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Game, set, match: IU women’s tennis coach Lin Loring leaves the court after 44 years

Jan. 18, 2017

Walking into coach Lin Loring’s office, the first thing that draws your eye is a bulletin board crowded with photographs of smiling people, holiday cards and handwritten letters.

Lin Loring

It was important to Loring to teach his athletes to prioritize their academics over everything else. | PHOTO COURTESY OF IU ATHLETICS

And that’s just from the past year. Loring has many more tokens of appreciation sent from his former players during his tenure as the IU women’s tennis head coach. Loring will retire after 44 years with the program, 40 of those at the helm.

Loring said he prefers to measure his success by what’s on the bulletin board in his office rather than by his career wins or Big Ten tiles. (But, if we were counting, it would be 846 and 16, respectively.)

He pointed to one photo of a group of women surrounding a bride. He said the bride is one of his former players. She was recently married on the IU tennis courts, and all of her bridesmaids were her former teammates. Loring attended the wedding, as he has for so many of his other players throughout the years.

“That’s what I’m talking about right there,” Loring said. “My memories are the events that go around coaching ... the weddings and the reunions. It’s not the tennis memories. There are over 1,000 tennis matches in there, which are hard to differentiate.”

In addition to creating a family atmosphere and memories that will last a lifetime, he has racked up an impressive record while at IU. He is the all-time wins leader in women’s college tennis, and the first coach in Division I women’s tennis history to surpass 800 wins. During the span of his career, he received the National Coach of the Year award twice and the Big Ten Coach of the Year award five times. He has coached All-Americans, All-Big Ten selections, Big Ten Athlete of the Year honorees and eventual IU Athletics Hall of Fame members. But his proudest accomplishment is the 100 percent graduation rate to those students who exhausted their eligibility under his coaching.

“A year from now no one will remember how many wins I had,” Loring said. “The fact that my students graduated and went on to be good citizens and good alumni of the university is what I’m most proud of.”

Loring attributes this success to his recruiting style. From day one, he said he always made it clear to his recruits that their No. 1 priority was their academics. This meant that players knew they could ask to be excused from practice if they had a big test the next day. They knew they were at IU to get an education, he said.

“It was my goal to teach them how to have their priorities in line,” Loring said. “You’re their mom, dad, brother and sister for four years. You naturally assume those roles for your players, and because their families entrusted them to me for four years, I always took that responsibility seriously. I wanted to make sure there was a good outcome.”

Archived photo of Coach Loring

Coach Loring has spent the last 44 years with the IU women's tennis program (40 years at the helm). | PHOTO COURTESY OF IU ATHLETICS

That’s why the bulletin board of memories is so important to him. It means his players had a good experience while they were at IU, he said. 

Loring acknowledges that 44 years is a long time for someone in his line of work to stay in one place. But, coming from a military family, putting down roots was important to him. And, Bloomington drew him in.

“Bloomington is a great town. All the alumni love coming back. People who don't live here wish they did,” he said. “From an athletic and cultural standpoint, Bloomington is a great place to be.”

Loring will remain in Bloomington and is looking forward to spending more time with his two teenage daughters, Taylor and Magdelena.

“I’ve never thought about it in terms of leaving this legacy,” he said. “I have a lot of fond memories to look back on, and I hope I’ve left the program in good shape.”

Lin Loring's dedication aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success.

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