Ever since 1990, the men’s tennis team has been hosting an annual alumni tournament during homecoming week. It started out a few years after Head Coach Jim Daugherty took over the tennis program.
“Selfishly, I wanted to have a kind of reunion with my players...so this being open to all the players bring players from many decades together,” said Daugherty.
This year’s tournament is especially important as it is Daughety’s last year as head coach.
“I made a special point to be here because its Coach’s last year,” said alumni Pete Barnett. “ I appreciated him so much that I invited him to my wedding. And he came.”
Originally, the tournament was a father-son tournament since there were not enough alumni to hold a full-scale tournament.
“We started in 1989 [or] 1990 [and] we didn’t have a big turnout. So it turned out being a father-son tournament. And that was a blast. So as the alumni grew, we ended up having both because the parents loved having the, you know, parent, player, or father-son [tournament]—it was a combination tournament, and then the alumni tournament gradually grew and became a tradition,” Daugherty said.
“This is family to me,” Daughtery said “I need to find an excuse to meet them
Unlike some alumni tournaments, Daugherty doesn't use this as an opportunity to fundraise as the goal of the alumni tournament is to make connections through the game of tennis. Both the current team members and alumni are able to make connections through different generations and different worldviews.
“I think it's good to have our current players get to know the alumni,” Daugherty said. “I think it impresses them [current players] that the camaraderie that they’ve had in the past; when they see that I think it’s just good for them to connect. And then the alumni, who haven’t seen each other for a while, [it’s good for them] to reconnect.”
When asked about his favorite memory regarding alumni tournaments, Daugherty valued the overall purpose of the tournament rather than a specific moment.
“I think, overall, it's for me, it's the spirit of the event overall. And it's, it's watching the older alumni go into their bag of tricks and do little trash talking and making it fun,” Daugherty said.
Daugherty hopes the tournament will continue after he leaves Valpo tennis.
“I’m willing to come back...I need to find an excuse to reunite with them,” Daugherty said