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The Journal Gazette

  • Ben and Jordan met at IPFW in 2007 and were married in 2016. The couple will celebrate Valentine's Day at the Gates Center.

  • Courtesy photos IPFW men’s basketball assistant coach Ben Botts and his wife, Jordan Zuppe Botts, met when they were basketball players at the school. The couple expect a low-key Valentine’s dinner after tonight’s game.

  • Courtesy photos IPFW men's basketball assistant coach Ben Botts and his wife, Jordan Zuppe Botts, met when they were basketball players at the school. The couple expect a low-key Valentine's dinner after tonight's game.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 1:00 am

Basketball united former Mastodons

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

IPFW vs. Western Illinois

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Gates Center

Records: IPFW (16-12, 5-6 Summit League), W. Illinois (11-12, 2-8)

Radio: ESPN 1380 AM/100.9 FM

For IPFW men's basketball assistant coach Ben Botts and his wife, Jordan, it's only fitting that the Mastodons have a Valentine's Day date with Western Illinois at the Gates Center.

The couple met at IPFW during summer classes in 2007 when both were on the basketball teams and business majors. They got married in August 2016.

“We played similar positions, we're both small guards,” Ben said. “We just always would both be in the gym, as well, whether it was in our own time, they practiced after us or we practiced right after them. Back then, Saturday doubleheaders were more common in the Summit League.”

The two were friends but didn't actually date until late in their college careers, but throughout the four years, the “Love and Basketball” movie references were not unfamiliar to them.

“We got razzed a lot with that, the Q and Monica. That was kind of us,” Ben said.

Jordan grew up in Pennsylvania in a basketball family; her dad was a coach and she played for her uncle. Ben is a graduate of Muncie Central.

The couple's passion for basketball helped them handle a long-distance romance.

Ben went to Xavier to be a graduate assistant while Jordan went to Saint Francis (Pa.) to be the director of basketball operations for its women's team.

The most memorable Valentine's Day moment came during that period.

“We always had that conversation, the love of the game, we knew what schedules were like,” Jordan said.

“That distance thing went away. It was hard at times, but we knew what we were doing and that helped us get through it.

“We're pretty low-key when it comes to Valentine's Day, when it comes to holidays and birthdays.

“ I think one time he sent flowers when I was at Saint Francis (Pa.) and he was at Xavier. We just enjoy each other's company.”

Unlike basketball, holidays aren't a huge deal in the Botts household. So it will be with Valentine's Day.

“A lot of times, I might be on the road and coming back from a road trip,” Ben said.

“This year, it happens to be at home and a game night. We'll go out to dinner or something like that. You won't find either one of us going out, last-minute shopping.

“We do like candy, cookie dough, stuff like that, but we'll probably grab takeout on the way home from the game.”

areichel@jg.net