FORT WAYNE – IPFW will need to replace one of the most successful coaches in the university’s history.
Arnie Ball said Tuesday he will step down as the men’s volleyball coach after next season.
My wife (Sandy) and I had really talked about it during the whole season, Ball said. I’m going to be 70 years old (on Nov. 12), so we just said maybe we ought to come about to a conclusion to this thing.
Ball said he thought about making this past season his final one. IPFW went 21-7 and lost in the semifinals of the MIVA tournament to No. 1 Loyola Chicago on April 23.
IPFW athletic director Kelley Hartley Hutton said she was surprised when Ball told her he planned on leaving during a meeting late last week.
I think like a lot of people you wonder, but I just couldn’t ever picture my mentor, my friend ever leaving coaching, Hartley Hutton said. That’s who he is. You think of men’s volleyball. You think of IPFW athletics, and it is Arnie Ball. It is the name Arnie Ball.
Hartley Hutton said she has people in mind for who could replace Ball, but she declined to name any possible candidates. She said Ball will have input on who takes over the program.
I have not gone into that mode yet (of replacing Ball), Hartley Hutton said. What I’m focused on at this point is how we pay this legend proper tribute. How we make his last year both memorable for him but really meaningful to our institution too.
Ball has 551 wins with the men in his career, won six regular-season MIVA championships and led IPFW to six NCAA Final Fours.
The Mastodons’ best finish in the Final Four was runner-up in 2007. IPFW finished third in 1991, 1996 and 2006 and fourth in 1992 and 1994.
Ball came to IPFW in 1981 to coach the men’s and women’s program. He led the women’s team to four Great Lakes Valley Conference titles and earned berths in the Division II tournament in 1987 and 1988.
Ball played for Ball State and began his coaching career at Harding, where he led the team to three Indiana Volleyball Coaches Association championships.
Ball was the head coach of the United States North squad at the National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1983, and led teams at the Olympic Festival in 1987, 1993 and 1994. His team won gold in the 1994 games in St. Louis.
Ball was an assistant coach for the U.S. men’s team in the 1985 World University Games in Kobe, Japan, and was the director of the 1988 USVBA Junior Elite Camp in Boulder, Colo.
Ball was a scout for the U.S. national team in 2000, selecting the team for the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and he was coach of the U.S. team in the 2003 World University games. He led the team to bronze.
Ball was given the Hilliard Gates Achievement Award for his lifetime accomplishments and contributions to the sporting community of Fort Wayne in 2005 and a Mad Anthonys’ Red Coat in 2007.
He was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012.
Ball said that after he steps down he will spend time with his grandchildren, who live in Orlando, Colorado and Angola.
This is my 47th year teaching. I started teaching in 1967, Ball said. When the time comes to no longer do it, it will be very hard. I’ve been so fortunate to be associated with so many great people over those 47 years and the last 30 plus at IPFW. It will be a difficult time when it comes, but it needs to happen.