Boone Grove senior Kelly Dobson on Jan. 13 signed her letter of intent to play for the Indiana University Northwest Lady RedHawks basketball team in 2010-11. Surrounded by her family, coaches and teammates in the Boone Grove High School Library, the 5-foot, 11-inch forward formally cast her basketball fortunes with a talented RedHawk squad that will nonetheless benefit immediately from her multifaceted contributions on the court.
“They play really hard. You can tell that they want to win,” Dobson said of this year’s RedHawk team after signing her letter and posing for photos with her family, teammates and future coaches. “I really like that.”
Dobson is a 4.0 student who intends to study nursing at IU Northwest, and who qualified for a full-ride academic scholarship. She credited the university’s acclaimed nursing program as one of the reasons she chose to play college ball here.
“They have a really good nursing program. And I wanted to stay close to home and my family,” she said.
Dobson also credited the Lady RedHawks’ head coach, Ryan Shelton, with making a strong case for the school’s basketball program and her potential role in it. This year, IU Northwest is 11-6, and sophomore forward Sharon Houston (Merrillville) is establishing herself as one of the top NAIA players in the nation. Dobson will join a team comprised largely of sophomores and juniors, but Shelton predicted that her impact next year would be significant.
“Kelly exhibits all of the values and characteristics that we look for at our university and in our basketball program,” said Shelton, who attended the signing with associate head coach Loretta Soria and two other university representatives. “I know the School of Nursing is just as pleased and delighted to have her as we are. She’s going to be a perfect fit for our basketball program. It starts with her character and personality and high-caliber academics. And she’s a tremendous player at the same time.”
Dobson is currently leading the sixth-ranked (2A) Boone Grove Lady Wolves (12-1) in scoring (14.2 ppg), rebounding (5.2), 3-point field goals (22), and field-goal percentage (48.9 percent). Additionally, she ranks second on the team in 3-point percentage (33.8 percent), steals (31), and free-throw percentage (81 percent).
“She’s a very versatile player,” said Boone Grove head coach Candy Wilson. “She’s probably one of the purest scorers I’ve ever had. She’s great inside, has great touch on the ball. She’s great outside. She can handle the ball. Just a great athlete. It’s hard to find a kid who can play inside-out like that, especially at the college level.
“She’s a great kid, very reliable,” Wilson added. “And she’s a very unselfish player.”
Dobson was voted her team’s Most Valuable Player in both her sophomore and junior seasons, and she was selected Porter County All-Conference the past two years. In 2007, she helped lead Boone Grove to the sectional championship as well as the 2008-09 PCC Tournament Championship. This year, she and her fellow Lady Wolves won the South County Tournament Championship. Dobson has been named to a variety of all-area and all-state teams during her career.
Dobson’s parents expressed pride and excitement that their daughter would be playing basketball at IU Northwest while pursuing a degree in a high-demand career field. Her mother, Belinda, said the IU Northwest program’s emphasis on academics also impressed her.
“When we talked to Coach Shelton, he made it clear that their education comes first,” she said. “That was really important to hear. Because (nursing) is going to be a rigorous program. Being in sports and taking honors classes all through high school, she’s gotten pretty good at that.”
“That’s a good field to go into, the medical field,” Kelly’s father, Gary Dobson, added. “Good insurance, good wages. And she can go anywhere in the country (with a nursing degree). That’s exactly what we were hoping she would go for.”
The Dobsons have attended a few games at IU Northwest this season, they said, and they were struck by the level of excitement and fan support that surrounds the team, as well as by the talent on the floor.
“They’ve got a good program there. I’ve been really impressed,” Gary Dobson said. “It’s going to be fun.”