Where are they now? Former Braves basketball, track star

Name: Mark Strange 
Age: 36
Hometown: Brownstown
Current residence: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Occupation: Director of operations for Express Scripts Inc. based in St. Louis, Mo.
Family: Wife, Karen Zabel, who graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 1996; parents, Jed and Margie Strange, who still live in Brownstown; brother, Aaron Strange, who lives in Ocala, Fla.
High school: Brownstown Central, 1996
Sports: Basketball, four years; track and field, four years
Athletic honors: In basketball, No. 2 on career scoring list with 1,361 points, most valuable player award in 1995 and 1996, state 3-point competition champion in 1995, East-West All-Star team in 1996; in track and field, most valuable award in 1996
College: St. Joseph's College, 1996-97; Indiana University, 1997- 2001; University of Phoenix, Master of Business Administration, 2012-14
Major: Business-marketing

Sports: Played basketball for St. Joseph's College in 1996-97

What drew you to sports?

“First and foremost, just the competition. I remember going to basketball and baseball games as a kid and loving watching the intensity of the players and the reactions of the fans. Each experience made me want to be in the same position. Growing up, I enjoyed being around other athletes, like Dave Benter and Marc Hutcheson at Brownstown and Glen VonDielingen at Seymour. They were great mentors to me and showed not only how to compete but to be as prepared as possible for competition. In sports, there is so much camaraderie among your teammates. I still am connected to some of my teammates that I had in basketball from the third grade at Lutheran Central (Matt Rochner, Chad Sommers, Matt Johnson and others). That friendship and bonding is intensified by being on a team, working toward a goal and enjoying accomplishments together.”

What is your favorite memory of high school sports?

“Winning the sectional my sophomore year, before class basketball (1994). Winning the state 3-point competition in Indianapolis at the RCA Dome my junior year (1995).”

What was your biggest accomplishment?

“Lettering in basketball all four years was definitely a highlight, but also receiving the MVP award by the team and being the 3-point champ for the state were all great memories.”

Why did you choose to do a sport in college?

“I did play one year of basketball at St. Joseph’s College. After high school, I was given a scholarship to attend/play there, and it was a goal of mine to get to play college basketball. St. Joseph’s was in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and always had great competition coming from the teams they played.”

What did you get out of that experience?

“College basketball was great. I still remember before our conference schedule going up and playing Eastern Michigan, a Division I school who had Earl Boykins on their team. I remember after he got into the NBA telling my wife that I got to guard him in college. From life lessons, college basketball did teach me a very important lesson, and that is to ensure you create and live a very balanced life; don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Our life is so short that it is important to live each day to the fullest.”

Are you still involved in sports today?

“Yes, however, I have traded my basketball shoes in for running shoes. I have currently completed two half-marathons in the Phoenix area, as well as recently completed a Spartan race that combines running, strength obstacles and lots of mud and fun all together. I enjoy hiking with my wife, Karen, and my Labrador, Coconut. Karen and I are working toward hiking the 250 miles of the John Muir Trail down the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. We also have hiked rim to rim at the Grand Canyon and in August of 2010 climbed the highest point in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, at 19,330 feet.”

How did sports affect your life?

“I think sports shaped my life. In everything I do today, from strategy to leadership to determination, I learned from participating in sports. My current position at Express Scripts has me leading a team of nine very dynamic individuals and working in a very stressful, ever-changing environment. All of these elements reflect right back to playing on one of my previous sports teams.”

What would you say to encourage kids to get involved in sports?

“First, the obvious reasons for sports are to get out, be involved and stay healthy. However, there are so many other great things about sports, like making lasting friendships, working toward goals and enjoying successes but learning to deal with failures, too. I would encourage kids to be very involved in sports, to at least try their best, get involved with multiple sports and never give up. Last, to the kids, thank their parents every day for helping them out and being supportive of what they do. Sports takes a lot of time and dedication by everyone involved. I had the best parents that were always there for me and helping me out along the way. I am indebted to them always for what they did for me while I was growing up, as the way I was raised has shaped where I am today.”

Do you have any hobbies?

“Following my favorite professional baseball, basketball and football teams. I love hiking, running and just being outdoors whenever I can.”

What are your favorite sports teams?

“St. Louis Cardinals, MLB; Arizona Cardinals, NFL; Los Angeles Lakers, NBA.”

Who are your favorite athletes?

“Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals; Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals; Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals; Mike Matheny, former MLB player and current manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.”

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