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Bill Knauss is just one of Hillsdale College’s bus drivers, but in a lot of ways, he’s become more than that.

“I just hear him in the stands cheering for us,” said senior Ashlee Crowder, outside hitter on the vol­leyball team. “He’s just this sweet old man, always being sup­portive.”

Knauss’ first driving assignment was the vol­leyball team. Ever since, Knuass has been a loyal fan. He watches all the local games and travels to away games when the girls take charter buses. Crowder said she was par­tic­u­larly sur­prised when he drove himself sep­a­rately to their game in the Upper Peninsula.

“I wanted to go to the cham­pi­onship in Cal­i­fornia so bad, but they flew,” Knauss said.

He never watched college vol­leyball before becoming the Hillsdale bus driver.

“I don’t under­stand all the rules yet, but I like vol­leyball,” Knauss said. “We’ve got some good girls here that can hit that ball some­thing ter­rible, and then they will get a girl in the face and knock them right over.”

Knauss’ first trip was to northern Alabama in 2004. He did not expect many fans to come, but all the girls’ fam­ilies were there. He said he enjoys getting to know the parents and coaches as well.

He said he also likes watching the swim team and cheers them on best he can.

“With the swim team, it is hard to know who’s swimming,” Knauss said. “You cannot tell who is who once they get their bonnets on.”

But the junior Sami Ward, a mid-dis­tance swimmer, said the team still appre­ciates his support.

“We all love him,” Ward said. “He always watches our meets and cheers for us.”

The bus trips are lively times for Knauss too, as young, spirited college ath­letes sur­round him.

“The girls sing, laugh, talk to me — they’re great,” he said.

“He just loves driving us, and I don’t know why because we are so loud,” said Crowder, jok­ingly.

Knauss always plays the country radio station on the bus unless the girls put in a movie.

“He likes the movies we watch,” Ward said. “Some­times we catch him watching them when we come back to the bus.”

On his trips, people fre­quently approach Knauss rec­og­nizing the Hillsdale College name on the side of the bus.

“Wherever I go, somebody knows Hillsdale College,” he said. “People come up to me and say ‘I grad­uated from Hillsdale’ or ‘I get the Imprimis.’ It’s sur­prising to see how many people know this little college.”

Knauss has lived in Reading, Mich., with his wife, a native Michi­gander, for the past 30 years. He has three married children and six grand­children.

Before being employed by the college, Knauss worked in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff and as a prison guard and trans­portation officer for the Michigan Department of Cor­rection.

He retired from law enforcement in December of 2000 and saw an adver­tisement in the news­paper for a position in security at Hillsdale in May 2001. Knauss worked part-time writing parking tickets until 2004, when Hillsdale bought its first bus. Having a bus license and pre­vious expe­rience driving school buses, Knauss took on the role of Hillsdale College’s bus driver.

Knauss’ far­thest trip was to Florida several years ago when he drove the men’s bas­ketball team for their tour­nament games between Christmas and New Year’s.

He hopes to con­tinue driving the Hillsdale College Chargers to their future games, and all the while sup­porting them.

“I will drive for a few more years,” Knauss said. “It all depends on my age and health. I’m getting up there.”

As for the Hillsdale Chargers, they appre­ciate their bus driver.

“I think he is really funny,” Ward said. “He’s my favorite bus driver.”