Robin Loheide Sweany didn’t take an immediate liking to Eastern Michigan University.
As she rode with her parents into Ypsilanti, Michigan, in August 1989, the Columbus North graduate was a little hesitant about spending the next four years there. As soon as they got close to campus, she said, “I hate it here. I do not want to go here,” said her father, Steve Loheide.
“She did not want to be that far from home,” he said. “She didn’t know anybody there. But it worked out.”
It certainly did. Loheide Sweany became one of the top gymnasts in Eagles history.
Friday night, she will be one of eight athletes inducted into the EMU’s E-Club Athletic Hall of Fame.
“It definitely is a big honor,” she said. “I kind of don’t have words for it. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m excited that my coaches are coming and my family is coming. They were a very big part of that.”
They were also a part of encouraging Loheide Sweany to stay at EMU. Ball State was the only other school that recruited her.
Going from Columbus to Eastern Michigan was a challenge.
“I was pretty introverted as a kid,” Loheide Sweany said. “They had a little softball game for us to meet, and it was just hard for me to do something do like that. I was a big fish in a small pond, and going to a larger pond, I was a little intimidated. But I’m a competitive-type of person, so I really liked the challenge. It was a good move for me.”
At EMU, she finished second in the all-around at the Mid-American Conference as a junior. Her senior year, she won the all-around (38.8), beam (9.7) and floor (9.675).
Loheide Sweany was named MAC Senior of the Year in 1993 and became the conference’s first gymnast to qualify for the NCAA Finals. She set EMU records on the vault (9.8), bars (9.8), floor (9.9) and all-around (38.8).
“She was very, very good,” former EMU coach Steve Wilce said. “She had a really good first three years, and then her senior year was absolutely dominant. She did put a lot of work into it.”
Wilce first met Loheide Sweany in 1982 when she was 11 or 12 years old. He had taken a job at Columbus Gymnastics Center and was there about a month before landing the EMU job.
Even then, Wilce realized she was an aggressive gymnast.
“There was just a real flair to her,” Wilce said. “She was a dynamic performer. Especially here senior year (in college), there was just a confidence level that she knew she was good that year. The first couple years, it was just finding out how good she was.”
Loheide Sweany is one of the most decorated high school gymnasts in Indiana history. Her six state event championships are tied for fourth most all time, and she is one of eight girls to win a pair of all-around titles.
The first of those all-around victories came as a freshman in 1986. On May 5 of that year, she was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” section.
Loheide Sweany went on to win her second all-around title as a junior. She won the Mildred Ball Mental Attitude Award her senior year.
After she graduated, Loheide Sweany would come back and help choreograph North’s floor routines, including those of coach Sandy Freshour’s daughter, Whitney.
“She was my daughter’s idol,” Freshour said. “Robin was such a phenomenal choreographer. She’s a super fun person, so charismatic and so talented, and a great person for the sport of gymnastics. She was ahead of the pack as far as skill level early on.”
Loheide Sweany earned a B.S. in nursing from EMU. She spent five years as a teacher’s aide in Fishers, where she now lives with her family, and picked up a teaching license of certification from Butler.
Last month, she began teaching special education at Spring Mill Elementary in Washington Township in Indianapolis.
“I fell in love with special ed and decided I wanted to become a special ed teacher myself,” she said.
Name: Robin Loheide Sweany
High school: Columbus North
College: Eastern Michigan
Occupation: Special education teacher at Spring Mill Elementary in Washington Township (Indianapolis)
Family: Husband Brian, daughter Sophie, sons Jack and Connor