Let’s Go ... IU!
RedHawks! Red Wolves! Cougars! Titans! Grenadiers! Mastodons!
The game is tied, seconds to go, when a basketball sails through the air. There’s a sweet swish of the net, and IU adds another win to its record. Just one thing: This isn’t Assembly Hall.
This scene takes place at one of IU’s regional campuses, where, more and more, students are getting their shot to play for their school. Relatively young programs, regional campus athletics are growing each year, adding new sports when they can.
Unlike Bloomington, IU’s regional athletics fund their programs from student fees. If enrollment diminishes, these programs take a hit. Still, the spirit, the drive, and the effort are there.
“There’s nothing part time about being a college coach,” says Ryan Shelton, the part-time head coach of the IU Northwest RedHawks Women’s Basketball team. “It is a full-time job, which can be a touchy subject with my wife.”
Ryan is also a full-time marketing and communications specialist for IUN. But what may bother his wife are the unofficial duties, like the times he brought home the entire team’s dirty uniforms for washing. He’s also driven the team bus for long hours to and from games. “I haven’t gotten lost yet,” quips Ryan. “All of it’s worth it, though. It’s been very exciting to watch this program grow.”
That’s an understatement. When Ryan became head coach five years ago, the team hadn’t won a game in nearly three years. In his first year, they went 0 and 24. But today, the RedHawks have had four consecutive winning seasons, averaging 21 wins per season.
Moreover, the RedHawks’ Sharon Houston was not only an All-American, but her jersey is hanging in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame until spring 2013. It’s the second time she’s earned this honor.
Shelton’s RedHawks did something truly remarkable in 2012. The team, part of the National Association
of Intercollegiate Athletics, beat an NCAA Division I team, the Chicago State University Cougars, 78-77. “The great thing is that we’ve done all of this with mostly local talent,” notes Ryan.
Such triumphs have helped the team earn local support. The bus Shelton drives, for instance, was a gift from Milford Christenson, the owner of Christenson Chevrolet. In turn, the RedHawks give back to their community. For example, Ryan leads a low-cost basketball camp for area youth, where local kids get basketball fundamentals with a glimpse of higher education.
For Ryan, the value of the RedHawks lies in his players’ growth: “Watching how hard these young women work, it really makes me proud.”
You might not expect Brent Burris, BS’11, to have led IU East’s Red Wolves in rebounds. He’s 5’ 10”. But Brent’s a guy that tends to defy expectations.
Brent wasn’t involved in high school sports. He was home schooled. And while he treasures that education, it wasn’t the easiest avenue to college basketball.
“Ever since I was a little kid with my Fisher-Price hoop and ball, I’ve wanted to play,” notes Brent, who is now an assistant coach for Eastern Nazarene College. “The basketball court is where I’ve always felt the most comfortable.”
So Brent found courts where he could, working hard to get noticed. He played for the East Side Golden Eagles, part of the Indiana Christian Basketball Alliance. “There aren’t a lot of coaches who recruit from home school leagues,” says Brent.
But one day, during a summer league game, he happened to play against a team coached by IUE’s Coach Mark Hester. And he happened to win. The rest is Red Wolves history.
For Brent, it was a dream come true, but one with some challenges. There was no permanent practice facility, no team bus, and he had to take a part-time job to support his education. But in his last year, he received a scholarship. It was integral to my continued playing and education,” says Brent. “And it made me feel more motivated, like I had to work harder now that someone gave me that help.”
Today, Brent still calls on his IU East experiences on and off the court. He teaches his student athletes the lessons he learned. “I’ve got kids who lead by example,” he says. “But the team needs them to speak up and be vocal leaders.” Such players tend to be the quiet, hardworking guys. But Brent knows something about stepping up and doing the unexpected.
On January 21, 1992, when Dr. Ryan Trauring was a kid, he was at Assembly Hall surrounded by a roaring sea of cream and crimson. Cheering along with his dad, Trauring, BGS’98, witnessed as the Hoosiers beat Michigan’s “Fab Five,” 89-74.
“That game was thrilling,” recalls Trauring. “It was loud, and it was electric.”
Today, Trauring takes his 5-year-old son, Evan, to see IU games. They dress in cream and crimson, but they are cheering on the IU Kokomo Cougars. Whether it’s volleyball or basketball, “Evan loves it,” says Trauring.
But more than just for fun, Trauring hopes the same thing will happen to his son that happened to him. “That’s exactly how I started to become interested in going to IU,” notes Trauring. “By going to games with my dad.”
Eventually, his interest transformed him from fan to student, one impressed by IU’s science programs. But the inspiration started in Assembly Hall.
His love for IU Athletics is part of the reason Dr. Trauring donated his professional time and skill to give all the Cougar athletes free physicals in 2012. “I think it was in the neighborhood of 40 examinations,” recalls the generous doctor.
He also volunteered because he appreciates the impact of the IU Kokomo campus on the community he grew up in. “The campus brings jobs and it brings people to Kokomo,” notes Trauring. “It educates young people and makes our local economy stronger.”
The growing athletics program is also a boon to Kokomo. “It helps create a sense of community,” he says. “People just get excited and like to talk about the Cougars.”
But more than anything, Trauring says, he got involved because he is impressed by the athletes he’s met. “They are intelligent young men and women,” he says. “They are thoughtful, and they are motivated to succeed in sports and in life.”
They are IU student athletes.
The Wide World of Regional Sports
Of course, there’s basketball. But IU regional campuses have grown to include more and more sports. And they touch the lives of more and more students. Below is a list of sports that involve both men and women (unless otherwise noted).
IU East Red Wolves
Track and Field
Total number of student athletes: 115
IU Northwest RedHawks
Total number of student athletes: 67
IU South Bend Titans
Total number of student athletes: 38
IU Kokomo Cougars
Total number of student athletes: 44
IU Southeast Grenadiers
Total number of student athletes: 149
Women’s Track and Field
Total number of student athletes: 245
And then, there are the Jaguars of IUPUI, Indiana University’s other core campus. Along with the IPFW Mastodons, the Jaguars compete in the NCAA Division I Summit League. Jag fans are legion; many of them are Indianapolis residents who have never attended IUPUI. Go Jaguars!
Track and Field
Total number of student athletes: 215