There is a stereotype out there that says Jewish men are not good athletes. While stereotypes are hurtful, Yanni Hufnagel is not afraid to joke about his own inability to play the game he loves. The 33-year-old college basketball coach was cut from his own high school varsity team, but he loved the game so much that he stayed with the team as the TV announcer.
It is not to say that Yanni Hufnagel is not athletic. He was quite a lacrosse player growing up and even managed to play a season in college. But he quit lacrosse and transferred schools to Cornell where he got an internship with the New Jersey Nets washing laundry. Throughout his life, he has done everything he can to stay close to the game he loves.
That’s why he took such great advantage of the biggest break in his life. In 2009, he accepted an unpaid assistant coaching position at Harvard University. Assistant coaches in basketball are primarily responsible for recruiting. Completely undaunted, Yanni Hufnagel assembled one of the greatest basketball teams in Ivy league history. Harvard University won his first Ivy League championship in its long history.
Yanni Hufnagel is a ball of energy and his passion for the game has made fans out of NBA stars like Blake Griffin and Jeremy Lin. Yanni Hufnagel would work late into the night with Blake Griffin and opened the gym early for him when the two worked together. “Anything we needed, he was there to provide that,” said Griffin of their time together.
Jeremy Lin keeps Yanni Hufnagel on speed dial, offering him courtside seats were ever the NBA star is playing. At 33 years old, the current assistant coach of the University of Nevada at Reno is due for his time in the spotlight.