With weeks of conditioning spoiled briefly by turkey and pie, high school hoopsters across South Dakota will get ready to kick off the first games of the season this December. Rest assured – they will have plenty of time to run lines before that first game. I get nostalgic this time of year because basketball was such an integral part of our family growing up. I played, along with my brothers, my sister, and my father, who was not only an excellent player but also a coach. We had a hoop in our backyard where the neighborhood kids congregated to shoot games of "H.O.R.S.E." and play some pretty ferocious half-court scrimmages. When the season started, we spent hours in the gym playing pick-up games, practicing free throws, running defensive drills, and preparing for a season that was still weeks away.One of my great inspirations growing up was Coach Jerry Applebee, but I had the ultimate resource right at home, my father Harold Thune.My dad played high school ball at Murdo High School and went on to play at the University of Minnesota, where he was named Most Valuable Player. Just this year, he was inducted as an inaugural member into the newly minted South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame. It was the lessons learned on and off the court that helped shape my dad's character.Student athletes learn more through basketball than how to simply shoot a free throw or how to square up to the basket. Through the sport they learn the value of leadership and the importance of a team. Most importantly, they learn that if they can exhibit the same drive and dedication off the court as they do on it, they can accomplish anything.I wish our players, coaches, and fans a safe and successful season of basketball in South Dakota.