INDIANAPOLIS – Emerson Kampen has waited a long time for the opportunity to serve as an assistant coach for the Butler University men's basketball team after working as the program's basketball analyst over the past two seasons. But when the Bulldogs open play Friday for their four-game, 10-day trip to Spain, Kampen will be 4,000-plus miles away – and with good reason.
As the Butler basketball party embarks on its journey this morning, Kampen will remain behind due to his wife, Kylie, and he awaiting the birth of their second child.
“There is a time and place for basketball,” Kampen told The News-Sentinel, “and there is a time and place for family. If we were talking about the national championship, maybe we'd be talking differently. But this is a Spain trip in August.”
The birth of a child is precious for every parent, but for the Kampen's the anticipated birth of their daughter is even more so.
Two summers ago, Emerson and Kylie gave birth to a son, Emerson Kampen IV, who held their hearts for nearly eight months before tragically passing away from Leigh syndrome, a neurological disorder that typically appears within the first year of life. Given the circumstances, the Kampen's had some mixed emotions upon learning of this pregnancy.
“There have been ups and downs with this whole process,” Kampen said. “You realize that life is a miracle and having a healthy child is not just as easy as you grew up thinking that it was.”
The Kampen's were understandably concerned about this child, considering the fact that Leigh syndrome is a genetic disease. However, all tests throughout Kylie's pregnancy have come back positive and the physicians foresee no problems.
“There has been anxiety,” Kampen said. “There has been nervousness. But everything that the doctors have told us (the baby) is 100 percent healthy.”
Kylie found the name “Kallen” for their girl, which Emerson enthusiastically endorsed.
“Happy wife, happy life,” Emerson exclaimed. “But I actually like it too.”
Kallen is certainly a beautiful and unique name, but the Kampen's are taking the significance of naming their daughter a step further.
Emerson IV was called “Em” by his family, so Kallen's middle name will honor her late older brother with Em serving as her middle name.
Kallen is scheduled to make an appearance Aug. 16, but Emerson IV came at 35 weeks and Kylie and Kallen have already reached 38 weeks.
“I think that it is getting pretty close,” Kampen said.
This trip is a vital one for the Butler basketball program, which has seven players on the 2017-18 roster that have never played a second in a game for the Bulldogs, as well as an entirely new coaching staff aside from Kampen and coordinator of basketball operations Brandon Crone. However, recently hired head coach LaVall Jordan didn't question Kampen's decision to skip the trip.
“(Coach Jordan) was great and understanding,” Kampen said. “He's a family man (Jordan and his wife, Destinee, have three daughters). He understands the difficulty that my wife and I have gone through.”
The Bulldogs will open play Friday against the Madrid Generals, before playing Sunday (vs. Albacete), Tuesday (vs. Valencia All-Stars), and wrapping up the trip Aug. 10 against Union Basket Dax Gamarde.
“As much as I hate missing the trip,” Kampen said, “I think that it is a great opportunity for our guys to get to know (the coaches) and everything, but it will be good to be with Kylie.”
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