KOKOMO, Ind. – A teenage job cutting the grass for the Indiana Pacers general manager led Randy Fishman to a decades-long career in sports, both in broadcasting and game operations.
While he’s retired from broadcasting, he continues to run the game clock for the Pacers — and does the same job for the Indiana University Kokomo basketball program, as well as keeping statistics records for the volleyball team.
The bonds he’s created with student athletes led Randy and his wife, Esther Fishman, to support the campus’s new Student Activities and Events Center, which will have a locker room named after them in acknowledgement of their gift.
Randy Fishman said he’s been honored to play a small role in campus athletics, and wants to reward the dedication and drive he’s seen in the students who participate. He specifically mentioned the volleyball team’s come-from-behind win to earn a place in the NAIA national championships in 2019.
“All it took was one hiccup, and we were done,” he said. “Their win shows heart, determination, drive, all things that make good people even better. To be a very small part of this group has been so rewarding, so for me to have the chance for us to be part of this new facility is fabulous.”
Esther Fishman called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and a fitting tribute to the friendship they’ve created within the athletic programs.
“With Randy loving the people here, and the sports, I’m honored to be part of it myself,” she said.
The Fishmans, from Carmel, first connected with IU Kokomo when their son Matt became the assistant volleyball coach in 2016, and asked Randy to keep stats for the team. Athletic Director Greg Cooper found out about his role with the Pacers, and put him to work running the game clock for Cougar basketball, too.
“The setting here gives student athletes the opportunity to play the sport they love, and still get an education that says Indiana University,” he said, adding that it’s of the same quality as the main campus. “What’s unique here is that on a big campus, a volleyball or basketball player could never take on nursing as their curriculum. Here, they are able to do that.”
He’s known as “Papa Fish” to many student athletes, offering career advice, writing letters of recommendation, assisting with résumés, and helping them make connections with people he knows who can help them advance in their careers.
That type of giving is typical of her husband, Esther said, but he usually does it quietly.
“He’s very generous, but you don’t always know about it,” she said. “He is behind-the-scenes generous, which I love about him. He’s very loyal to whatever he does.”
That loyalty has also included his continuing work with the Pacers. He became a fan in the 1960s, when he earned free tickets for mowing for the general manager. He bought season tickets after graduating from IU, and became a member of the stats crew – a job he held for 35 years. He retired six years ago, around the time he was offered the position of game clock operator for the Pacers.
In a year, he works 41 Pacers games, 25 IU Kokomo basketball games, about 30 volleyball matches, and countless high school and college games.
Randy and Esther Fishman graduated from North Central High School, and then IU, in the same years, but did not meet until they were introduced by friends after they had graduated. They’ve been married 38 years and have two sons and three grandchildren.
The Fishmans’ gift is part of IU Kokomo’s $3 million Believe. Build. Belong. campaign, for the Student Activities and Events Center, scheduled for completion in fall 2020. The 23,500-gross square-foot center will serve students as a venue for meetings, campus events, and co-curricular activities, and also will be home to Cougar athletic teams.