Deborah Ruth Rupp g76
Deborah "Deb" Ruth Rupp coached at Fort Wayne Bible College (FWBC) during the decade from 1982 to 1992, a period when the women's volleyball and women's basketball teams' programs achieved unparalleled success on the court. She also served concurrently as Athletic Director for nearly half of those years and taught on the faculty during her time at FWBC. While her record as a coach merits special recognition, she is being particularly honored for her positive influence and impact on her players' personal lives.
Deb spent most of her early childhood in the Dominican Republic as a missionary kid, until her family was evacuated during the civil war in 1965. She still maintains contacts with Dominican friends from her family's repeated contacts with the island nation. It was there that she first learned to play baseball with neighbor boys. And it was there, in San Juan de la Maguana, that Deb first committed her life to Jesus Christ.
After returning to the United States of America (USA), Deb would go on to play volleyball, basketball and softball in high school; first in Wauseon, Ohio, then at Northrop High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Deb continued her athletic exploits at Taylor University, in Upland, Indiana during the dawn of women's collegiate varsity athletics, playing field hockey, basketball, and softball. During her senior year, she won the Golden Glove Award and helped lead the softball team to the 1976 Indiana Women's Intercollegiate Sports Organization State Championship. She also graduated that same spring with a B.S. in Education, Physical Education and Health. She later added a Masters of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Seattle Pacific University (1982) and did further studies at the United States Sports Academy, Indiana University, and Ball State University.
As the new volleyball coach at FWBC, Deb served notice of things to come with a 12-7 record her first season (1982) coupled with big wins over higher division teams, including Huntington. The next year (1983), the squad went 12-5 (matches)/31-18 (games) despite a tougher schedule, defeating such teams as Tri-State, Bethel, and Earlham. Her third year (1984), the squad went an amazing 26-1, avenging their only loss with a subsequent victory over Bethel College and winning the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Regional title; but their quest for further glory stalled there for lack of an officially sanctioned NCCAA National Tournament. While the volleyball program never again attained quite the same level of success, the Falcons remained competitive at the NCCAA Regional level as long as Deb coached. Several players would earn NCCAA Regional honors, while Melissa Burgess was named a first team NCCAA All-American in 1992.
Deb took her FWBC Falcon basketball teams to NCCAA Division II Mideast Regional and National prominence as well. The Lady Falcons crowned their 1983-1984 season with an NCCAA Division II Regional Championship and a trip to the NCCAA Division II National Tournament in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Falcons would return to the NCCAA Division II National Tournament two more years in a row, first in Knoxville, Tennessee, then in Toccoa Falls, Georgia.
The 1984-1985 team proved very special, as the squad went undefeated (14-0) in the regular season and set several records at the NCCAA Division II National Tournament, including: most field goals made by a team in one, two, and three games; most points scored by a team in two games; best field goal percentage by an individual in two and three games; and tying the individual record for steals in a game with six. The team finished fourth in the nation, and Deb was named NCCAA Division II Regional Coach of the Year.
During this same time period, Falcon women's basketball players earned repeated NCCAA Division II Regional, National Tournament, and All-American honors. Deb Rodriguez and Betty (Rychener) Rahrer were among the players who received multiple national awards. Coach Rupp herself was recognized with the NCCAA Meritorious Service Award on May 19, 1992, for her years of leadership on the Regional, District, and National levels. Later, in August of that same year, she co-coached an NCCAA Division II All-American Basketball Team that toured Costa Rica. Deb had previously led an athletic ministry team from Fort Wayne to the Dominican Republic over a Christmas break.
While Deb's time at what was by then Summit Christian College (SCC) came to an end after the school's merger with Taylor University in 1992, her church commitments, community contributions, and professional accomplishments have continued unabated, and various local organizations have drawn upon her leadership skills. Her work as a teacher benefits from her bilingual background and inter-cultural experiences. It comes as no surprise that Deb has been recognized repeatedly for her excellence in the classroom, including a listing in Who's Who Among America's Teachers (1994), as well as her recent award as the New Haven Middle School Teacher of the Year (2007).
What brings Deb far greater pleasure, however, are the many personal thank you's and unsolicited tributes that she has received over the years and that continue to pour in from former players, students, and their parents. For it is her involvements with her players' personal lives and the ways in which she has motivated and inspired her students that constitute her greatest legacy.