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Foul call
One fond memory was playing a basketball game (for ISUE then) in 1970. We played some of our games in the old Rex Mundi High School gym that year. I recall one game that was being officiated by Dr. Charles Bertram. Charlie was an ISUE professor at the time. He called a foul on me, and I remember looking at him like I thought he was crazy. After the opponent shot his free throws, and we were running back up the court, Charlie came up beside me and said, "Sorry, Bob, I blew that one." That was Charlie — as honest as the day is long. He is one of the old guard from USI's roots who continues to be sorely missed. Charlie passed away in 1999.

Robert Swan '72, accounting
Senior Partner, Kemper CPA Group LLP
Evansville, Indiana

Men’s basketball national championship
One exciting memory is from 1995 when the men’s basketball team won the NCAA Division II National Championship in Louisville, Kentucky. With the team down by 22 points at halftime, some fans left thinking there was no way. I guess they didn’t know Bruce Pearl very well. I stayed and watched one of the most exciting games of my life. The team took the court after halftime and never looked back. The fans were yelling, stomping their feet, and waving pom-poms and signs the whole second half. The team heard us and responded with a game that few people will ever forget.

Joyce Babillis
Administrative Associate
College of Business

Family connection, women’s soccer, and more
When Norma [my twin sister] and I were maybe 10 years old, Mom [Sandra Lawrence of the student wellness program] and Dad took us to a USI basketball game against Kentucky Wesleyan College. Of course, the game was sold out and the game was close. I remember that at that game I first learned there was a three-point shot in basketball. I was watching the scoreboard. KWC scored, and the score went up three points! I was furious that the scorers got it wrong! That is when my father explained the three-point shot!

"In every experience I looked to make sure that Mom was watching!! And guess what...? She was and still is!!"
Second, being a part of the first USI women's soccer team was a wonderful experience and excellent memory. The best memory was that in our first year in existence we made it to the NCAA tournament (losing in the first round). After our last regular-season game, we were sure we did not make it to the tournament. But we were called in the next day to be told that we had been invited! We came back the second year to make it into the Sweet Sixteen!

Other things I remember are Norma eating fire the week of homecoming, Mom dressed up as a blood drop for a blood drive, Mom and her secretary dressed as Hans and Franz for freshman orientation, meeting John Hollinden [former USI men’s basketball player], attending the Eagle Gran Prix when I was in grade school and then riding in it as a student, Norma becoming the Delta Zeta homecoming queen, meeting my husband Grant ’98, and many more....

The last is that Norma and I learned how to swim in USI's pool, how to play soccer/basketball at the camps, how to become a certified lifeguard, how to be a business professional and many other life lessons!! In every experience I looked to make sure that Mom was watching!! And guess what...? She was and still is!!

I love USI and the memories and influence it has had on my family!

Elizabeth Lawrence Childers ’00, business administration
Business Development Manager-Pharmaceuticals
CREW Corporation
Westfield, Indiana

(Liz’s mother, Sandra Lawrence, died in November 2004 after a 16-year career with the USI Student Health Center and Student Wellness Center.)

Going to NCAA volleyball tournament
My favorite story about USI is my experience with the volleyball team. I made my most important friends ever and had the time of my life. As freshmen, we came in and went 12-13. After that season, the freshmen got together and decided that we wanted to win conference and go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Despite four different coaches in four years, we accomplished that goal in 2002. It was the time of my life. All during the time, I cannot express the support we felt from the administration at USI. The coaches with USI volleyball have touched all of our lives so much that we now have three former USI players coaching in college. Every year over half of our team gives back to the Evansville community by coaching club teams for girls ages 12-18. It is definitely a great story of the people that USI brings in to help its athletic teams. This was the best time of my life, and with all the friendships I have made, it is still going.

Shannon Wells ’05, elementary education
Merrillville, Indiana

Determination follows disappointment
I have so many memories of USI, and a lot of those date back to ISUE days. As a new student in fall 1972, I remember being totally clueless about what I was going to do with my life while, at the same time, embracing new friendships, intramural sports, and, of course, classes and tests. I struggled, worked a lot of jobs, and finally succeeded in getting that degree (the first in my family to do so). More importantly, it was my counselor, Seymour Brodsky, who arranged an independent study class at WEHT-TV station Channel 25 that led to full-time employment. It was the greatest opportunity I could have hoped for in an industry that, I had been assured, would be impossible to enter.

That first job opened many doors for me and I have no idea where life would have taken me if not for the chance to prove myself. USI provided me with that opportunity, and I will never forget it.

"One such memory involved the basketball team. Under Wayne Boultinghouse, the University was finally making a name for itself after years of mediocrity."
I have a lot of other warm memories as a student, as an employee, as an alumnus, and as a fan and Varsity Club member for the athletic teams, attending theatre presentations, and just about everything else that happens on campus. I look with pride at growing enrollment, and remember the struggles everyone faced as the fledgling institution broke away from Terre Haute and worked to establish its own identity.

One such memory involved the basketball team. Under Wayne Boultinghouse, the University was finally making a name for itself after years of mediocrity. The final weeks of the 1976-77 season were winding down and the team had won several games in a row. The team members were led to believe that if they won their final game on the road at IUPUI (now Division I), they would be invited to the NCAA Division II tournament. They won that game and finished the season with a 19-8 record but were denied the tournament bid. It was a bitterly disappointing moment to a highly talented group of players, but it was a pivotal moment in the school's athletic history.

The players who came back the following year did so with a determination to make up for the snub, and they did. The team finished at 19-9 and not only made the NCAA tourney, but defeated a tough Northern Kentucky team in the school’s first tournament game ever. The next night they were narrowly defeated in the Regional championship game. I was among the 50-75 Eagle faithful who braved snowy, cold conditions to drive to those NCAA games held on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. There was a feeling amongst those loyal fans in attendance that we had just witnessed the start of something big.

It would be 16 years before USI would win its first NCAA championship, but that's where the foundation was laid, and it was that group of fans that still forms the nucleus of today's Screamin' Eagles Varsity Club. It was great being there in the beginning to better appreciate where it is today.

Doug Claybourn ’77
, communications
Assistant Vice President/Regional Sales Manager
Fifth Third Bank
Evansville, Indiana

Athletics — from the beginning to a cow tale and beyond

USI Athletics has come a long way in a relatively short time. The University was only 30 years old and the basketball program was even younger when the men’s basketball team won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 1995. These recollections are from my memory and reflect my biases, so I hope most of you saw things the same way. Being in the middle of basketball country, basketball received the first emphasis. Now Kenny Kent Lexus, under the ownership of Robbie Kent, sponsors many athletic events; then Robbie Kent played on one of the first club teams.

My husband Charley Bertram started officiating Indiana high-school basketball games after he graduated from Haubstadt High School and continued to call games for 30 years. He had the privilege of refereeing the final high-school game in the historic Central High School Gym; he had no idea that night that in a very short time, he would officiate the first Indiana State University Evansville game in the re-opened Central Gym. Before then, games were played at Rex Mundi High School. Basketball was on its way at the newly re-painted red, white, and blue Central Gym!

The basketball program continued to grow under the leadership of numerous coaches. The Varsity Club was started, a women’s basketball program was initiated, scholarships were awarded, the University joined the NCAA, and the Great Lakes Valley Conference was begun with ISUE becoming a charter member. In just over 25 years, the GLVC has become one of the most highly regarded NCAA Division II Conferences.

Various other sports for both men and women have been added. The men’s and women’s cross country teams quickly achieved national recognition. As more men’s and women’s teams were added, the job of the compliance officer became bigger and bigger. Charley’s most gratifying personal achievement as faculty representative was to document and receive one more semester of eligibility for Chris Bowels. All NCAA rules must be complied with, and any known university infraction must be self-reported. The most notable self-report involved USI’s best-known men’s player — Stan Gouard, currently the assistant men’s basketball coach at Indiana State University. Stan was a junior college student who was being recruited by Coach Bruce Pearl’s assistant coach, Rick Herdes. On the way to a USI game, while driving in Southern Illinois, Stan had an accident involving a cow on the road. Having a disabled car, he called Rick Herdes for help. Rick was well aware that the University was not to provide transportation for a recruit but felt that these were extenuating circumstances and NCAA forgiveness would be requested later. On Monday morning, Charley called the NCAA and self-reported the infraction of rescuing and transporting a recruit. The woman taking the infraction call thought it was quite funny and said that to her knowledge it was the first report of a recruit accidentally killing a cow and needing transportation. It was recorded as a minor recruitment violation. Stan came to USI and the rest is history!

Charley was particularly proud of USI’s All-Americans and of LeAnn Freeland being awarded an NCAA graduate scholarship.

Charley attended many games, GLVC meetings, NCAA conferences, and compliance meetings, and he made many good friends. At the time of his death, he also was a member of the Division II nominating committee, which met twice each year. In 2002, Charles Bertram and Stan Gouard were enshrined in the GLVC Hall of Frame. Since that time, both LeAnn Freeland and Elly Rono have become GLVC Hall of Fame members, too.

Charley would want me to thank all of the administrators, support staff, athletes, coaches and fans for making USI Athletics what it is.

Mary Alice Bertram
Widow of Dr. Charles J. Bertram, USI Faculty Athletics Representative and NCAA Compliance Officer, Co-founder of the Varsity Club and Co-founder of the Great Lakes Valley Conference

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