The End of an Era


On February 17, 2018, Millikin women’s basketball head coach Lori Kerans prepared for her last game.

It was the end of an era, and as one of her players, I had a front row seat.

For a team not used to playing in front of large crowds, the amount of people who came out to celebrate Kerans’ 32 years at the helm of the Millikin women’s basketball program could have been intimidating. Instead, the team put on a show for the crowd, securing a 19 point victory over North Park University.

There could not have been a better ending for both Coach Kerans or the six seniors in their final game wearing the Blue. Though our record may not show it, it was a season to be remembered.

With under a minute left, Millikin called a timeout, first to honor the seniors, and then to honor Kerans. She blew kisses to the crowd giving her a standing ovation; she hugged her seniors.

The number in the win column wasn’t as high as any of us would have liked, but the amount of memories that were made is overwhelming.

First of all, she took us on a four day cruise to the Bahamas after we played two games in Florida.

When we played North Central at home, she predicted we would win by three. If she was right, she said she would treat us to IHOP. If we won by more than three, she promised us a meal at Fuji, a Hibachi restaurant near campus. Needless to say, we enjoyed our Fuji after a nearly 20 point victory.

Local radio personality Aric Lee put a microphone on Kerans, and he listened to her through headphones for the entirety of the game. That means he heard her say, “wouldn’t it be cool if I could do the moonwalk?” when she celebrated one of Devin Curry’s three-pointers.

Though it was her last game, Coach Kerans treated it like she would have any other game. She wanted to win. Our speeches before the game and at halftime were similar to those I have heard at any game throughout my three years at Millikin.

Seeing her tears before and after the game made tears well up in my own eyes. Hearing the way that her former players rave about her, I realize that she has done so much more for me than I ever thought a basketball coach of mine would.

Through every practice, the hard work we put in was a simulation of the rest of our lives. Not only that, but the values that she preached both on the court and off the court have shaped all of her players, including myself, into better people than they were before.

Seeing the outpour of support from the Decatur community at the game helped me to realize just how big of an impact she has had on the city and all of the wonderful people who live here. An even bigger realization, though, came when I heard the long distances that were traveled by some of her former players, just to attend her final game.

Though her final game was truly a special event, it is not what I will remember the most. I will never forget when she first called me to begin the recruiting process. Then, when I visited campus for the first time, and she helped me to fall in love with Millikin the way she did.

Lori Kerans was never just a basketball coach, she is so much more than that. She may have 556 career wins to boast about, but the number of lives she has changed, and will continue to change as the Director of Alumni Engagement and a member of the Decatur community, is a far greater achievement.