JIM PETERS: Chesterton grad Houpt plays in five NCAA D-III tourneys at Rose-Hulman

2014-05-21T17:00:00Z 2014-05-22T00:32:08Z JIM PETERS: Chesterton grad Houpt plays in five NCAA D-III tourneys at Rose-HulmanJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 21, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

College in and of itself is difficult, let alone juggling academics and athletics.

If you happen to need advice on the subject, you'll want to give Alec Houpt a call.

The Chesterton graduate is a little over a week from getting his diploma at Rose-Hulman Institute, where he majored in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aeronautical Engineering and a minor in Optical Engineering.

While accumulating a grade-point average above 3.5, Houpt not only played basketball, but also soccer. Yep, two sports.

"Some people ask me about it and I say the same thing," Houpt said. "I don't think it's really that tough. I enjoy it all, so it doesn't seem stressful. Time flew by."

In the process, Houpt became the first Fightin' Engineer (love the nickname) to participate in five NCAA Division III tournaments. That's ever. He was part of three basketball teams (2012, '13 and '14) and two soccer teams (2011, '13) to qualify.

"First of all, he's a great kid from a really good athletic family," RHI basketball coach Jim Shaw said, "They really get the big picture. Alec came here with the thought in mind of getting a great education and it was also important to him to do his very best in two sports. That's really challenging, particularly at a school like Rose-Hulman."

How did Houpt do it? Time management, of course, was paramount. Border-line sleep deprivation was also a requisite.

"Rose-Hulman is a very helping place," Houpt said. "If I slept through a class, I could get the notes from my friends."

Houpt only missed a few classes for over-sleeping. With no sports and a lighter class load in his final quarter, he's catching up on sack time.

"It's a strange adjustment, actually getting eight, nine hours of sleep instead of five or six," he said. "I have a lot of free time right now. I don't know what to do sometimes, not having actual sports."

RHI's basketball team went 82-29 during Houpt's career, the winningest mark for a graduating class in school history. Houpt started this season, averaging 7.5 points per game and shooting 59 percent, while being widely regarded among Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference coaches as its best post defender.

"He was a vital element to any success we had," Shaw said. "He was just a really a great defender, a good mid-range shooter who had some big games when we really needed it. He really evolved in the program each year."

Like at Chesterton, Houpt was defined as a role player who didn't mind doing the dirty work.

"That's always been my game, to do whatever the team needs me to do," he said.

Houpt's unselfishness was especially evident in soccer, where he stuck it out despite being the back-up goalie and only appearing in four matches.

"A large part of it is I just love playing soccer," he said. "I love the game, I love the people I play with. Only one person plays the majority of the time, but if he goes down, you're playing every minute of every game."

More than anything else, Shaw will remember Houpt for his team mentality.

"That was always first and foremost on his mind," Shaw said. "That's all he really cared about, the only thing that was important to him."

Graduate school is next for Houpt, who hopes to work with rockets and jet engines some day, but sports isn't going to totally disappear from his lifestyle. Not a chance.

"I'll keep playing as long as I can," he said, "for the enjoyment."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.

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