Seymour native to serve as DJ for IU sports

Iman Tucker has done some pregame and in-game DJing for the Indiana Pacers.

The NCAA and Indiana Fever also elevated him to a game-day disc jockey, and he has worked at some Indianapolis Colts events.

Before he knew it, the Seymour native said he was playing on behalf of the biggest sporting organizations in Indianapolis, which is close to where he now calls home, Carmel.

About two years ago, he had inquired about being a game-day DJ for Indiana University. The conversation started through friendship with Ali Patberg, a native of Columbus who played on the IU women’s basketball team at the time.

“Ali and I discussed IU, her experience and the culture of IU athletics,” Tucker said. “I had been following the women’s team in their ascendance to where they are now. I had attended some of the games, knew some of the athletes had similar taste in music with the artists we had been performing with prior. It just felt like a good fit and my play style would benefit the great momentum they were garnering down in Bloomington.”

Tucker said that was more of a “wouldn’t it be cool if” type of conversation.

“Then it evolved into something that we thought might actually make sense as the season started with no fans allowed in Assembly (Hall),” he said, referring to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“During the pandemic when sporting venues were at limited capacity, essentially zero, our team in Indianapolis wanted to brainstorm on how our DJ presentation could benefit student-athletes that were subject to competing without fans,” he said. “For us, we thought it would be a low-risk entry point for a large organization like an IU to take a chance to see if we were fit for the job when life gets back to normal.”

He recorded a 5-minute mix and sent it to Patberg, she shared it with IU’s marketing staff and that opened up the first conversation.

The timing, however, was just not great for IU specifically. The Bloomington university was navigating through a lot of adjustments like everyone else during the pandemic.

Tucker tabled the thought, and at the beginning of the 2021-22 season, he shot a note back to the university.

“It felt like we all really wanted to work, but again, the timing was just tough,” he said.

Once he started getting opportunities from sports organizations in Indianapolis, though, Tucker said what once felt like a “what if” with IU started to feel a bit more realistic.

When IU decided to move forward with an in-game DJ, officials reached out to Tucker this time around. They were looking for a game-day DJ to fulfill football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.

“As we looked at the scope of everything, we realized that is a huge burden for one DJ to fulfill alone, so IU went a different route and split the football/men’s basketball from women’s basketball,” he said.

Tucker interviewed with the marketing team, and a few weeks later, he was told the women’s basketball program had specifically requested him, so was going to be given that assignment for the 2022-23 season and fill in when necessary for football and men’s basketball.

“It caught me off guard,” he said of opening his email and seeing Indiana Athletics at the top. “I opened it up and had a brief moment of awe celebrating that it finally was happening but immediately had to get back to focus and make sure I did my part to represent our offerings appropriately and lock in the deal.”

He said it meant a lot to him considering how long he had been in contact with IU to try and make it happen.

“I thought about how this was a unique opportunity to play closer to Seymour and invite all of my former hometown connections to support a program that has deep roots within Jackson County,” he said, as Seymour native Teri Moren is the IU women’s basketball head coach.

“From the outside looking in, it has always been easy to want to support her program because the people I love back at home love her and their team,” he said. “Then you add the additional layer of a fellow Seymour Owl, someone who has paid their dues to this great state. I hope that one day, my reputation can be a fraction of hers and the impact she has had on so many throughout her life already.”

Tucker said he is thankful for the opportunity and thankful that so many believed in him and that he has an opportunity to serve a fan base that has poured so much support into its university.

“With all of the tradition that is held so close to the hearts of Hoosiers, my hope is that I can bring an additional layer of entertainment and innovation to such a historic gymnasium and storied university,” he said. “I hope to use my energy and spirit and connect strangers and put smiles on faces. Whether veteran supporters or students new to the success of the program, above all, I want to bring a positive energy to the atmosphere.”

Moren will begin her ninth season in 2022-23. She has taken the program to new levels with four NCAA Tournament appearances, including back-to-back Sweet Sixteens and an Elite Eight appearance along with seven consecutive 20-win seasons.

“I’m excited to get to know the fans closely over the season. I’m excited to understand more about what they love as far as the entertainment aspect of the games and what they think could be better,” Tucker said.

“The game itself is obviously the reason why we are all there, so as the DJ, I want to be sure to complement the experience, not take away from it,” he said. “I can’t wait to get into the city, interact with the fans and really get to know what makes someone a true Indiana Hoosier.”

Tucker said his job is to create an interactive musical experience with his turntables — one that would make two strangers sing along together to their favorite songs in a way they’ve never heard remixed before.

He’s now working on his craft to be ready to do just that.

“If you’ve ever seen me play out before, it’s a high-energy, highly technical production as is,” he said. “But then you add in the large stadium, excited fans and the logistical flow of the game production, it adds another layer of complexity. So above all, I want to make sure I am ready to give the fans something they love and something that can get the players locked in.”

Since Bloomington has something special with its sports teams and university and cares about winning, its fans and the experience, Tucker is excited to get to be a part of it.

“This is something I really care about,” he said. “I love traveling and I love performing across the country, but being home and sharing this experience with Hoosiers means a lot to me. I really think this is something that everyone will enjoy, and it would mean a lot to me to see everyone come out and support this awesome team while I curate the energy with music.”

Tucker also is excited because everything he has been involved with — Pacers, Colts, local Indianapolis parties and work at his alma mater, University of Indianapolis — will continue.

“It’s important that we keep the brand versatile and relevant in areas outside of sports,” he said. “Yes, with the new responsibilities of giving IU our best, we will have to be intentional moving forward with scheduling and travel outside of Indiana, but it’s a challenge we are excited to take on. Hopefully, we can host some postgame events down in Bloomington to really connect with the city. We are excited to give the IU community something to remember.”