Mark Anfinson looking to provide hoops, life mentoring through new venture with Wolves and Lynx
By PATRICK SLACK
Mark Anfinson shouldn’t have had to look for silver linings.
After finally being cleared of a heart condition that had prevented him from playing basketball in school because of liability issues, the 1988 Little Falls graduate suffered a torn ACL only months later.
“I think I was about ready to jump over the exam table (at the doctor),” Anfinson said.
He had been embedded with the game since playing as a youngster on a nerf hoop in the hallway with his older brother — “Who didn’t do that?” Anfinson said — and used it to help cope with the loss of his father as a sophomore in high school.
However, Anfinson is glad that the challenges he’s faced helped lead him down the path he’s traveled, with him now able to work in basketball full-time, teaming up with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx Basketball Academy while starting his own personal basketball instruction company, “Anfo’s.”
“At that time, it was extremely hard … but that was probably a blessing, because I could broaden my entire game,” Anfinson said, as he gained experience playing various positions and styles as he traveled to tournaments across the country, winning the Hoop It up National Championship 3 on 3 tournament in 2003 at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Now, Anfinson is looking to help others have positive experiences playing basketball, specifically through the simple love of the game.
“Basketball has been such a good release point for me for some of the stuff I had to go through,” Anfinson said. “It’s helped me through a lot, so I just want to pass that on to whoever I can.
“Love of the game is what we want to preach to everybody,” he said. “We kind of feel it is flip-flopped right now, not doing it enough for the right reasons, for the love of the game. I feel if you love the game and are passionate about the game, you’re going to want to learn more about the game.”
With the Timberwolves and Lynx looking to expand their academy to Central and Northern Minnesota and sharing similar values, it only made sense for them to reach out to Anfinson to form a partnership.
“What we’re doing with the Timberwolves and Lynx is just awesome,” Anfinson said. “They want to expand what they do, and it’s basically the same philosophies that I have — let’s do love of the game, let kids have fun and get them out playing, having opportunities to learn the fundamentals.”
Being able to coordinate the time between working with the Timberwolves and Lynx as well as his own company Anfo’s, now half a year old, has Anfinson able to turn his passion of basketball into a full-time occupation.
“Between the two it should sustain itself,” Anfinson said. “What we’re both hoping is that it just explodes. It’s starting to a little bit. You can see the signs this will be a full-time thing.”
Anfo’s is based out of Anfinson’s home in Albany, but he also travels throughout the area giving one-on-one or group instruction to players from elementary up through high school.
After receiving feedback from those he’s shared his personal experience with, Anfinson also is passionate about providing life mentoring to those he instructs while shooting some hoops along the way.
“Basketball is just the hook,” he said.