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Bittersweet Ending For an IPFW Legend


Photo credit: The Communicator Archives

Written by: Communicator StaffMarch 18, 2015

By: Rachel Given

IPFW’s head men’s volleyball coach will be retiring after the 2014-2015 college season. Arnie Ball has been the head coach since the men’s volleyball program started at IPFW 35 years ago.

Ball played and graduated from Ball State University then came to Fort Wayne to coach volleyball at Harding and New Haven high schools. Ball also coached basketball and baseball at the high school level.

In 1981, Ball began his career at IPFW, taking on both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams. The women grabbed four Great Lakes Valley Conference championships under Ball’s leadership. He ended his coaching with the women’s team after eight years with a winning record 231-102.

Ball’s favorite season with IPFW was the 1991 men’s volleyball season when IPFW faced Ball State in the NCAA tournament.  IPFW defeated Ball State and went to the first NCAA final four. “It’s euphoria,” Ball said, “It was at my alma mater, it was a five game set, it was a great match, a big crowd, and the final four was in Hawaii!” This was also the first year Ball’s son, Lloy, played for him.

“I learned more from a high school basketball coach, than I ever learned from even my college volleyball coach.” Ball noted when reflecting on his coaching habits. If you were to attend an IPFW game, you can hear everything Ball tells his players, no matter how close you sit. You can see his excitement or anger through his wailing arms and pacing from the sidelines to the court.

Ball hopes the next coach of the team “continues the tradition we built here, by recruiting top quality athlete students”. He uses the terminology backwards, “volleyball players come here to play volleyball and then get an education”. Ball notes that in the past eight years, “we’ve had 100% graduation rate, our kids do graduate”.

Photo Credit: Margo Kelly

Photo Credit: Margo Kelly

If one is thinking about coaching any sports, Ball suggests, “You have to have a passion to do it, because the time commitment is way more than you expect when you go in.”

“I don’t want to coach a team anymore, I’ve done that part,” Ball says. With his free time he has once he retires, Ball would like to work with young coaches and do coaches clinics. “Some schools have already called me about coming down and working with their team preseason”, Ball says wanting to stay involved in the game. “I would also like to expand that maybe beyond volleyball and work with coaches in general.”

Outside of the court, Ball likes to watch video tape during the season. “My wife thinks I’m addicted,” Ball jokes. Ball is also a big college basketball fan. “I watch a lot of basketball games, and I try to learn from watching how coaches’ coach and I try and watch how players play.” Ball said.

Ball does not want to put up with another winter like this, but plans on staying in the Fort Wayne area. “I will miss the people, I will miss challenge, and this has been my life for 48 years, it will be hard to give it up”

“It’s been a great career,” Ball said, “IPFW’s been wonderful to me.”

The next home games will be on March 28 against Lewis, and April 4 against Ball State.