Friday, February 6, 2015

The Indy Eleven and DePauw connection

I took a long way around to get my college education.  I finished at Purdue University where I obtained a degree in civil engineering after taking a ton of courses over a two year period, including a class and its prerequisite at the same time.  The three years before that I started out at a small liberal arts university in Greencastle, Indiana called DePauw University.  I took a ton of classes there too because I was part of the school's 3-2 program.  In essence, 3 years of classes at DePauw where you get to take all of the classes that students who go straight to Purdue would never even think of taking and then 2 years at an engineering school (Purdue in my case even though they weren't officially part of the program then but agreed to the transfer) where you shove as many engineering courses into your schedule as you can humanly stand.  At the end of this 5 year trek, you receive a Bachelor of Arts from DePauw and a Bachelor of Science from Purdue.

I give you that background, because DePauw is also where my soccer playing days officially ended.  I had some intramural games at Purdue, but for all purposes, I was no longer a "player" after the first day of tryouts my freshman year.  That first day I had the worst time playing soccer I had ever remembered and I quit the tryout the next day.  It's not something I remember fondly, because I wish I had at least stuck it out to see what would happen.  I don't know if I would have made the team, but the one time that I can remember really quitting on something has kind of haunted me in the following two decades.  I missed it so much that I would take my ball out into the courtyard at 9:00 at night and juggle by myself or kick it off the buildings to myself.  I also took a soccer class that year taught by Coach Cotton, who was the coach of the team at the time, and so members of the soccer team routinely joined the "classes."  What I realized during those classes was that I was not getting destroyed by those guys and held my own most of the time.  So I'll never know.

But I digress...

When you go to Purdue and graduate with an engineering degree, you expect that you will frequently encounter other Purdue grads in your day-to-day job, especially if you remain in the Midwest.  When you go to DePauw and work using an engineering degree from another school, you expect that you will periodically see a DePauw grad, but likely only through license plates during your daily commute.  As the Indy Eleven started taking shape in its inaugural season, I became more and more surprised at how often my alma mater was represented.  As the second player signed (or third depending on whose family you ask), the Indy Eleven had selected Nathan Sprenkel to be a backup goalkeeper.  Sprenkel was a 2012 graduate of DePauw and:
A psychology major at DePauw, during his senior season Sprenkel earned second team all-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in addition to being named the North Coast Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and garnering all-NCAC first team honors. He also was the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 in addition to earning all-SCAC and all-Great Lakes Region first team honors.
Sprenkel is now an assistant coach for the men's soccer team at DePauw.

Then I saw that the team's front office had not one, but two people with DePauw connections. Director of Community Relations, Guy-Jo Gordon's "recent experience also includes time as both the Annual Fund Assistant Director and Coordinator of Alumni of Color Programs at DePauw University..."

Joining him was Director of Ticket Sales, Mike Henn.  "After graduating from DePauw University in Greencastle with a Communications degree, Henn spent a year in local radio before joining the Indiana Pacers as an Account Executive in 1981."

The season started and I noticed that the color commentator on television for the Indy Eleven games was Brad Hauter.  Brad was "a 1987 DePauw University graduate" who "returned to his alma mater in 2008 to take over for veteran coach, Page Cotton, who resigned after 39 seasons. just the third men's soccer coach in the program's history."

Even before I started writing this blog, I was aware that there was another, far better, soccer writer who was discussing the Indy Eleven with the Eleventh Heaven blog.  Turns out that the Eleventh Heaven site was started by Doug Starnes, who just happens to be the assistant women's soccer coach at DePauw.

I fully expected to see Indiana University grads and players within the Indy Eleven team and fan base given its proximity and historical success and that has happened.  While DePauw is a great school and has always had a good soccer program, it still amazes me to see so many connections to the university throughout the Indy Eleven world.  Over the course of this past week, I have become aware that my DePauw brethren are a big part of the Indy Eleven team and fan base.  In what has been the best rebuttal to date of the Indy Star's Erica Smith's opinion piece (I link it for completeness, don't go read me) about the proposed Indy Eleven stadium, I became aware of Nipun Chopra.  Nipun followed up his written words with a podcast interview of Peter Wilt and it turns out that Nipun is a 2006 graduate of DePauw University and is now working on his PhD in neuroscience.

I don't know how many more DePauw connections I'm going to find in the Indy Eleven universe, but I'm going to keep looking.  From civil engineers, research into Alzheimer's Disease, or just the nuts and bolts of your favorite soccer team, my experiences so far have reminded me that even small universities can have a big impact on your world.

Come On You Boys In Blue!

A Toast To DePauw
Written by Vivien N. Bard '17

To Old DePauw we toast today,
And raise our voices high
We'll honor thee and loyal be
And praise thee to the sky.

Let ev'ry son and daughter stand
United e'er for thee,
And hail Old Gold throughout the land,
Here's to you, Old DePauw.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Soccer Life - Rickelman

I was fortunate that in the entirety of my soccer playing career, there were less than a handful of players that I didn't like having on my team.  This guy was definitely not one of those handful.  I'm happy to say that this edition was done by one of my friends who was a better person than he was a soccer play and he was a really good soccer player.  His family treated me like I was part of their family and my family treated him like he was part of our family.  He was my teammate, but he was my friend first and I'm glad that we've managed to stay in contact through the years, even if it isn't to the same level as when we were kids.  So with that sappiness, I'll let him tell you about his Soccer Life.

1. Name:
Chris Rickelman

2. Role (Player, Parent, Coach, Referee, General Spectator, All of the Above, None of the Above, Other):
- All but Referee

(Editor's note: Chris indicates he refereed a little in HS later...Chris Estridge did the same thing of not including referee here, but said they did it later.  I wonder if it's a Chris thing or a defender thing.)

3. Soccer-specific Nickname (and any story behind it):
- In High School the nickname was "Rickelchicken."  Yes, I know, not exactly one that strikes fear in opponents; however, it was one that my teammates as well as myself embraced.  So much so that it was actually embroidered on the front of my Ben Davis letter jacket, and engraved inside my class ring.  As for where the nickname originated, that is still up for debate.  There are a couple of stories/tales about where the name originated, but I imagine it is a combination of both.  One of the stories was that I actually received the nickname while playing a pickup basketball game with some friends and their dads.  I happened to be making several of my shots (not normal) when one of the Dad's yelled out, "Man, Rickelchicken is on fire!"  It was heard by several of my friends, and then just seemed to stick and be carried along onto the soccer field as well. The other story is that while participating in one of coach Kevin Scanlon's two-a-day drills (probably the dreaded death drill...anyone remember that one?), I lost my dinner about half way through.  I believe coach Scanlon or coach Tubbs asked me what I had eaten and I replied, “chicken.”  I believe it was then and there that I was declared “Rickelchicken”.

(Editor's notes: I definitely remember the "death drill."  Bad memories...  Coach Scanlon was a fairly recent IUPUI grad when he coached us and now coaches for the Westfield Youth Soccer Association, as does Coach Tubbs, who was also an IUPUI grad and is in the top 5 in single-season assists for IUPUI.)

4. Age started playing:
- Exact age I am unsure of, but my guess would be around 6 or 7 is when I started.

5. First recollection of the game:
- One of my first recollections of the game was that I remember playing and loving defense.  My signature defensive move was to simply kick the ball out of bounds.  Ball would be coming down the sideline with no opponent even close, and I would kick it out of bounds...take that other team!

6. Highest level of play achieved:
- Played 4 years of college soccer at Olivet Nazarene University.

7. Last competitive match – Date (if known) & Level of Play:
- Last competitive match would have been October of 1997 against Greenville College in Illinois.  I have played in a men’s over 30 league, but that was much more recreational than competitive.

8. Position:
- Sweeper

9. Jersey number:
- 10

10. Most memorable moment(s):
- Scored on a bicycle kick in an indoor game during high school.  One of those moments where you weren’t thinking about just happened.

- My first 2 games of my college career were played at the Cornerstone College Kickoff classic in Grand Rapids, MI.  I had earned the spot of starting sweeper as a freshman, and was incredibly nervous.  At the end of the tournament, there were awards given out for offensive player of the tournament as well as defensive player of the tournament.  The offensive player of the tournament was  awarded to Jeff Dresser from Cornerstone college who would go on to play soccer professionally (look him up :)), and I (who did not go on to play professionally) was awarded the top defensive player of the tournament.  It was a pretty cool way to start my college career!

(Editor’s note: Jeff Dresser (played with the Indiana Blast through the 2003 season)

11. Least memorable moment(s):
- Getting a red card in my final high school game which was played under the lights at Heritage Christian.  Tearing off my shirt as I left the field in tears knowing that my high school career was over and at the time was not sure I would be going on to play college soccer.  It was not a great display of sportsmanship.

- Breaking and dislocating my ankle just before halftime in a match against Greenville College of Illinois. It was my sophomore year, we were 6 games into the season, we had started off the season great with shutouts against 4 of our first 5 opponents.  I would require surgery and miss the rest of my sophomore season.  (see articles for details).

12. Favorite team:
- Would simply have to say team USA

13. Favorite player:
- Historical:  Marcelo Balboa of the USA.  Defensive stud, had one of the greatest almost goals in World Cup History (youtube Marcelo Balboa bicycle kick against Columbia in ‘94 world cup), and who didn’t love that mullett?
Editor's note: around the 50 second mark is the bicycle.  I love Meola's reaction after it):

- Current: Cory Miller of the Indy Eleven, and fellow Olivet Nazarene University Alumni!

14. Indoor vs Outdoor:
- Outdoor because of the different weather elements that could transform any game.

15. Grass vs Turf:
- Grass

16. Coaching experience:
- Assistant/head coach of North Manchester soccer club;

- Assistant coach at Manchester High School for a few years;

- Head coach for both my kids the last couple of years (ages 6 and 9).

17. Refereeing experience:
- Little bit in HS

18. Favorite World Cup moment(s):
- Cameroon stuns Argentina in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup.

- The aforementioned almost bicycle kick goal into the upper 90 by Marcelo Balboa in the ‘94 WC.

- Clint Dempsey scores in the opening 30 seconds of their first match against Ghana in this years 2014 WC.

19. Honors/Awards:
- Named to the 1992 IHSSSL All-League West All Star Team.

- Named to the 1993 ISCA (Indiana Soccer Coaches Association) Top Team

- Cornerstone College Kickoff Classic’s Top Defensive Player award

20. Other sports played (and to what level):

21. Other Comments:
- Thanks Drew for giving us the opportunity to reminisce a little about the “glory days”.  I loved having you as a teammate and more importantly a friend!