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.

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