|Amelia Noel guides Indiana University's players.|
|Photograph by Rachel Axsom|
A decade ago, at Harvard, Noel earned four varsity letters as manager of the men's swim team. After graduation, she took a job with the Women's Sports Foundation, which opened her eyes to the wide range of issues involving Title IX athletics. As she began looking around the country at athletic programs and graduate programs, she was drawn back to her native Indiana and the university, where her parents had met in graduate school. She took a job in the academic advising office, then run by the legendary Elizabeth "Buzz" Kurpuis, who oversaw one of the best programs in the country. Kurpuis became Noel's mentor; when she retired late in 2000, Noel who had recently defended her dissertation and earned her Ph.D. from Indiana in educational policy took over her job in January 2001.
Although Noel says she was initially wary of advising's "touchy-feely" nature, she soon found that her office was anything but. There is no hand-holding at Indiana: athletes must make an effort to achieve and succeed on their own. "Sometimes the students need a little bit of a kick in the butt, as well as a supportive environment, and we provide both," she notes, matter-of-factly. Interacting with the athletes, she says, is the best part of the job for her she keeps in touch with Indiana players when they turn professional and encourages them to continue their education. A box in her office is stuffed full of their thank-you notes.