hunter and Nation have been close friends since they met in the mid-1990s when Nation transferred from Weston Collegiate Institute.
“Andrew is a like a brother and we both fed off one another while in high school,” he said. “We did not win an Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Associations’ (OFSAA) championship, but we learned lifelong lessons that are worth more than any title.”
Nation played in France, Germany and England before retiring in 2009 and returning home to become a host youth specialist with the Newcomer Centre of Peel. He also coaches youth basketball players.
In addition to Jean Vanier, he credits his mother – broadcast journalist and political candidate, Karlene Nation – for his success.
“She works hard, she has strong values, she’s focused and she always has a Plan “A” and “B”,” said Nation. “My mom is my inspiration and I love her dearly.”
BY RON FANFAIR