Basketball takes coach around world

IUS Horizon

Robin Farris
Robin Farris

Basketball has taken Robin Farris around the world, but for the last 20 years, it has kept him at IU Southeast as head coach of the women’s basketball team.

Farris first began playing basketball in Wapakoneta, Ohio, which is also the birthplace of Neil Armstrong.

Farris hasn’t walked on the moon, but his beginnings in Wapakoneta enabled him to play college ball at the nearby, Tiffin University.

In his senior season in college, Farris was named the most valuable player, scoring, a team high, 26.8 points a game and led the Dragons to a Mid-Ohio Conference championship.

“I scored 26 a game as a point guard, but I wasn’t big enough to play in the NBA,” Farris said.

Instead, Farris decided to continue playing and moved to Europe, where he played six years of professional basketball in England and another year in Scotland. After playing four years of college ball and seven internationally, Farris said he had realized it was time to stop playing.

“You reach an age and your body starts telling you it’s time to stop,” Farris said.

Instead of leaving the game completely, Farris took a job offer in Norway and began coaching Division I men and women’s basketball teams. In his second season as coach, the women’s team won the national junior title in 1988, after which Farris decided to come back to the United States.

“My only brother lived in Louisville, and I liked the bigger town, so I decided to move here,” Farris said.

There was an opening at IU Southeast for a head women’s basketball and volleyball coach. Farris got the job for both and coached both for 16 years before deciding to step down from the volleyball spot.

“I liked coaching volleyball a lot. I got to coach a lot of great players, but it started to become impossible to coach both,” Farris said. “I was having to miss a lot practices and games.”

Despite the conflicting schedules, Farris managed a 328-193 record as the IUS volleyball head coach. Four of his teams made NAIA national tournament appearances.

“One year we were playing in the regional tournament, which we won and right after I drove back to coach the basketball game that night,” Farris said. “I got back at halftime and we ended up losing the game [laughs]. It probably would have been better if I just stayed away and let my assistant finish the game.”

During the last 19 seasons coaching basketball, he has been named the KIAC coach of the year eight times, won seven conference championships, three regional championships and led his 2001-02 team to the sweet sixteen of the NAIA national tournament.

As far as his coaching philosophy, Farris said he tries to teach his teams the importance of playing aggressive defense, looking for fast breaks when there’s an opportunity and executing the half-court offense, all the while being smart and taking care of the ball.

Aside from coaching, Farris enjoys playing tennis, which he picked up 15 years ago and more recently he’s been learning to play guitar. Farris also likes to travel.

“I try to go overseas every year. Most summers I go and meet up with friends that I met through basketball,” Farris said.

For five years, Farris participated in an over 40’s basketball tournament in Europe.

“Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more expensive to travel outside of the country,” Farris said.

Staff Writer