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INDIANAPOLIS — Renee Turpa is a basketball lifer in every sense of the term with a coaching background dating back to 1979 before retiring and now serving as the assistant director to Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.

Before arriving in Michigan City, Marquette Catholic coach Katie Collignon served on the Valparaiso University staff where she struck up a fast friendship with Turpa.

Turpa, the former Portage coach, picked up Collignon from the airport when she interviewed with the Crusaders. When Collignon needed an assistant at Marquette, she turned to her old friend and VU road-trip roommate for help.

"I'm so thankful Katie talked me out of retirement," Turpa said. "I initially took this job to help a friend and it worked out great. Between the girls and her, and the girls accepting that maybe this old lady knows a little bit about basketball, you can't ask for a better story. What an incredible run."

In all her years of coaching, Turpa never reached the big stage of the state finals, often bringing her teams to watch from the stands. She'll now have a ring to show off.

"I have the basis of Indiana basketball in me from being a little kid," she said. "For me, this is so cool. I'm involved so much with basketball in Indiana, and to be able to experience this is a dream come true."