by GREG SIERING
When Kayla Bashore arrived in Bloomington as a freshman in 2001, it was to play field hockey for Indiana University. When she returned in January, it was to lead that same program as its new head coach. Bashore, 36, is one of IU field hockey’s most notable successes. In college she was named a two-time All-American and a four-time All-Big Ten player. After graduating from IU in 2005, she joined the U.S. national team and played in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
A Pennsylvania native who first picked up a field hockey stick in the ninth grade, Bashore was recruited to play at IU by the program’s founding coach, Amy Robertson, the person who, Bashore says, helped shape her burgeoning athletic talent as well as her character.
“The coaches I had were so transformative in my life,” Bashore says. “Only after I left IU did I realize the impact Amy had on me.” She says Robertson focused on the whole person, valuing the student-athlete’s well-being and personal growth. Bashore says that’s a big part of why she came back.
“My values are very much in line with IU’s,” she says, noting her admiration for IU Athletics’ Excellence Academy and its leadership programs for student-athletes. “I want each of my players to leave here as an empowered young female,” Bashore says. “But of course, we want to win games and championships, because that’s what athletes do.”
Returning to Bloomington with her husband, Craig, and their 4-year-old son, Corbin, has been an eye-opening experience for Bashore. “When I was a student, I thought, ‘Oh, people here have families,’ but I didn’t know what people did with their kids,” she says. Now, she realizes how many kid-friendly places and events Bloomington has to offer, such as the Monroe County YMCA, the Monroe County Public Library, and cultural events like IU’s First Thursdays festival. She appreciates Bloomington’s cultural, racial, and economic diversity, saying, “It is important for my son to see diversity as he grows up.”
Bashore and her husband have lived a lot of places. “Seeing so much of the country made Bloomington even more attractive,” she says. “It’s a little hippie and a little laid back, and that’s me.”