REPOST from ICE League

ICE League officially kicks off with successful draft day!

Ball State University football Coach Pete Lembo joined nearly 75 students from around the city Saturday at Muncie Central High School for the inaugural ICE League Draft Day.

Eighth-grade ICE League draft prospects line up during Draft Day on Feb. 7, 2015, at Muncie Central High School

Check out ICE League photo galleries, videos and news updates here!

The Inner City Ice League is sponsored by Project Leadership in partnership with the Ball Brothers Foundation. Non-profit groups including the Buley Center, Muncie Boys & Girls Club, Ross Center, and the YMCA drafted teams to participate in the season that runs through March.

“These students are participating in a new, special league that celebrates sportsmanship and also academic achievement,” said Tom Lyon, commissioner of the ICE League.

The ICE League is specifically designed to motivate participants to be strong student athletes as they move toward high school and post-secondary education. The ICE League aims to utilize sports and other activities to connect students and their parents to positive educational, healthy living and career pathway opportunities. Students must maintain a 2.5 grade-point average to fully participate in ICE League games.

“We’re seeing kids here that we’ve never seen before, and that’s awesome,” said Micah Maxwell, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Muncie.

Non-profits partners across the community were key to Saturday’s success.

“Project Leadership is always looking for innovative tools to help fulfill our mission of helping local students to and through college,” said Tammy Pearson, director of Project Leadership. “The ICE League fits into our toolbox because it places emphasis on strong academics.”

Project Leadership is a non-profit organization that provides college access and success program to area students in the form of 21st Century Scholar Enrollment, mentoring, financial aid labs, and other support services in Delaware and Grant counties.

After workouts Saturday morning when the student-athletes showed off their skills, coaches drafted players for their respective teams, which will be practicing at their home centers starting next week. Games begin the week of Feb. 16. The season will culminate on March 14 with a tournament at the Muncie Fieldhouse.

BSU Coach Lembo addresses students

During Draft Day events, student-athletes also heard from Ball State University football Coach Pete Lembo, who gave them some insight into what college coaches are looking for in a recruit.

Coach Lembo

BSU football Coach Pete Lembo talks with seventh-grade ICE League draft prospects during Draft Day on Feb. 7, 2015, at Muncie Central High School.

He didn’t talk about must-have skills. He didn’t talk about high-profile plays. Character and academics, he said, play a bigger role than athletics alone.

“It all counts. Nothing you do is unimportant,” he told the young student-athletes looking for a spot in the ICE League. “Someone is always evaluating you and what you do.”

When an NCAA coach is evaluating an athlete, he said, it is a three-part equation: 1/3 character, 1/3 academics, 1/3 athletics.

“Coaches are looking for the whole package,” he said at the ICE League Draft on Saturday, Feb. 7. “We want passion, skills, and guys that love the game the play. We want overachievers.”

Hard work, consistency, and character are what it takes, he said.

“There is always a place for players that make the team great in various ways. Often, those guys are more valuable than a single player with a lot of ability that doesn’t perform consistently.”

He noted that the NCAA has strict requirements on academics.

“You are ultimately responsible for yourself and your own future, so be aware of what is going around you,” he said. “Am I taking the right classes? Am I hanging out with the right people? Am I getting better at the things that are important? It all matters.”

He also encouraged the student-athletes not to let technology and social media drag them down.

“Your phone will become a distraction and take time away from what should be your priorities: academics, athletics, and developing relationships with people.”


He also noted that coaches DO check out a prospective player’s activity on social media.

“That shows your character, values, and what you are really focused on,” he said.

He encouraged the student-athletes to step up and be a leader in their community as well, and to keep in mind that they are a role model and a representative of their community.

He ended with a simple reminder:


“Please take some time to say ‘Thank you’ to your parents, coaches, sponsors, and all the other people that have made it possible for you to be here today and do what you love to do,” he said. “Don’t take that for granted.”


For more information about the ICE League, contact Coach Tony Benford or visit