IU's Tailgate Tour Stops in Merrillville
June 1, 2009
MERRILLVILLE, Ind. - Approximately 200 people gathered in the Celebrity West Ballroom of the Radisson Hotel Star Plaza in Merrillville, Ind. for the fourth stop on the IU Tailgate Tour. Alumni and supporters from Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area turned out to listen to volleyball coach Sherry Dunbar, women's basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack, football coach Bill Lynch and men's basketball coach Tom Crean speak.
Athletic Director Fred Glass opened the evening, sharing with the crowd his philosophy for Indiana Athletics and his leadership style.
"We are focused on success, but we are trying to have fun in the athletic department too," Glass said. "I think you will see that fun breeds camaraderie and success."
Don Fischer, the Voice of IU Athletics, emceed the event, introducing Dunbar to the enthusiastic crowd. The third-year head coach talked about the importance fans play in the success of the Hoosiers.
"I am excited to be here and I want to thank you so much for the support you give Indiana," Dunbar told the crowd. "I can't tell you how much (the North End Zone Project) you are helping to fund is affecting every sport at IU."
Fresh off a trip to Italy with her team, Legette-Jack displayed her trademark enthusiasm in addressing the crowd, sharing with them the tight-knit bond that is the IU athletics family.
"We are raising this team, this athletic department, as a family," Legette-Jack said. "We are going to continue to raise the bar of athletics together. I know we are on our way to something real special."
Lynch took his turn speaking to the group, getting the gathering pumped up for the football season ahead, beginning with the Thursday night season opener against Western Kentucky on Sept. 3. He also touched on the role Northwest Indiana has played in IU's football history.
"Northwest Indiana is very important to us," Lynch said. "Growing up in this state, I know this is football country. This is an important area for us to recruit. We need everyone's support, as this is a unique year for us. We are celebrating 125 years of Indiana football, and we are doing it in a renovated stadium."
Crean, who was signing autographs and taking pictures from the moment he walked in until the last person left, closed the event. Crean spoke of his staff's renewed effort to make Northwest Indiana a focal point of IU basketball. He specifically mentioned the contributions of IU greats Matt Nover and Dan Dakich, both of whom hail from the area.
"We realize we need to get in here," Crean said. "We have to make sure people in this area realize IU basketball is alive and well. We are going to recruit the entire state, and this is not an area anyone is going to forget about."
The tour continues on June 3 at Ceruti's Catering in Ft. Wayne, and Dave Buehler Plaza in Jasper, Ind. on June 4. The tour wraps up with a trip to Indianapolis on Aug. 26.
Check back soon