John Ingold sits calmly in the driver’s seat as the Goshen College baseball team piles onto the bus. A smiling Ingold, clad in a purple Goshen College jacket and a black leather flat cap, greets each player by name. As soon as everyone is packed in, Ingold closes the bus doors and off they go to their next away game.
In the past four years alone, Ingold has logged over 100,000 miles and 2,500 hours driving Goshen College athletes and students all over the country. A regular conference game for any Goshen athletic team requires an average of four hours of driving for Ingold. Remarkably, he does all this driving on a volunteer basis. The college pays his expenses, such as meals or a hotel room, but Ingold doesn’t get reimbursed for his time.
“It’s one way to support the college in general,” Ingold said.
Valerie Hershberger, assistant physical education professor at Goshen, explained how helpful it is for Ingold to drive the bus.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion over the years about how hard it is for coaches to do everything on top of driving, getting up early to teach and driving late into the night,” Hershberger said. “We’ve relied on John heavily.”
Ingold first arrived at Goshen College as a student in 1955. He studied agriculture his first two years with the goal of becoming a farmer before switching to physical education. He was always involved in sports growing up and decided a career in teaching would enable him to coach.
For Ingold, service to others has always been a large aspect of life. After graduation, he was interested in alternative military service, even though he was never drafted, and he applied to the Africa-America Institute. The Africa-America Institute is an organization that aims to help Africans get educated, regardless of whether or not they are living in Africa.
After beginning master’s classes at the University of Illinois in biology, Ingold was accepted into the Africa-America Institute program. He made the decision to get a master’s degree in biology because he thought the exclusive Africa-America Institute program, made up of mostly Ivy League school graduates, would be most impressed with a biology degree. As it turned out, the Institute wanted him for his physical education degree, not his biology degree.
After orientation for the program, John and his wife Margaret were sent to do their service in Ghana, Africa. Ingold coached and taught at the Accra Academy in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
After returning from Ghana, Ingold began his teaching career at Goshen College, where he stayed for 34 years. He found that teaching was the right career for him. “I really liked the classroom, but I liked everything about teaching,” Ingold said.
Being a professor allowed Ingold to do what he loved–to coach. “I coached in the golden era,” he explains. The “golden era” being the time when student athletes participated in multiple sports, not simply one sport year-round.
Ingold went on to coach 74 separate Goshen athletic teams. He proudly states that he’s coached all seven men’s teams at least once in his 34 years at Goshen College. He had the most success coaching soccer, never losing more than four games in any season.
The toughest things about coaching for Ingold were the trips and recruiting. “Each decade it seemed it took more time, athletes wanted more contact,” Ingold said. One aspect he is very proud of is Goshen’s reputation for scholar athletes. At one point, Ingold proudly boasted, he had more scholar athletes on his team when he coached soccer than the whole conference combined.
These days, aside from driving the Goshen College buses, Ingold can be seen around the Goshen campus running, which he does regularly. As one of the founders of the GC Joggers, a group who jogs and records their miles, Ingold has been running for most of his life. At the age of 72, he is running three miles in 24 minutes, roughly eight-minute miles. The group consists of Goshen College faculty and staff who together have logged over 100,000 miles. “It keeps people exercising regularly,” Ingold said of why the group is important.
Ingold’s contributions to Goshen College and especially to Goshen athletics have been tremendous. In 2008, he was awarded the Dr. Ruth Gunden and Dr. Roman Gingerich Champion of Character Award. The award is given annually to alumni who have done significant service to the college while demonstrating Goshen’s core values in their lives.
“He’s contributed so much to Goshen for so many years. It was a nice award for him,” Hershberger said. “Of course he wouldn’t expect something like that or think he was worthy of an award like that.”
For Goshen College, John Ingold truly has been indispensable. He is a vital part of the community and provides much of the “behind-the-scenes” support for the college, especially in the athletic department. So the next time you see John running or driving your bus to a sporting event be sure to give him a friendly wave or hello and it will most certainly be returned.