Elisa Inman: From basketball star to Dean of Students

Maggie Ballard, Staff Writer

Nineteen years ago, Dean of Students Elisa Inman was a high school sophomore standing on center court at Ohio State University. Her basketball team had just won the girls’ state title.

“When you’re on a sports team going through the sweat, the hard work and the early morning workouts, there’s a bond there,” Inman said. “Winning the state championship made it feel like it was all worth something.”

Although most students recognize Dean Inman from class meetings, few know about her basketball career that started in middle school. Inman then played basketball for Wadsworth High School and later played basketball at Purdue and Rice University.

On March 12, just after Field Day,  Inman flew back to Ohio to support the Wadsworth Grizzlies at the state championship game, which they won 60-51. The Grizzlies were playing against William Mason, the same school that Inman’s team beat in the 1997 state championship. Wadsworth had not won another state title until this year.

All the starters from the 1997 team were in Columbus to support the newcomers and re-experience the pregame rush. Their former basketball coach, Todd Osborn, joined them.

“It was definitely a walk down memory lane,” Inman said. “We all reminisced and sat together most of the night. It was great to watch them bring another state championship home to our town.”

Because she lived in a small town (population 21,852), Wadsworth’s state victory was “a huge deal” not only for herself, but for the whole town. When Inman returned, the enthusiasm was the same.

“Pretty much all of my hometown drove down to watch the team play, so I got to see people that I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years,” Inman said. “A lot of those teammates I haven’t kept in touch with. I got to see some of the people who had been my greatest high school friends.”

Dean Iman, bottom left of trophy, celebrates her team's victory. Wadsworth had not won another state championship until this March.
Wadsworth High School
Dean Iman, bottom left of trophy, celebrates her team’s victory. Wadsworth had not won another state championship until this March.

Despite having not been in contact with some of her teammates, Inman still felt a lasting bond with her old team.

“It was very much a family. And for a group of small-town girls, playing in front of 10,000 people at Ohio State was pretty scary and intimidating. We weren’t used to that.”

While Inman remembers the joy of winning a championship, she hasn’t forgotten all the hardships that came with it.

“Playing a particular sport at this high of a level, with that pressure of reaching expectations and trying to pursue excellence, creates a lot of different emotions over the years,” Inman said. “Sports can bring you some of the best and lowest memories. Both are valuable.”

Sports can bring you some of the best and lowest memories. Both are valuable.

Although few students know about Dean Inman’s basketball career, they see a correlation between competitive sports and her personality.

“It was so cool to learn she had that college basketball experience, and when you talk to her, you can definitely see the qualities of a great player, including responsibility and determination,” Head Prefect Joseph Hanson said.

Junior basketball player Caroline Johnson agrees.

“She’s such a good leader at St. John’s, so I can definitely see her being good leader on and off the court,” Johnson said.

Inman stopped playing basketball competitively after graduating from Rice in 2004.

“Basketball was a part of my daily life, year round, from when I was in middle school until I was 23 years old,” Inman said. “It is hard to let go of something you’ve been around that much, but I feel completely fulfilled athletically.”