Originally published Oct. 31, 2013.
Basketball took Marcus Moore from Indiana to the Indian Ocean.
A teacher at Huntington North High School and business owner in his native Columbia City, Moore played basketball professionally in Beijing, China, and Perth, Australia.
Basketball was a part of his life from an early age. Having two brothers who were in love with the sport as much as he was helped grow his love for it even further.
"I have an older brother who is the head coach of Mt. Vernon Nazarene, which is in Grace and Huntington's conference," notes Moore. "I have a twin brother who is the assistant coach at Grace for basketball.
"So, basketball is definitely in our family."
Even in high school, basketball was taking Moore places.
"I was, thankfully, fortunate enough to play on a team that played in the 4A state finals against Lawrence North," says Moore, a 2004 graduate of Columbia City High School. "Had some really good teammates. It was really a neat experience for my teammates and I to kind of go through that process and that experience."
Moore continued his playing career at Grace College, in Winona Lake. An All-American during his time there, Moore got his first taste of what playing overseas was like when he traveled to Beijing in the summer of 2007, following his junior year at Grace. After playing on a team there for three months, Moore returned home.
The experience stirred his interest in playing overseas after college.
"I was going to leave Indiana in May, shortly after graduating college, to play in Germany for a little bit," Moore says.
Though he accepted an offer to play there in January, something happened later that month to derail those plans.
"I actually broke my foot in January and my senior year changed a little bit," Moore says. "I didn't practice the rest of the year. Continued to play games because the doctor said I couldn't damage it any further."
When the season ended, the key to Moore's recovery was time, rather the surgery. So, for the next five months, he took it easy, allowing the bone in his foot to heal.
Then, around Thanksgiving, his phone rang. The voice on the other end asked him if he'd be interested in playing Perth, Australia.
"I said I'd absolutely be interested," Moore recalls. "Two months later I was on a flight to Sydney and I flew across the country to Perth.
"I had about a month or so to get back into shape and the season started in March. It was a great opportunity, but I was kind of looking forward to going to Germany. It was unfortunate the way it happened, but obviously it happened for a reason.
"Thankfully another opportunity opened up."
From January to August of 2009, Moore played in Perth.
"Perth is where, like, L.A. would be here and the rest of Australia is on the east coast, like New York," he explains. "That's how I kind of explain it to my students. It's completely isolated. A million and a half people there, but it's closer to Thailand's capital than it is its own capital. Once you get outside of Perth, it's nothing but red clay for thousands of miles.
"It's a very interesting city. I mean, they love basketball, they love sport, and it was a really neat opportunity. I lived on the Indian Ocean, which was incredible. I got to play with my twin brother, which was also really exciting for me and my family."
Moore says the experience of playing in Perth was vastly different than the experience of playing in Beijing.
"It was a lot more comfortable to live and play in Perth," he admits. "Obviously, in Australia, they speak English."
Moore says the biggest struggle in China was the communication factor.
"Very quickly you learn to point and nod your head," he says. "The language is difficult to pick up. There are fewer people than you would imagine that speak English, especially over the age of 21 in China. In Beijing, it's almost unrealistic that they even consider speaking English. The best English-speaking people in China that I came about were those that were, like, grade school, middle school age."
Communication was far from impossible, though.
"Sport was our commonality in China," observes Moore. "So, that was a language in itself. Basketball was the language."
And everyone, fans and players alike, conversed with ease on game days.
"There's 8,000 people in a gym, almost where the fans were pretty much on top of you," he describes. "The gyms were small, but they filled them. And they were so loud. It's neat to see that even though there's a language barrier, there's commonalities through sport.
"It was a really neat experience."
Despite their differences, Moore acknowledges that both places revealed him to be an American who didn't have things totally figured out.
This was never more evident in Beijing than when he and fellow American basketball players had to travel through the city.
"In Beijing, we always took public transportation, which was a nightmare," he begins. "It's hot, it's sweaty, they drive crazy ... it's 95 degrees, it's uncomfortable.
"Well, one night, because we always went and used computer labs down in Beijing ... we could use this to email our friends and family, stay updated with them and see what's going on back home. It was late one night and the transit system had closed at about 1 o'clock and me and like three other Americans that were there, like for different teams, we knew we had to take a taxi. So, obviously, being American, we were about 15 miles from home, we were just out of college, we knew what they cost in like L.A. and Chicago to take a taxi 15 miles. So, we're just like, ‘This is going to be 100 bucks!' You can imagine us complaining.
"Well, ended up getting a taxi. It was air-conditioned. There was four of us in there. We drove about 15 miles back to our hotel where we were staying at and our total - I'll never forget this because I remember taking a picture of it, I still have it - our total fee was $3.90! That's how inexpensive stuff is over there. And we just laughed and laughed and laughed and we literally paid about 90 cents apiece."
In Perth, Moore had difficulty traveling as well - only this time, it was on the court.
"I had to learn how to travel," he confesses. "The very first time I saw someone travel, I remember complaining to the referee for about five minutes and saying, ‘Are you kidding me?' And then one of my teammates finally said, ‘Dude, you're not in college anymore. You're playing professional basketball. You're allowed to take three steps.' And I was like, ‘Aw, I didn't even think about that." I couldn't even believe it. So, I really had to teach myself how to travel.
"I don't think that I used my maximum amount of steps probably more than about once or twice the entire season."
In August, at the end of that season, Moore was at a fork in the road.
"I got offered a higher-paying (contract) for another level, actually the level up," he says. "But they said I would have to be back in, like, three weeks, because their season actually started when the one that I played in finished. So, I'd have three weeks to go home and then I'd have to come back."
It was an unappealing prospect to Moore, and when he came home, he did so for good, calling it a career.
Moore has a degree in business and a business teaching degree. He taught business for three years before coming to Huntington North, where he works in special services.
Though his playing days may be over, Moore is still very much involved in sports. In addition to being an assistant on Huntington North's boys' varsity basketball team and an assistant tennis coach at Grace, the business he runs in Columbia City is all about athletic training.
"Right now, two of my kids that I work with are playing professionally, one is in Luxembourg, and the other one is in Israel," he says proudly.
His happiness over being home supercedes any desire he may have to still be playing.
"I got what I wanted to out of playing professionally. It was a great experience. Skype was a godsend, but - oh, my gosh - I'm sick and tired of Skype and I never want to have to use it again," he jokes.
"I'm glad I get to see my friends and my family in person instead of on a computer screen."
Complete caption: Marcus Moore (center), an assistant coach for the Huntington North boys’ varsity basketball team, talks to players Matt Hogan (left) and Keaton Irwin during practice. Moore, also a teacher at the school, played basketball professionally in Beijing, China, and Perth, Australia.