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From Bulldogs to Polar Bears

Most prospective ONU students enter the outskirts of Ada and immediately feel a hint of disappointment. Sure, they knew it would be a small town, but it doesn’t quite hit them until they drive past the three stoplights and realize they missed everything.

It’s hard for big city kids to imagine living in Ada for four years, much less grow up in the village.

But for others, Ada is simply home. They grew up in the village and graduated from Ada High School with a class of around 70 students.

With 17 varsity sports to choose from, those Bulldogs have plenty of opportunities to become involved in athletics, and dozens have gone on to play in college over the years.

Out of the 551 athletes currently listed on Ohio Northern varsity rosters, six are Ada graduates. For them, transitioning to college in Ada was an easy process, and several of them experienced successful careers right out of the gate.

Senior Kara Dysert and junior Morgan Dumbaugh are members of the women’s basketball team, a squad that currently has a 17-3 record and is in the hunt for an Ohio Athletic Conference championship, with an 11-2 record in conference play.

Dumbaugh leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game, while Dysert is right behind at 12.6 ppg, and ranks in the top 10 in program history in scoring, rebounding, free throws and blocks.

The pair credits much of their success to the amount of time they’ve played together; they’ve been teammates for six of the last seven seasons.

“Coach [Michele] Durand always talks about our chemistry since we’ve played so long together,” Dumbaugh, a health and physical education major, said. “How many college kids get to say they played most of their high school and college career with their best friend from high school?”

Dysert, an exercise physiology major who moved to Ada from Lima before her freshman year of high school, is well aware of the adjustment period most other athletes have to deal with in a transition to Ada.

“I remember how much of a culture shock it was for me to move here, so I know what other students are adjusting to,” she said. “I’ve been here for eight years and now I can finally say I’ve adjusted.”

Despite the culture shock Dysert describes, both players agree that being close to their family helped their transition to college athletics.

“Coming to ONU was the best situation for me – I knew I’d be able to play right away and I already knew my adviser and my coach,” Dumbaugh said. “Living at home saved a lot of money and it was important for my family to be able to come to games.”

"We always tease our teammates because we get to sleep in our own beds and eat home-cooked meals,” Dysert agreed. “I don’t think I would have been happy four or five hours away where my family wouldn’t have been able to come to games.”

These sentiments are echoed by sophomore John Beaschler, an electrical engineering major and member of the men’s swimming team, which just won its fifth straight OAC regular season title.

The son of head wrestling coach Ron Beaschler, John enjoys his family’s frequent presence at swim meets, despite his dad’s busy coaching schedule.

“It’s awesome. My mom rarely misses a meet, and my dad comes to as many as he can,” Beaschler explained. “It’s nice to be able to go home afterwards, and my grandma can still bring me cookies,” he said with a laugh.

Those cookies have apparently helped Beaschler to a breakout 2011-12 season, as Beaschler ranks in the top six of the conference in four different individual events.

An All-OAC performer as a freshman, Beaschler noted the homely feel Ada always had as he grew up.

“I loved growing up here. Even when you were 10 years old, you could ride your bike anywhere in town and it was no big deal.”

While that coziness may not necessarily be the most important trait to those prospective students trekking into Ada for the first time, Dysert realizes it was beneficial in her growing up process.

“Sure it’s not the ultimate college town, but it’s been a great place to grow up.”

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