Lori Kerans

In this Feb. 20, 2018 file photo, Lori Kerans poses for a photo in Millikin University's Griswold Center.

1. What is your basketball background, from your time growing up until your retirement as Millikin women's basketball coach in 2018.

Growing up in Jasper County during a time when there was no cable TV, no Internet, no cellphone, I had the freedom and blessing to live simply and enjoy the outdoors. As an elementary age kid, my favorite activity was to shoot at the hoop nailed onto the pole light in our gravel, large circle driveway.

There were no opportunities to play competitive basketball, so I simply played because I loved it. At Newton Grade school (where my mother was a kindergarten teacher), I would arrive to the playground early and play with the boys until the bell rang. I really appreciate those boys teaching me the “game."

When I started Newton Community High School as a freshman, we were blessed to start our first girls basketball team, with my Dad, Bob Kerans, serving as our head coach. I am so grateful for the older girls, who were much better athletes, welcomed the freshmen and showed us how to be a team.

I chose Millikin University as my college home, mostly because of the outstanding academic programs, but also because of Harriet Crannell, the pioneering women’s basketball coach for the Big Blue, and the amazing women student-athletes who “wore the blue." In the post-Title IX era, Millikin intentionally committed to providing opportunity for women to compete in intercollegiate athletics at a high level.  

Following Coach Crannell’s retirement from coaching, I was given the opportunity to be the second basketball coach in Millikin’s history.  In the 48 years that Coach Crannell and I led the Big Blue, there were many championships, many awards, many amazing experiences; but what I cherish most from my basketball experiences are the opportunities to compete and the people who have made those opportunities available to women!

2. Is there a standout moment (or are there standout moments) during your coaching career that still leave you in awe?  

During a 32-year coaching career, there were moments every day that left me at awe — moments in practice, moments in a game, moments on the bus, moments on the recruiting trail. However, I would have to say that my proudest moments were watching the student athletes walk across the graduation stage and join our Big Blue family forever, as Millikin alumni.

3. Do you have any advice for young athletes who want to play sports in college?

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Things that I have learned along the way that others have shared with include: cherishing the opportunity to play and to respect every facet of the game, including preparation, teammates, opponents, support staff and officials. Be gracious, say thank you, and be a great teammate!

4. What does your position as the director of alumni engagement entail?

As the director of alumni engagement, I have the opportunity to connect with those who love Millikin— alumni, family, friends of the University, faculty, staff, retirees, and community. Having just completed my first year in this new role, I am still learning. However, some of the lessons I learned in athletics have transferred well into my daily work now: joy, preparation, respect, gratitude, and being a great “teammate”!

5. When you are not busy at work, what are some things you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I love to stay active in the community and in my church, Holy Family Catholic Parish.   

I need look no further than my family, Millikin University, and the greater Decatur community to find opportunity and inspiration every day!

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Contact Kennedy Nolen at (217) 421-6985. Follow her on Twitter: @KNolenWrites


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