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October 7, 2013

Rose-Hulman adds six to its Athletic Hall of Fame

TERRE HAUTE — Matt Smith and Andrew Schipper hadn’t seen each other in about 10 years until they crossed paths Saturday.

This wasn’t a surprise meeting because they knew they were reuniting for a common reason.

Both 2003 Rose-Hulman graduates were among six new inductees going into the engineering institute’s Athletic Hall of Fame over the weekend. Others added to the shrine were Robert Chandler (baseball, 2002), Christina (Forsyth) Drake (basketball, 2002), Chuck Howard (contributor) and Chris Unton (basketball, 2002).

Induction ceremonies took place Saturday morning inside Rose’s Sports and Recreation Center and the new inductees were introduced to the crowd at halftime of the Hanover vs. Rose-Hulman football game Saturday afternoon at Cook Stadium.

Smith, now 32, was honored for his success in men’s swimming.

He was Rose’s first NCAA Division III national champion outside the sport of track and field. Smith won the 100-yard breaststroke in the 2003 national championships to highlight a career that featured four All-America awards and third-team Academic All-America accolades.

 He also was a provisional qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Games, representing Estonia.

Schipper, 33, was honored for his unique accomplishments as a pole vaulter in men’s track and field.

He became the first six-time All-American in Rose-Hulman athletic history, placing second nationally in the 2000 NCAA Division III outdoor and 2003 NCAA Division III indoor championships to highlight a career that featured five top-five national finishes. He also won three Little State and three Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference titles.

“I am tremendously honored,” Schipper told the Tribune-Star afterward. “When you’re a student-athlete here, you’re just thinking about doing the best you can. … But today is a special day. All of that hard work was recognized here today. I’m really appreciative to Rose-Hulman, the student body, the faculty, the coaching staff, coach [Bill] Welch.”

Schipper didn’t hesitate to answer when asked about his fondest memory as a Rose athlete.

“It was the [2003 Division III indoor] nationals I competed in at DePauw, just the competition and the camaraderie there,” he said. “I remember how close I was to being a national champion. I almost had it.”

Smith’s reply to the same question also didn’t require much thought.

“Winning the national championship [in Atlanta] is a pretty good memory,” he admitted. “I remember the race. My start wasn’t the best, so I was trying to go as fast as I could over the last 75 [yards].”

Both former Engineers offered memories of their time at Rose-Hulman that go beyond winning or losing a championship.

“Rose taught me about hard work and how to prioritize my time,” Schipper said, “just staying after it, staying after getting things done.”

“In general, Rose-Hulman teaches you to work hard and play hard too,” Smith noted. “It really helps you prepare for life. At no time in my life have I felt unprepared for something in my career. We faced a lot of challenges as students here. … It’s just a really great place to be an undergraduate.”

Smith, who hadn’t been on the Rose campus for eight years until Saturday, works as a staff engineer at Burns & McDonnell in San Diego. He and wife Laura have been married for 21⁄2 years. They first met when he was in graduate school at UCLA.

Not surprisingly, he still swims twice a week.

Meanwhile, Schipper works as a senior water engineer for the city of Fort Wayne. He and wife Elizabeth have two sons and two daughters.

Smith and Schipper said they enjoyed following the women’s high-jump career of Rose-Hulman’s recent super woman, Liz Evans, through the Internet.

Smith added that he checks out how the Rose swimming team is doing when he can. He doesn’t mind that the current swimmers are trying to break his records, but he jokingly (half-jokingly?) mentioned that they should leave one record for him.

“Just one would be fine,” he said with a smile.

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