Jordan Hulls paused and considered the question from a parent in the fifth-grade class he was visiting about how he managed to build his athletic career amid the temptations of adolescence.
“What was it we always said, Jordan?” J.C. Hulls asked his son, offering an assist from the back of the room.
“I don’t know, Dad. There are so many things you always said,” Jordan said, breaking into a grin.
The fifth-graders laughed with the son, identifying with being on the receiving end of parental advice.
Parents and teachers shot a knowing glance at the father, familiar with the challenges of raising children who sometimes seem to be tone-deaf when it comes to limits. More important, though, and joking aside, Jordan remembered.
“It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s going to worth it,” he recited, doubtless based on years of parental guidance.
It’s a mantra that has served the Hulls family well, with J.C. and Joni raising four successful children.
Jordan, their youngest son, was named recipient of the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, given to the most outstanding student-athlete in Division I college basketball. It is based on 4 Cs — classroom, community, character and competition.
While the award is Jordan’s, it certainly is a reflection on his family, as well.
J.C. said those family values are based on giving back to those around you.
“Because you bounce a crazy little basketball around, you get an opportunity in this state to go out and represent the university in a way that stands for character and integrity,” he said. “Jordan has always been rooted in those values. When he was growing up, that’s what we talked about.
“You’re a fortunate kid. Don’t ever take that for granted.”
Jordan is not the only successful Hulls offspring. Younger sister, Kaila, followed Jordan as an Indiana All-Star and now plays at Indiana University. Older brother J.C. Hulls III and older sister Kati are in the work world nearby.
For each child, the Hullses focused on helping them make the right choices.
“In the world today, everyone wants to make things gray,” J.C. said. “We grew up teaching our kids black and white. There is a right and a wrong. That’s what Jordan was trying to share. If you’re wondering should I or shouldn’t I, then the answer is no.”
In talking with students, Jordan warned of the temptations that start to emerge in middle school and urged them to stick to their principles rather than be swayed by wrong choices.
“I had to lose quite a few friends along the way,” he told them.
His father said it is a lesson learned well.
“It’s so easy to get confused by the gray areas,” J.C. said. “That doesn’t mean that Jordan hasn’t made mistakes. But it is so important to make the right decisions from a character standpoint, because that is what you can stand on.”
Making good choices is just part of it, though. It is taking what you’ve got and making the most of it that further defines success.
“It’s a really big thing for him to be able to show kids that if you put your mind to it and do the work, you can accomplish some great things,” J.C. said.