KOKOMO, Ind. — When the first Indiana University Kokomo women’s basketball team arrived on campus, the nearly all-freshman team never would have imagined the legacy they would build.
Four years later, the Cougars have played for a River States Conference championship, earned a spot in the NAIA national tournament, have three members in the 1,000-point club, one in the 1,000 rebounds club — and four graduating on time, preparing for success beyond sports.
Dejianna Butler (Evansville/Bosse HS), Tabby DeWitt (Laketon/Manchester HS), Deja Felder (Goshen/Goshen HS), and Whitney Williamson (Nashville/Brown County HS) are the last four players from that original team. Joining them at Commencement this May is Amanda Hunter (Monroeville/Bellmont HS), who became part of the team in its second year, and completed her degree in three years.
They’ve felt responsible to prepare their younger teammates for future achievement, and are excited about what lies ahead for them, especially with first-year coach Nicole “Colie” Trawick.
“When we came in, we were all freshmen, we didn’t have any upperclassmen to look up to,” said Williamson, who is earning a degree in hospitality and tourism management. “We’re just trying to coach the younger players as much as possible now.”
Butler, an informatics major, is impressed with how much the team grew under Trawick’s coaching.
“I think with the direction she’s taking us, it’s only going to get better,” she said. “Starting with how different our pre-season training was, and how she’s scouting, it’s all been for the better. Seeing how much we grew this year, I can only imagine how much we could have gained from her if we were freshmen.”
The Cougars overcame great obstacles in four years, from starting a program with no upperclassmen, to a last-minute coaching change in 2016. They’ve also made great strides, including compiling a 21-13 record in 2016-2017, and finishing as runner-up in the River States Conference.
The Cougars started the season in the 29th spot in the NAIA Division II women’s basketball pre-season poll.
They’ve also scored individual achievements. Felder, an exercise science major, is IU Kokomo’s all-time scoring leader, with 1,759 points. Butler and Williamson both are in the 1,000 point club, while Butler also earned the distinction of being the only Cougar basketball player to grab 1,000 rebounds.
Of all of their accomplishments, Trawick is most proud that they are graduating on time— or early, in Hunter’s case.
“They’re leaving a legacy and starting the culture we’re trying to build here,” she said. “They’ve shown great senior leadership this season. It’s been a privilege to coach them. I wish I had them for one more season, but this is how basketball goes. They have to move on to the next steps in their lives.”
DeWitt will return to the team in a leadership capacity next season, as a strength and conditioning coach, while earning a master’s degree in exercise science. Felder is looking at career options as a personal trainer.
Hunter plans to earn a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), and Butler is looking for a job in network security or programming, with a focus on graduate school in the future. Williamson has interviewed for a job in ticket sales with the Indiana Pacers.
DeWitt said it hasn’t really hit any of them yet that their college careers are coming to a close.
“It’s going to be so weird, and sad,” she said. “We won’t have to go to workouts for the first time in as long as any of us can remember. I’ll always remember the little things we’ve done as a team, and the relationships.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.