Game Time coach Altman focuses on rock-solid fundamentals


Basketball is life for some. Then there are those who have made basketball their entire life. One of those people is Game Time League coach Gary Altman, who gets involved in basketball any way he can.

Altman, who coaches Active Endeavors/McCurry’s, has been around the game for as long as he can remember. He played both basketball and football at Proviso East High School in the Chicago area, but basketball was always his passion. Altman has always watched, studied, and enjoyed the game.

He has coached for more than 37 years, and in the Hawkeye State, he is a women’s basketball fixture. He has coached everything from Game Time to the Iowa Elite. Altman now coaches the women’s basketball team at Black Hawk College and is entering his second year there.

Altman has also had the pleasure of working with such coaches as Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder and Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly.

“I’ve known Lisa [Bluder] a long time — she and I worked together a lot when she was at St. Ambrose University,” he said. “We go back a long time. I’m a fossil.”

Although he calls Moline, Ill., home now, he makes the trip to North Liberty for every game. Altman loves it that much and thinks the players are worth the trip.

“It’s a little bit of a drive. If I was coming from Iowa City, I would do it forever,” he said. “I enjoy it that much. I enjoy the kids from Iowa.”

Altman didn’t always think he would coach women’s basketball, but he wouldn’t give up the time he had for anything. One thing he doesn’t know is how long he can keep up with the travel and continue coaching in Game Time.

“I’m not sure after this year; I’m getting a little old for the trip over here,” he said. “The coaches and I will talk it over. We’ll see what happens. I enjoy it enough to do it again. It gets hard when you get older. Four in the afternoon driving more than 100 miles round trip from the Quad Cities, it’s tough.”

Incoming Iowa freshman Jaime Printy, one of Altman’s players on Active Endeavor’s/McCurry’s, doesn’t want to see her coach leave anytime soon — she played for Altman before the Game Time team.

“I played for him for AAU a couple of summers ago, so I’m familiar with him. I think it’s really fun playing for him — he’s a great coach,” she said. “He always keeps me positive. If I make a mistake, I’ll look over, and he’ll always be like, ‘It’s all right, just keep going.’ He’s taught me to always stay positive.”

One thing is for sure, Altman didn’t always think he would coach women’s teams, but he says he has learned just at much from them as he hopes the players have from him.

“At the time when I started, if someone would have told me I would have been coaching girls for 37 years, I would have went back to Chicago,” he said, joking. “I wouldn’t have been able to conceive that. It’s been a really good experience and a good way to spend time. I enjoy the kids, and I enjoy working with them.

“I think what I take back with me is high expectations and a higher level of demand, as far as a selflessness and attitude.”

Iowa senior JoAnn Hamlin loves having Altman as her coach this summer, because he keeps things simple and fun.

“He preaches a lot of the basics, which is good for a league like this,” she said. “Because a lot of people try to get away from the basics and freelance a little bit. He likes to preach the basics of boxing out and playing good defense, and forcing people to their non-dominant hands. I enjoy playing for him.”

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