Former IU volleyball coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan’s athletic career came full circle Friday night.
As she was inducted into the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame, she couldn’t help but think how perfect of an ending it was.
Dunbar-Kruzan stood up at the podium in the Monroe Convention Center in Bloomington and had the opportunity to thank all of her family and friends.
“The night I gave the speech at the Hall of Fame I was thinking ‘this is really the last thing I’m going to do that’s big in sports,’” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “The last thing I did was in my hometown, in front of so many family and friends, and that was truly full circle.”
The circle started at Edgewood High School where the 6-foot-2, 130-pound Dunbar-Kruzan played volleyball and basketball.
Everybody was telling her she’d have to bulk up if she wanted to pursue basketball. But one of her assistant volleyball coaches, Karin Wallenstein, who played volleyball at IU, told her volleyball was the way to go and started helping Dunbar-Kruzan get her name out there.
Ball State came to a basketball game to watch Dunbar-Kruzan play and offered her a scholarship for volleyball, and that’s where she decided to play in college.
As a Cardinal, she finished her career in the top 10 in blocks, kills and hitting percentage. After graduating, she originally wanted to be a teacher and coach high school volleyball, but then she got a call from Wallenstein to be her assistant coach at the University of San Francisco.
She spent four years at USF, and then became an assistant coach at Tennessee for six seasons before getting her first head coaching job at the College of Charleston.
As the head coach, she totaled a record of 113-22 with four Southern Conference regular season titles, three Southern Conference Tournament titles and three trips to the NCAA Regionals. She was inducted into the College of Charleston Hall of Fame earlier this year.
She then came to coach at IU in 2007. In her 11 seasons as a head coach in one of the NCAA’s toughest conferences, Dunbar-Kruzan finished with a record of 162-196 and a conference record of 56-165. The brightest moment came in 2010, when she led the team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
It was after this most recent season where her contract was not renewed. She was not going to be coaching for the first time in 25 years.
“The whole year has been kind of a crazy year,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “Getting inducted into the College of Charleston Hall of Fame, the stuff with IU and just moving on. It’s been kind of a rollercoaster, but with a lot of positives.”
Dunbar-Kruzan said she had opportunities to coach at other colleges, but she told her husband she didn’t have the energy to do it right.
For the 25 years of coaching and as an athlete in the years prior, Dunbar-Kruzan was a gym rat. She was the cliché first one to arrive, last one to leave — practicing with her teams, meeting with her staff, heavily recruiting and coming up with game plans.
Now, instead of working tirelessly to prepare her team for the upcoming season, she takes road trips for fun, where she can sit back and enjoy them.
She recently took a trip to upstate New York, where she has been before, but only to fly in to play Penn State and then fly out. This time, she realized the beautiful country landscape there, how there are vineyards everywhere and called it gorgeous.
As the summer winds down and fall approaches, Dunbar-Kruzan does have something on the agenda that isn’t the start of the 2018 volleyball season. In August, she’s starting her new career as a corporate trainer for TASUS Corporation, a plastic fabrication supplier that has four plants in Bloomington, Texas, Alabama and Canada.
Her job will involve a lot of leadership training, which she is no stranger to, with the company’s executives, operators and supervisors.
“I thought it was very relatable,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “You still feel like you’re being really productive and helping, and you’re using your leadership skills that I’ve gained over the 25 years of coaching and working with teams of people to help make them better. I’m going to have to learn a lot, but I think it’s going to be a really cool, new step for me."
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