Life has been interesting for Ryan Bowerman to say the least. The personable former North Montgomery High School volleyball coach has traveled much of the world already in his short life, but now Bowerman will soon land in Kokomo as the new volleyball assistant coach at Indiana University-Kokomo.
For Bowerman, accepting the job is just another step in his life that has taken him across a major portion of the globe.
A love affair with volleyball started when as a young boy Bowerman would go watch his parents, Brian and Cathy Bowerman, play the sport competitively. Bowerman first started coaching volleyball as a junior at North Montgomery High School. Charger volleyball coach Jodi Webster was looking for assistants when she got some good advice from another Charger coach.
“Charley German was the athletic director and he suggested Ryan,” Webster said. “I knew right from the start that Ryan had a gift in coaching. Ryan’s love for the game has always been clear. You can see the glimmer in his eyes when he gets in the gym.”
Bowerman graduated from North Montgomery in 2007 and followed his family’s legacy by attending Wabash College. Bowerman’s father, is a Wabash College graduate as are other members of the Bowerman family. Arguably the most famous in the blood line is Charlie Bowerman, who is a sports legend from Alamo High School and was an all-American athlete for the Little Giants.
However, before his first class at the local college, Bowerman and his North and Wabash classmate, Jake German, took off on an adventure which included a month-long trip to Europe with Charger certified athletic trainer Isaac Hook.
“Having Isaac go with us was part of the deal with our parents because they thought we needed an adult,” Bowerman explained.
While at Wabash, Bowerman was the president of the college’s volleyball club for four years. He also continued coaching at North Montgomery during that time.
Bowerman’s love for international travel was also fueled while studying at the local college. Bowerman, in conjunction with Wabash, traveled twice to Ecuador and also visited friends in the Dominican Republic and Spain during Thanksgiving breaks.
Finally, in 2011 with a Wabash College diploma in-hand, Bowerman decided to use his experiences in Ecuador to do something extraordinary. He signed up to teach at the very place he visited as a Wabash student named Yachana School. Bowerman made the choice to live in the amazon jungles of Ecuador in the Napo River region. The school, which poor students who lived in the jungle attended, had few modern conveniences. Bowerman slept surrounded by a mosquito net and did most of his traveling by foot on trails through the jungle.
“You could only get to my new home by boat up the Napo River,” Bowerman said. “I am glad I taught at the school for one year because it taught me so much about myself and other cultures.”
While in Ecuador, Bowerman blogged about how living in a rainforest started to change him after just one month.
“Some of (the changes) are obvious surface changes I have made as I become accustomed to a new lifestyle,” he said. An ice cold shower doesn’t phase me. Sleeping under a mosquito net seems pretty standard. I can’t remember why I ever needed to eat a meal with a utensil other than a spoon. Three hours of electricity a day is more than enough. Three and a half days does not seem like an unreasonable amount of time to download a song from the Internet. Continuing to sleep after the sun comes up seems like a ridiculous waste of time. These are all adaptations that happen quickly. A few days with these changes and it’s hard to remember how things were before.”
Bowerman went on to blog that he was changing on the inside also.
“(Other changes) happen within our minds as we are exposed to new surroundings,” he said. “We become more open, more accepting, more grateful, more thoughtful, more aware. Little by little we become a different person all together.”
After he completed his year in the Napo River region, Bowerman decided to come back to Crawfordsville. Of course, Webster was pleased to have her assistant coach back during the 2013 season. But, his stay in his hometown did not last longer than the volleyball season.
Bowerman got an invitation from a friend to go to the country of Peru to work. Bowerman packed his bags yet again for another step in his journey with intentions of working for a long time.
“I had a friend who started a business in Peru who was doing non-profit work with bees,” Bowerman explained. “We were educating the people on the importance of bees to the ecosystem, and I honestly believed I would be there for a very long time.”
Then during the Christmas season, Bowerman got an email from former Frankfort High School volleyball coach Heather Hayes, whom Bowerman had coached club volleyball with. The email set another change in Bowerman’s plans.
“I know you are not in the country right now and I don’t even know where you are.” Bowerman said about how the email started. The rest of the email was Hayes’ invitation to join her as a graduate assistant volleyball coach at her new job as the head coach at IU-Kokomo.
“I thought about it for about two hours and I knew I wanted to do it,” Bowerman said. “Coaching college volleyball was something I had always thought about getting into. The job would allow me to get a foot in the door of coaching college and also will allow me to get my master’s degree in Arts and Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Global Studies. In two years I will be able to continue coaching or go back to international work with non-profits.”
With the decision made Bowerman decided to leave Peru. Of course, he decided to go to Madrid, Spain and live with a friend for two months before returning to Montgomery County.
Bowerman’s first practice with his new team is Monday. Webster believes the new college coach will do just fine.
“It is exciting for Ryan to move on to the collegiate level,” Webster said. “He is a natural teacher of the game. I know this is just the next step in his volleyball journey.”
For now, Bowerman’s journey will be in Kokomo. Only time will tell where the next adventure will be.