Six years later, the athletics program has grown to nine teams, with the launch of men’s baseball and women’s tennis this year. Its volleyball team regularly is ranked near the top of the River States Conference, and is two-time defending conference champions. On the national level, athletes from cross country, women’s basketball, and volleyball teams, have earned bids to NAIA national championship tournaments.
The athletics program recently honored the City of Kokomo’s contribution to its success, with the Cougar Spirit Award. The award was given to Mayor Greg Goodnight, in recognition of the city allowing use of Kokomo Municipal Stadium for the baseball team’s home field, at no charge, its renovation of the Foster Park tennis courts, and its partnership with the campus and Kokomo Schools to provide the Cougar Gym.
“Without this partnership with the city, we would not have been able to grow our athletic programs as quickly as we have, and with the high quality we’ve had,” said Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke.
Greg Cooper, athletic director, noted that IU Kokomo’s new baseball team would be the only one in the River States Conference with artificial turf on its home field.
“Hands down, it’s one of the nicest facilities in the country,” he said. “We’re more than thrilled.”
He’s working with NAIA officials to potentially bring its national championship to Kokomo Municipal Stadium, and noted it is also being considered for the River States Conference tournament.
“The stadium is a huge advantage to us,” he said. “It was designed for this purpose, to be a community stadium, and to bring events and people to the city, and increase our profile.”
Coach Matt Howard said the stadium gives his team a competitive advantage, and offers players the chance to develop and play in a state-of-the-art facility.
“I truly believe that between our stadium, our campus, the IU degrees, and this community, there is no better place to be,” he said. “We have a lot of talented student athletes who have bought into this, and who are excited to call Kokomo Municipal Stadium their home.”
Coach Kristine Miller looks forward to the tennis team’s first fall season playing on the Foster Park courts.
“We’re really thankful the city of Kokomo is providing a home site for our team,” she said. “One of the things I love most about it is that it’s in the heart of the downtown area. It’s going to be wonderful not only for IU Kokomo, but for our community.”
Cooper said the city had planned renovations to the Foster Park courts, but upgraded its plans to make them collegiate quality, and also added new restroom buildings.
Cougar Gym opened for the 2013 volleyball season, and is part of of Kokomo's historic Memorial Gym, a legend among Indiana athletic facilities. The campus partnered with the city and the Kokomo Schools to convert the former swimming pool into a college regulation basketball court.
The Cougar Spirit Award is given annually to an unsung hero, or people behind the scenes who add to the intercollegiate experience of IU Kokomo’s student athletes. It recognizes those who do the extra work that allows them to compete, often without any recognition of the impact of their service.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.