One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about friends of my friends. The post below is the story on a friend of a friend for January 27, 2015. This past year our university men’s basketball team at UNC Pembroke was looking for a new assistant coach. The vacancy became available when Ben Thompson left UNCP to go to V.M.I. Our 7th year Head Coach Ben Miller knew who he wanted to hire and his name was Drew Richards. Drew has made a great impact on the 2014/15 Pembroke basketball fortunes and the team is currently nationally ranked with a record of 17-2. Drew is from Rogersville, Mo., and has great success both as a player and coach over the past 10 years. A former player under Ben Miller at Missouri State, Richards made the trip to Pembroke from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. He served as an assistant coach for Cameron (NCAA Division II) during the 2013-14 campaign.
I got to meet him shortly after his arrival at a reception for new faculty and staff in the fall of 2014. At 6’9” it wasn’t hard to miss Drew. We immediately formed a friendship over coaching basketball. Over the Christmas holidays we both discovered we shared a love for beer. He liked my blog on “The beer of the day.” https://coach4aday.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/dec-30-2014-completed-beer-of-the-day-list/ We started giving each other tips on beer. In one of those sessions he told me a great story about a friend of his named Mike Oppland who played professionally in Germany with Drew for the Erdgas Ehingen Steeples. Mike had played for Valparaiso and Truman State. Drew told me that Ehingen is a town situated on the left bank of the Danube River located about 20 miles from Ulm, Germany. The population is under 30,000 and was a friendly place. Drew had a standout collegiate career and that led to a professional playing career in Europe. In 2011 Drew, started coaching at a top flight junior college Missouri State-West Plains and remained there until 2013. The West Plains Grizzlies posted a 42-20 (.677) record, as well as winning the 2012-13 NJCAA Region XVI regular season title. In 2013-14 he was the assistant coach at Lawton State where he was an integral part of the Aggies’ best conference start in school history in 2013-14. Drew played four seasons at Missouri State and led the team to three trips to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). He led the team in blocked shots in each of his last three years at Missouri State. After college he went to Germany to play basketball.
Drew Richards story with Mike Oppland on the German Spa Experience While Mike and I were playing for Erdgas Ehingen Steeples I kept asking the local players and coaching staff what are some experiences Mike and I should get as Americans while we were in Germany. The General Manager of the Ehingen Club was Nico Drmota and he suggested we go to a Kurbad and take in a spa experience. We asked what it was like and all we heard was that at the end of the spa you get to drink great local German Hefeweizen Beer. Nico described everything else but all Mike and I heard was beer. People in the Germany are very health conscious. They are interested in prevention (Vorbeugung) as well as cure. A Kurort is a resort for preventative medicine, recovery, or cure. If it is called a Kurbad it is a German spa. Mike and I were headed to the Kurbad to experience some things I don’t think you will find in America.
The first thing we learned about the German spa is their etiquette is quite different from America when it pertained to clothing. The spa was co-ed and everybody in the spa was nude. Before Mike and I entered the spa we pictured beautiful German women in their twenties and beer. This was going to be the life of milk and honey. When we entered the spa it became evident that no females in their 20’s-30’s or even 40’s were present. We had all body sizes and types except the ones we were looking forward to. What we had were men and women in their 60’s. When Mike and I heard nude spa this wasn’t the visual two guys in there twenties were counting on. We were shocked when we got out of the first pool (did I mention we were naked) and were told to pour honey all over our bodies. The spa had a huge pot of this hot mixture that was loaded with honey. We rubbed it all over our bodies and jumped into a second pool to rinse off. I didn’t believe it but that honey mixture did make my skin feel rejuvenated and smooth. After the rinse off we were directed to the sauna for a steam. After the sauna it was back in the pool to cool off. After that final rinse and cool down we were pointed in the direction of the bar where sure enough they were serving up Hefeweizen beer. I apologize to anyone who might refrain from drinking a hefeweizen because of the visual this story presents. The life a of pro basketball player in Germany is not all milk and honey. Just honey and beer.