IPFW makes unprecedented move with new recruiting class

The pending retirement of Hall of Fame coach Arnie Ball did not slow down IPFW’s recruiting efforts.

Ball on the verge of entering his final season announced during the weekend that high school seniors Alex Dickmann, Kyle Fitzgerald, Austin Neace and Graydon Schroeder all signed to letters of national intent to join IPFW in 2016.


“This is unprecedented for us to have this many signings in the early signing period,” Ball said in statement. “We usually don’t get that luxury, so we are very excited that all four of these individuals decided to come to IPFW. They are obviously high quality athletes, as well as very good students.”

Dickmann, a 6-foot-4 opposite from Addison, Illinois, earn high school all-conference honors during his junior season as he set a school record for career kills with 954. He also helped his club team finish in fifth place at the 2014 USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championship and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Fitzgerald, 6-foot-6 middle attacker from Waukegan, Illinois, has been a high school all-conference selection for two consecutive seasons. As a multiple-sport high school athlete, Fitzgerald played on the volleyball and basketball teams and made the academic all-conference team.

Neace, a 6-foot-4 outside attacker from Naperville, Illinois, has participated in the USA Volleyball High Performance program for the last two years. In addition, the outside attacker was named an all-conference honorable mention with his high school team last season.

Schroeder, a 6-foot-5 middle attacker from Brookfield, Wisconsin, had more than a .500 attack percentage as a senior and lead his high school team to its first conference title in program history. He also earned first-team all-conference honors and was an all-state honorable mention.

All four of these recruits will be the first freshman class to play for IPFW’s unnamed new head coach.

Ball, the only head coach IPFW’s history, announced in May that he would retire following the 2015 season. In his more than 30 years at IPFW, Ball has more than 500 career victories and guided the team to six appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

The Mastodons finished last season in fourth place in MIVA and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals for the first time since 2007. IPFW returns a majority of starters for the incoming season, including all-conference setter Omar Rivera.