KOKOMO, Ind. —The tension is palpable in Cougar Gym, with the home team hanging in close behind conference rival Midway University.
In their usual seats, dead center and three rows from the floor, Dick and Becky Foust watch the action intently. Becky leans forward, her body turning first to one end of the court and then the other, following the play, and covering her face with her hands when a player throws the ball up and misses. She half-rises out of her seat when a Cougar hits a bucket, clapping furiously to show her approval.
Next to her, Dick’s gaze is just as intense, but he’s slightly more relaxed, with his back against the seat behind him. He nods his head in approval as the Cougars score again.
“It’s fun to see these kids come out of high school, and they grow up on the court in front of you,” Dick said. “We just want to adopt every one of them as grandchildren.”
Win or lose, you’ll find the Kokomo couple at just about every home game, as they’ve been fans since intercollegiate sports began back in 2011, when the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams played in borrowed high school gyms. Their granddaughter, Payton Landseadel, played on the first volleyball team, which made those games extra special.
“We started coming to the games because we love sports, and then we met people, the coaches, the players, the people who go to the game,” said Becky.
“We’ve met a lot of nice friends, and we’ve gotten to know the parents of the players sitting in the stands,” added Dick, noting that they save seats for senior Trent Elliott’s parents during men’s basketball games, and sit by Whitney Williamson’s mother during women’s games. They also know many of the athletes, and many will come to shake their hands or give them hugs after games, recognizing them as loyal fans.
They were among the first Cougar athletics fans, and Becky Foust even wrote a letter to Hoosier rocker John Mellencamp, who lives near Bloomington, and has been a supporter of IU athletics, to ask him to donate to the fledgling program during its first year.
They’ve been known to travel to away games as well, in particular for the volleyball team, and have a remarkable collection of memorabilia. Dick Foust especially prizes a photo of the first men’s basketball team, autographed by each of the players. His collection includes tickets — often numbered one and two, because they arrive early to get their preferred seats — and programs from games all the way back to the first season.
However, Becky said they don’t have any one favorite team or sports — they have enjoyed each of them.
“We like all of them, whether they win or lose,” she said.
Married 57 years, the Fousts say sports brought them together. Dick was visiting a cousin who lived across the street from Becky’s family, and “I walked out of the house, and there she was, sitting there all cute and everything,” he recalled. “I had a striped shirt on, and she thought I was a referee.
Becky, a self-described tomboy, grew up playing basketball with the boys, and also enjoyed softball.
“She’s the athlete, I’m the athlete’s foot,” Dick joked, and added proudly that he has a softball at home from a game in which his wife hit three over-the-fence home runs for her team to win a city championship.
They plan to support the new IU Kokomo men’s baseball team later in the season.
“We’re looking forward to baseball starting, if they don’t freeze us out,” Becky Foust said.
They’ve encouraged all of their friends to attend games and support IU Kokomo’s teams.
“We wish more Kokomo people would come to the games,” Dick Foust said. “It’s great to see these young people working so hard, win or lose. It really adds something to Kokomo to have college sports here at home.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.