Archive for April 28, 2012



RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. – It took a little more than three months, but the Western Panthers have their man. By a unanimous vote by the school board on April 27, Nate Andrews was hired to lead the Panther football season into its next era of excellence.

“We want to win with character, class, moral integrity – both off the field and on the field – and (Andrews) vision of how he wanted to develop youth and how he handles the classroom is what sold us,” said Western Athletic Director Ryan Berryman. “On paper, he is a class act and I know he is going to do good things.”

Andrews comes to the Panther program after holding the same position at Class 1A Lapel High School, where he compiled a 25-31 record in five seasons. During the 2008 campaign, his Bulldogs went 10-3 and won the school’s second Class 1A sectional title – which earned him a spot as an assistant coach on the Indiana South All-Star team. He previously was a six-year assistant coach at Zionsville. Now, he wants to bring that winning attitude to the Panthers.

“A lot of the people I talked to, including (Berryman), have the same vision – not only to take this program to another level but doing it the right way,” said Andrews. “We want to make winners in life, and that is what I am about. To have an entire school headed in that direction was music to my ears. I grew up in a community like this, an athletic community, a smaller community, so this is a good fit. It feels right.”

Andrews grew up the son of a high school football coaching legend in Nappanee. His father, Jim Andrews, was the NorthWood High School football coach before being killed in a car accident when the younger Andrews was in the eighth grade. The elder Andrews compiled a career record of 150-67 in 20 seasons on the sideline, winning six sectional titles and two IHSAA state runners-up trophies. And while those statistics will be hard to match, the new Western coach will use his father for inspiration.

“He started the program (at NorthWood) and never had a losing season,” said Andrews, who noted the NorthWood football field is named after his late father. “They were by far the smallest school in the league – they were 3A when everyone else was 4A and 5A. He is my role model and idol.”

Andrews is no stranger to winning. At NorthWood, he earned 11 varsity athletic letters. In football, he led the school to the Class 3A state title game, was an Indiana North All-Star (making him one of the few who have played and coached in the game), and set school records for rushing and touchdowns for a game, season and career. He also set school records in track and was a seven-time Northern Lakes Conference individual champion. But his biggest accomplishment came on the wrestling mat, where he was crowned the 1996 IHSAA state champion at 171-pounds and set school records for season and career pins.

Following high school, Andrews took his talents to Ball State University where he played in all 44 games of his career, although he switched to defense and played strong safety and linebacker. Three times he was named the team’s Most Outstanding Athlete and in 2000 he was team captain. His Cardinals also won the Mid-American Conference championship and the Las Vegas Bowl. His accomplishments in high school and college earned him a spot in the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame.

But now, it is time for Andrews to take over the Panther program left vacant by Alix Engle, who resigned during last year’s Christmas break. Engle left the program with a record of 58-23. His .716 winning percentage is the best in Western’s history. Nw Andrews will need to figure out how to keep a Class 3A program on the winning path after serving as coach of a much smaller Class 1A system.

“I was at (Class 4A, which transitioned to Class 5A) Zionsville for six years, so I know a little about coaching big schools,” said Andrews, who will teach advanced physical conditioning at Western this fall. “I grew up in a Class 3A school and a Class 3A environment, so I know exactly what it is, what it is about, and what it takes. I also played at Ball State, so I know a little about playing at that higher level. My Dad was in a 3A program and could have gone elsewhere, but he was where he wanted to be. That is who I am – I am not the guy who is looking for the big job. I want to be somewhere where there is stability and where they care about me and my family.”

When asked what type of system he will bring to Western, Andrews said it will depend on the student-athletes and the coaches.

“Wow, that is a good question. I would say in high school I was a little more offensive minded – I don’t know why, I just was,” said Andrews. “And then in college I was recruited by many schools as an offensive player but Ball State from the get-go recruited me as a defensive back. Then went to Zionsville and coached on defense until they moved me to offense before they moved me back to defense. At Lapel, I thought I would be an offensive guy because I thought you could make more of an impact there as a head coach at the high school level. And yet, my staff didn’t work out that way so I took the defense. Who know what is going to happen here once I get the staff together.”

Andrews is a “big family guy” and says “they are a huge part of my life. My wife Kati is a second grade teacher at Lapel and a volleyball guru, as I say. My daughter, Viviana, will be three in June and she is special. The other day we were in the back yard, and before she ran down the hill, she had to get in a perfect three-point stance and yell ‘hut, hut’ before taking off. And I have a nine-week old son named Cooper. He already has a set of shoulders on him.”

Andrews said that once his duties at Lapel are over, he will be fully involved with the Western program, including the possibility of running a summer youth program. Just 112 short days after being named the leader of the Panthers, the Russiaville community will get at their new guy as they will play a to-be-determined opponent on Aug. 17 before kicking off the Mid-Indiana Conference campaign against Taylor two weeks later. Let the games begin.



RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. – All good things must come to an end, and for the Western Panthers boys basketball team, that end has come. After a decade-and-a-half of owning the Panther Pride sidelines, boys basketball coach Andy Weaver resigned on April 23 and accepted the same position with Plainfield High School.

In 15 seasons at Western, Weaver posted a record of 207-132 (.610), produced six sectional championship teams and claimed numerous Howard County and Mid-Indiana Conference titles. His 2003-2004 squad finished 23-3 and advanced to the Class 3A Final Four and his 2010-2011 team advanced to the Class 3A Elite Eight with a 19-5 record.

Only once in the last 10 years has a Panther team failed to break .500, and four of the last seven teams had 17 wins or more. Over the course of the last 10 seasons, Western compiled a record of 166-67 (.712). Weaver was presented the Bob King Coach of the Year Award (District 2) by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association following his Final Four season.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Plainfield Athletic Director Dana Greene cited Weaver’s preparation as being second to none and a big reason why they hired the 45 year-old coach. Plainfield finished last season 1-20 and has not won a sectional since its Class 3A state championship season of 1999. The Quakers have not had a winning season since 2008-2009.

Weaver also coached three years at Pioneer and has an overall varsity coaching record of 226-176 (.562). He is married, has three children and will teach math at Plainfield.


KOKOMO, Ind. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Council of Presidents is pleased to announce the approval of four institutions for full membership in the NAIA – including the Indiana University Kokomo Cougars.

It was less than two years ago that IU Kokomo Chancellor Michael Harris announced the campus would offer club sports, with the intention to become an NAIA member school within the same year.

“This is a historic moment for Indiana University Kokomo. As members of the NAIA, our athletics program will play a vital role in moving our campus forward, not only for IU Kokomo but for north central Indiana as well,” said Harris said. “We have achieved great milestones in record time.

“I am grateful to Jack Tharp, Sarah Sarber, and Kathryn Stremiecki for their dedication and commitment to ensuring a successful athletics program at IU Kokomo. Also, much appreciation goes to our athletics advisory board and many others who have contributed to this momentous occasion.”

Including IUK, the four new NAIA institutions are Georgia Gwinnett College, Lindenwood University-Belleville in Illinois and St. Andrews University in North Carolina. These institutions will compete as full NAIA members effective Aug, 1, 2012. All but St. Andrews will be eligible for NAIA championships beginning with the 2013-14 season. Because St. Andrews is a returning NAIA member, its athletics teams will be eligible for championships beginning with the 2012-13 season.

“We are pleased to accept these quality institutions as NAIA members,” said Ted Brown, chair of the NAIA Council of Presidents and President of Martin Methodist College in Tennessee. “This was the first year of a new process put in place to strengthen the review of membership applications, and it has worked well. We are taking a hard look at schools to make sure they are a good fit with the NAIA, so it’s more about a good fit than pure numbers.”

The four new NAIA institutions were among the first set of schools subjected to the NAIA’s new, more rigorous, annual membership process. The NAIA Membership Committee reviewed each institution’s application and determined which institutions would move to the next stage of the process. Those institutions then participated in a campus visit by a Membership Evaluation Team. The results of those campus visits were reported to the Membership Committee, which then decided whether to recommend institutions to the Council of Presidents for final approval.

Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO, noted that these new members were subjected to a more rigorous analysis than in the past.

“Our process ensures that the NAIA membership is strong and that new members share our values,” Carr said. “We’re pleased that this new process is working and that more institutions than ever are inquiring about membership with the NAIA. We think the NAIA has a lot to offer, and we’re excited about sharing our story with other potential members.”

Under the new process, institutions are only able to apply for NAIA membership on an annual basis. Membership applications must be received in the NAIA office by Oct.1 each year to receive consideration for the following year. Institutions applying to the NAIA must meet membership criteria that include sports sponsorship, accreditation and a commitment to character-driven athletics. The Membership Committee also reviews enrollment numbers, graduation percentages, retention rates, recruiting budgets, total athletics expenses and total athletics revenue.

The NAIA received seven applications in 2011, but only four made it through the entire process and received approval by the Council of Presidents.

(Combined Sports Journal, IU Kokomo and NAIA report)