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Indiana native, Florida teacher brings Hoosier hospitality to the Sunshine State

We ventured down to the Sunshine State to talk to Roger Raymond about love, music, basketball, and Hoosier hospitality.

ORLANDO, Fla. — As students are heading back to school, WTHR is honoring Hoosier teachers who go above and beyond. 

Roger Raymond grew up in Martinsville and spent the first part of his teaching career in Center Grove. But it’s when Roger and his wife Karen moved to Florida that their Indiana values truly shined through. We ventured down to the Sunshine State to talk to Roger about love, music, basketball, and Hoosier hospitality.

Roger was a multi-sport star at Mooresville High School. He was even named Mooresville's athlete of the year back in 1969. But it was while attending Ball State University that Roger’s life would change forever when he was struck with love at first sight, seeing his future wife Karen for the very first time. 

"She was singing on stage at Emens Auditorium with the Ball State University Singers, and I said, 'I really like her!' I didn't even know her, but I made my point to meet her," Roger said. "And that's kind of where it all started. That's where the music aspect of our lives came from."

Roger spent an entire summer practicing his trumpet so he could eventually be in a traveling road band with Karen. And his hard work paid off.

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“We went on the road (together) in 1981,” Roger said. “We played for the first President Bush twice at rallies. We traveled to 33 states, six countries.”

After college, Roger found himself splitting his time between music, teaching and sports.

“I was coaching basketball at Center Grove at the time.”

But after six years of coaching the Trojans, Roger, his wife Karen and their band buddies from Ball State got a really good offer from a talent agent to play music full time in Florida. 

“He said, ‘Do you want to go to Marco Island?’ I go, ‘Where’s Marco Island?! I’ve never heard of it,’” Roger said. 

Now, 35 years later, almost everyone on Marco Island has heard of Roger Raymond, but it’s not for his music. It’s because he quite literally introduced the students there to Indiana basketball. 

Credit: WTHR
Roger Raymond

“They wanted to start this charter middle school and have me help with the basketball program because I'm from Indiana," Roger said. "They said, 'You've got to do it.' I said, 'Look, I stopped coaching. I'm doing some different things.' They kept talking and talking and finally I said I would do it if we do it my way. We're not going to scream and yell at referees. We're going to keep our fans at bay. And we're going to try to make this a good experience for everybody."

In other words: Hoosier hoops hysteria with Hoosier hospitality. 

So how much did Roger's Hoosier roots help him as a coach in Florida?

"Immensely, from a fundamental standpoint," Roger said. "We learned fundamentals when I was a young, young player. When I came to Florida, the first thing I noticed wasn't the difference in athleticism, it was the difference in fundamental ability. You don't know what a passing lane is? What a jump stop is? It's just those things that come natural in Indiana."

Roger changed all of that by bringing a new level of basketball coaching to the area.

"I brought what I considered important, and I think they probably would be considered Hoosier values," Roger said. "I believe in working hard. I also believe in helping kids learn why they're working hard and not just getting on to them because they did something wrong or didn't work hard enough." 

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And when Roger's undefeated Marco Island team started to get a little full of themselves with all their success, he put them on a bus, drove them up to Indiana and showed them what real basketball was all about.

"Our kids were 16-0 in Florida, and they lost all the games in Indiana," Roger said. "I said, 'You're going learn about basketball!'"

After 35 years in Marco Island, Roger and Karen moved to Orlando a few years ago to be near their two daughters: Jessica, who’s a schoolteacher, and Jennifer, who’s a singer and plays Dory in “Finding Nemo: The Musical” at Disney World. 

But Roger couldn’t stay retired. In fact, he just won the “Coach of the Year” Award at Lake Buena Vista High School as the track & field coach. But he gives all his credit to his assistant coach, his wife Karen. 

"My wife, she was my assistant in cross country and track," Roger said. "So from a life experience (standpoint), it couldn't be better. We're together." 

And how long have they been together now?

"We'll be married 50 years on the 2nd of December this year," Roger said.

Making beautiful music together, through sports and Hoosier values. 

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