Through 34 seasons, five people helmed the Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, women’s volleyball team. None, though, has left the school behind. On Aug. 24, they all gathered – along with nearly 30 former athletes – at an alumni match to pay tribute to the first, and most enduring, link in that chain.
Arnie Ball, who is retiring in 2015 after more than three decades at the school, arrived in fall 1981 to coach both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams. After the 1988 season, he handed the women’s team to one of his former players, Lisa Hormann, and focused on the men’s team, which has scooped up numerous conference titles and made six NCAA tournament appearances under his watch.
Hormann passed the program on to Tim Heffron in 1993 but still serves as the team statistician. Heffron left the post in 1998 and is now the school’s senior associate athletics director. Kelley Hartley Hutton took the reins from Heffron and, last December, was named the school’s athletics director. She bequeathed the women’s program to Steve Florio.
Florio ensured that each of the previous women’s coaches were in attendance at the match; Ball had been a supervisor, mentor or colleague to each of them. Heffron, for one, credits Ball as the father of the program.
Because of Ball, Heffron said, “volleyball at IPFW is something special.”