Boys often look up to athletes, and Donté Medder is working hard to mentor young Arcadia men both on and off the basketball court.
Medder, a coach at Saint Theresa Catholic School, has harnessed the powerful message of his own story of overcoming adversity to inspire others to achieve their dreams.
Medder’s father, Mike, was the head basketball coach at Scottsdale Community College for more than 30 years. Young Medder was raised to love sports, particularly basketball. In high school, he was heavily recruited by basketball powerhouse schools such as UCLA, Marquette and UConn.
“I settled on the University of Tulsa,” Medder said. “At that age, I was thinking about how fast I could get to the NBA. If I went to a smaller school, I could get onto the court faster.”
Unfortunately, best-laid plans sometimes backfire.
“During my freshman year, as soon as I was catching on and starting to get some actual love from NBA scouts, I got hurt at the conference tournament,” Medder said.
After undergoing surgery to repair his ACL, he was in rehab for about a year before he was able to return to the game.
“My first game back following my injury, I tore my ACL again,” Medder said.
This time, rehab took longer. In the meantime, Medder transferred to Cal State San Bernardino where he completed his college education.
His plan was to go pro then, but another tear to his ACL put that dream to a halt. Medder took about a year-and-a-half off, and during this transition time, he started helping his friends train to meet their professional goals. This led him to other athletes needing the same service. Without even planning it, Medder soon had a growing business.
“I worked with a lot of pro-level guys who played overseas,” Medder said, “and I helped them get to the NBA, the Olympics and other top global leagues.”
Medder then received the opportunity to coach a couple of kids. One particular boy attended Saint Theresa and then entered Brophy. During this process, the student’s father introduced Medder to Jeff Huber, the physical education teacher and athletic director at Saint Theresa. That meeting culminated with Medder being invited to coach at the school. He’s now in his second year.
“It was a big change going from pros to seventh and eighth graders,” said Medder, “but the experience and appreciation is a lot more evident. I enjoy being at Saint Theresa and I love how the kids want to be coached.”
Medder also coaches a club basketball team called the Arizona Breakdown (AB), which is comprised of boys from Saint Theresa, Saint Francis Xavier, Brophy and Arcadia High.
This past December, AB won first place at the Phoenix is Rising Holiday Tournament.
Medder credits the win to the players’ hard work and discipline. A few weeks later they placed second at the MLK Inspire Tournament. The AB Team plays year-round.
In addition to his enthusiastic players, Medder also attributes AB’s success to two Arcadia gentlemen: Guy Inzalaco and Mike Zacher. Inzalaco routinely lets the team use his gym for practices. Zacher not only coaches with Medder at Saint Theresa, but helps with the AB team as well.