Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — IU Kokomo men’s basketball Coach Jace Thompson stresses doing things the right way in order to be successful. That philosophy extends far beyond the hardwood floor, weight room or practice facility. Thompson wants his players to be successful on the floor, in the classroom and in life.

Men's basketball game 11-4-14Coach Jace Thompson leads his team.

 “We try to teach them how to do it the right way, not just to get through the class, but to really learn,” Thompson said. “All of our guys sit in the front row of every class, we want them to introduce themselves to the professor, we really try to treat it like a business environment.”

Looking at the classroom like a business environment breeds success, Thompson believes, and he wants his players to attack everything from homework to practice to game day like it was a real job.

“You don’t want to sit in the back of the room, you want to sit in front of the room, you want to be engaged.”

Being engaged is a common theme for the Cougars. Thompson has seen improvement in each of his four seasons, and concludes this year’s training camp and preseason workouts have far surpassed those in the past.

“We’ve gotten through a lot more in this preseason than we’ve gotten through before,” added Thompson. “Part of that is just having guys that know drills, know what we’re looking for, and we’ve moved along the pace a lot quicker this year.”

Even though they advanced rather quickly, Thompson says there is still much room for improvement.

“We’ve got to find the other team’s weak point and keep hitting away, and we’ve also got to become a team that gets what we want every time down the floor.”

He added that early on in the season this year, the team has a tendency to run the floor with an open gym mentality, which doesn’t always result in the best shot. Thompson would like to see the team adopt a more selective style of play that will ultimately get them the best shot possible every time they have the ball.

“Our shot selection has got to get better as the year goes along, and we also have to take care of the ball better.”

The way they can keep moving their progression forward is simple:  stay committed.

Thompson mentioned that the team talks a lot about commitment goals throughout the season, and added he has one of his own.

“I’ve got to stay committed to the process, because that’s what I ask the players to do. We’re going to stay true to working on us and true to ourselves because I think that at the end of the year, those are the hardest teams to beat.”

Thompson adds that there will be some tough times, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The schedule is made up in such a way that the team will be challenged early and will be ready for the conference season. With the tougher competition on the schedule early, it could provide the Cougars with the discipline and the learning opportunities to improve areas of weakness before facing conference foes.

As far as the team aspect is concerned, Thompson offers a simple anecdote of what they need to do.

“They need to learn to play together, they need to learn to compete, and they need to learn to communicate,” Thompson explained. “We don’t concentrate on wins and losses, we figure if we do those other things, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

If the Cougars do just that, they may find the results they’ve been looking for all along and that would solidify coach Thompson’s philosophy. Ultimately, he uses statistics and analytics to show players exactly why they do what they do.

If “doing what they do” yields positive results, then there’s no reason to change it.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Story written by Korsen Stiner. Korsen is an intern in the Office of Media and Marketing.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Arielle Castanon plans to get a little wild in her classroom as a student teacher.

Education activitiesEducation class poses with their project.She was among a dozen Indiana University Kokomo education students participating in a recent “Project Wild” workshop, learning ways she can incorporate wildlife, conservation, and environmentalism into her classroom.

“I learned a lot about Indiana’s wildlife, and learned ways to teach that allows kids to interact with the lesson, not just read or hear about it,” said Castanon, from Marion. “It was a great opportunity to learns hands-on ways of teaching children about the environment, and being responsible with our resources.”

Julie Saam, associate professor of education, leads the workshops each year, giving future teachers tools to incorporate wildlife topics not only into science classes, but math, language arts, reading, and others.

Each student who completes the six-hour training receives a curriculum guide with hundreds of experiments and activities, linked to state standards.

“This is a great tool for teachers, especially those just starting out in their careers,” said Saam. “It helps them understand the importance of learning about and protecting our environment, and how to share that with students. These are resources we all share and interact with on a daily basis.”

The workshop was all hands-on, with activities including building birds, planning a short lesson, and playing a game of Muskox Maneuvers, a game that allows students to simulate being predator and prey.

Callie Reecer, Frankfort, appreciated learning about resources available to her as a teacher from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and also liked that the materials are linked to state standards.

“I like that this is interdisciplinary, so it includes language arts, and physical activity,” she said. “I think students would enjoy this and learn from it.”

Heidi Goff knows that funding for field trips is not always there, and appreciates knowing how to teach these lessons without having to leave the school.

“It’s giving me a lot of ideas to include animals and the environment in my classroom,” said Heidi Goff, Kokomo. “It shows us ways we can do that in our own classrooms, without having to take a field trip.”

Project Wild is administered by the Council for Environmental Education and co-sponsored by the Western Association of Fish/Wildlife Agencies.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Volleyball team had a very successful season setting a new school record, having players honored, and receiving two awards.

Volleyball game 9-30-14Cougar's in action at an autumn home game.

 The IU Kokomo Volleyball team finished the season 25-8. The team was also able to set a school record with an impressive 18-match win streak. They also were the champions of the Calumet College Invite.

“I am really proud of the team this season. After a rough start, they stayed the course and things started to fall into place,” said head coach Heather Hayes. “Our future looks bright.”

They had two players, Lael Larrick and Lindi Thomas, recognized as the Volleyball Player of the Week in the KIAC conference. For the second consecutive year they captured the conference’s Newcomer of the Year Award. They also were able to add the Coach of the Year award, won by Coach Hayes. At the end of the regular season they tied for second in the conference, which is an improvement from last year.

“We are setting our goals high next season and will work hard in the off-season to improve in the areas that we need it. We will have to be ready to play each and every day. It should be exciting,” said coach Hayes.  

The IU Kokomo volleyball team has only one senior graduating this year. Lael Larrick is the first player to play four years with IU Kokomo Volleyball.

“Thanks to all the fans for the great support all season. Special thanks and good luck to our lone senior Lael Larrick,” said Coach Hayes.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Story written by student writer Calani Hitchell. Calani is an intern in the Office of Media &


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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Cross Country Team had a successful third season, with the team setting new school records and a number of runners setting their personal bests.

Cross Country meet 10-4-14IU Kokomo's cross country team competes at Grace College.

 The men’s team finished in sixth place in the KIAC Conference, while the women’s team finished in seventh.

In addition, both teams had five runners set college personal best records. The women’s team also had three race times that are in their top 10 of all time; the men had four race times this season in the top 10 of all time.

I have no doubt that we are a program on the rise and that we will continue to see great things from these student athletes that I have the privilege to work with every day,” said Head Coach Jason VanAlstine.

The team had two runners recognized as the KIAC Runner of the Week: Javier Vasquez and Karly Sprouse. Also, Mitch Padfield was named Dakronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete.

From an individual perspective, each of the runners on the team went out every week, put forward great individual efforts, and represented our school well,” VanAlstine said. “I am so impressed with how hard the team fought each week. I saw glimpses of what this team is capable of doing.”

At the Grace Invitational, both teams had best team finishes, with the women clocking an average time of 23:25 and the men with an average time of 29:30.

They set a school record for most teams defeated in a race, at the #JennaStrong Fall Classic. The men defeated seven teams and the women defeated six.

Despite injuries that kept the women’s team to only 5 or 6 runners per race, the women were able to set a number of program bests. As a team, the best race was the Lancer Invitational where Karly Sprouse and Amy McCauley ran the 2nd and 4th fastest times in school history, at 21:29 and 21:47, respectively. 

As individuals, the KIAC meet was the best for the women. They had three runners, Brooke Runyon, Hannah High, and Lauren Lane, who were able to run their college personal best records. Breanne Robertson missed her personal best by one second.

The men’s team had a very strong start to the season. At the Crimson Wave Invitational, the team had two runners in the top 15: Javier Vasquez and Zach Duranto. This was the team’s best race of the year.

“Javier had another great season for us. He now has 8 of the top 10 times in school history and he just missed qualifying for Nationals by one spot,” said VanAlstine. “ I know that he is going to come back next year and give it everything he has to return to Nationals, and to lead our team into competition for what I hope will be our best season ever.”

At the Lancer Invitational, Duranto ran 28:41, which is the fastest time ever for a freshman. Shadrach Jakes became the fourth Cougar ever to drop under 30 minutes.

The IU Kokomo Cross Country team has two seniors who will be graduating in the spring, Mitch Padfield and Cody Phelps.

“They have been on the team since the program’s inception in 2012, and have made immeasurable contributions to building the team here,” said Coach VanAlstine.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Story written by student writer Calani Hitchell. Calani is an intern in the Office of Media & Marketing.