During one of the recent basketball seasons Scott Perkins spent at Lake Superior State, it was 25 below zero for a full week. Biting wind, burn-your-face cold. Global warming had apparently not reached Sault Ste. Marie yet.
But when you are 300 miles dead north of Detroit, and just a full-court pass from Canada and the gateway to the Ontario wilderness, that kind of weather has to be part of the allure.
Perkins, a four-year starter who just completed his career at LSSU on Michigan's Upper Peninsula with 1,282 points, 313 assists, and 182 three-point field goals, said his journey north was one of enjoyable discovery, both on and off the court.
"The first time I visited there, I had never been to the UP, I knew nothing about the area, and I had never even heard of the Mackinac Bridge," Perkins said. "But I knew wherever I went to school, I would make friends and work as hard as I could to become a better basketball player."
Perkins, who finished his career at Perrysburg four years ago as the school's No. 10 all-time scorer with 781 points, was a two-time All-Northern Lakes League first team pick who helped the Yellow Jackets win a pair of NLL titles.
After he adjusted to life on the international border, Perkins found just what he expected on the basketball court.
"It was everything you had always been told the transition from high school to college would be - everyone was bigger and faster and stronger, and more athletic," Perkins said. "I found a new level of competition that was challenging, more so than any place I had been to."
Perkins, who was recently named to the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division first team after averaging 17.8 points per game this season - fourth-best in the league - said he considered going to a Division I program, but liked the opportunity to play right away at Lake Superior.
"I think if I had gone to a bigger school, and not played until my junior or senior year, I would have been miserable," Perkins said.
The Division II Lakers were a sub-.500 program when Perkins arrived and last season rose to win the GLIAC North Division crown, and advanced to the second round of the national tournament - a first for the school.
Perkins' role in that turnaround was significant, since he has played three different positions for the Lakers in his career, and made himself into the team's most versatile player. That evolution came as no surprise to Dave Boyce, Perkins' coach at Perrysburg.
"Scott is one of the most driven players we have coached," Boyce said. "He will continue to be successful at whatever he endeavors to do after college because of this single-mindedness."
Perkins, a psychology major, said he intends to go to graduate school and possibly study sports and exercise psychology. He looks back on his four years at Lake Superior as the right preparation for the rest of his life. "It was a different team each year, and I enjoyed all four years," he said. "It was a great education and a great basketball experience, and my parents got to most of my games despite the distance. I couldn't have chosen a better school."
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org