DEAN’S LIST: KOKOMO JACKRABBITS COULD JUST BE THE START OF MKE ENTERTAINMENT IN KOKOMO

Get Jacked 1

THE DEAN’S LIST

By Dean Hockney, Sports Journal Publisher

The Kokomo Jackrabbits.

When I first heard the name of the new Prospect League baseball team that will play at Kokomo Municipal Stadium next summer, I had mixed emotions. The biggest question being: What does a Jackrabbit have to do with Kokomo? But when I put together the fact the team is named after the Apperson Jack Rabbit automobile from the early 1900s, I knew MKE Sports & Entertainment had, as they say in baseball, hit it out of the park.

“I love it,” said MKE owner Mike Zimmerman of the Jackrabbits name. “And it is a natural fit with the heritage. I think it is perfect.”

The Kokomo Jackrabbits have a chance to be something special in Kokomo – and not just on the baseball diamond. The MKE ownership group is an award-winning organization that has turned heads in the Milwaukee area. They are known not just for baseball, but for putting on some of the top attractions in the area – such as The Rock Bike Park, which won an award as the best bike parks in the Midwest in 2013. Could the same thing happen in Kokomo?

MKE is also huge in the world of soccer. The Milwaukee Wave is the longest running professional soccer franchise in the United States, playing in the MISL. Soccer is growing by leaps and bounds in central Indiana. This year, three Howard County teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen round in the IHSAA tournament. And don’t forget, the 30-plus field Wildcat Creek Soccer Complex is currently being built, so soccer has a bright future in the area. Could you imagine if Zimmerman and his team got involved in promoting soccer in the area?

MKE also runs Rock League Baseball in the Milwaukee area. The Rock Sports Complex is considered a top-tier baseball facility with six diamonds – all replica models of major league parks. They had 15,000 fans and athletes visit the complex in 2014. Could something like this happen in Kokomo? Who knows? But as Mayor Greg Goodnight and city officials to team up with Mike Zimmerman and his organization, I think the sky is the limit.

Did you know Kokomo’s new baseball stadium is built specifically so a regulation sized soccer field can fit inside? Maybe the Indy Eleven could play an exhibition game or two here. There has been talk of Kokomo Municipal Stadium hosting concerts, fast pitch softball, youth sports camps and even a winter skating rink. Zimmerman is the first to admit that nine months ago, he had no idea MKE Sports & Entertainment would venture into the Midwest sports market.

“This is a natural fit,” said Zimmerman. “This is a perfect storm with a brand new stadium. Who knows what will happen.”

In the end, this could just be a baseball team that comes to Kokomo and slowly dies, but I doubt it. With MKE and its strong resume of success – it operates the No. 1 haunted attraction in Milwaukee – the Kokomo Jackrabbits could just be the start of a long relationship that becomes an economic boon to Howard County.

Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.

Dean Hockney is the publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana and sports editor of the Kokomo Herald. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and game reports.

 

 

KOKOMO JACKRABBITS ARRIVE IN CITY OF FIRSTS

Kokomo Jackrabbits 1

For more on the Kokomo Jackrabbits, see Dean Hockney’s story and editorial in the Oct. 21 edition of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana.

Kokomo is no longer the team-to-be-named-later. On Monday afternoon, MKE Sports & Entertainment revealed the much anticipated name and logo of the new Prospect League baseball team playing at Kokomo Municipal Stadium: the Kokomo Jackrabbits. Just under 1,000 entries were submitted for the Name the Team contest at KokomoBaseball.com. Of those entries, 15 people chose the Jackrabbits name and one winner was randomly drawn for the $2,500 grand prize.

“The Kokomo Jackrabbits playing Prospect League baseball enhances Kokomo’s identity throughout the state and Midwest,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “The name Jackrabbits is a tribute to our automotive heritage, and the team and stadium are part of Kokomo’s aim to attract people to fuel the future of our city.”

Other fans who submitted the winning entry at KokomoBaseball.com will receive a Kokomo Jackrabbits prize package, which includes tickets to the home opener and closer at Kokomo Municipal Stadium, an exclusive stadium tour, merchandise and more.

Judges chose the Jackrabbits name because of its historical importance to the city. The Apperson was a brand of automobile manufactured from 1901 to 1926 in Kokomo, Indiana. The Apperson Jack Rabbit was introduced in 1907. It was a 2-passenger roadster, equipped with a four cylinder 60 or 96 horsepower engine. Features included a four-speed transmission, 34-inch wheels and tires, Hess-Bright ignition systems and a 20-gallon round gas tank. It had a guaranteed top speed of 75 miles per hour.

MKE Owner Mike Zimmerman also introduced Greg Van Horn as field manager of the Kokomo Jackrabbits. Van Horn is currently assistant baseball coach at Princeton University. Last summer, he served as assistant coach of the Prospect League’s Chillicothe Paints and was the shortstop on the Paints 2010 squad that won the Prospect League championship for the first time and was ranked second in the nation among college summer league teams.

“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and am excited to be a part of bringing high level baseball back to the Kokomo community,” said Van Horn. “We are committed to putting the best possible product on the field so that our fans can enjoy a winning experience from the very beginning. I can’t wait to get going.”

Zimmerman said he is excited about bringing a summer baseball team to the City of Firsts.

“This is another big day for the city of Kokomo and its new baseball club – the Kokomo Jackrabbits,” said Zimmerman. “The new brand is strong and will certainly be a big success for merchandise sales. Our new field manager, Greg Van Horn is an up and comer and we are excited to have him lead our team”.

Ticket information and updates for the inaugural Kokomo Jackrabbits season can be found on the team’s website at KokomoJackrabbits.com, along with a Kokomo Municipal Stadium Seating Chart. Follow and friend us socially on Facebook and Twitter for further developments.

Courtesy of the Kokomo Jackrabbits and City of Kokomo

KOKOMO, EASTERN, NORTHWESTERN ALL GARNER BOYS SOCCER SECTIONAL HARDWARE

IHSAA

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - Kokomo High School has a long history of winning tournament games in IHSAA competition. For example, the boys basketball team holds the state record with 74 sectional championships, and the Wildkat program has more than 300 sectional titles overall. And while the boys soccer program is a recent addition – the first IHSAA state champion was not crowned until 1994 – only once has a Wildkat team hoisted a sectional championship trophy, and that was in 2005. But last Saturday evening at the IHSAA Class 2A Kokomo Boys Soccer Sectional championship game, the Wildkats doubled that number after a thrilling 3-1 title game win over Logansport.

Keagan James, who had five goals in the sectional opening win over Western, scored all three against Logansport to finish with nine in three games. Against the Berries, the sophomore scored early in the first half, then found the net in the 61st and 78th minutes to seal the title for the Kats.

Kokomo (13-6) advances to play Jay County (7-8-1) in the Kokomo Regional on Thursday at 5 p.m. No. 10 Fishers (10-2-4) and No. 20 Harrison (17-1-2) square-off in the second game with the championship on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Class 1A Oak Hill Boys Soccer Sectional

While Kokomo won its second title, the Eastern Comets celebrated the school’s first boys soccer sectional championship with a 1-0 win over the three-time defending champion Golden Eagles of Oak Hill. Ben Cole hit the back of the net midway through the first half and the defense did the rest to preserve the victory. Aaron Wyant posted the shutout in goal.

Eastern (14-2-2) advances to play Delphi (7-9-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Peru Regional. Argos (15-3-1) and Peru (12-5-1) meet in the 5:30 p.m. opener with the championship game scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m.

Class 1A Northwestern Boys Soccer Sectional

Four-peat! The No. 6-ranked Northwestern Tigers took care of business and defeated Rossville 7-0 to claim its fourth consecutive sectional championship and eighth overall. Blaine Brutus led the Tigers attack with three goals and an assist, Jacob Wagner had two goals, Collen Hodson had a goal and an assist, Jesse Murdock had a goal and Austin Nolder added an assist.

Northwestern outscored the competition 17-0 in sectional action. Evan LaDow posted the shutout in the championship game with one save.

Northwestern (16-3-1) advances to play Crawfordsville (7-9-1) at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Tipton Regional. Defending state champion and top-ranked Guerin Catholic (17-2) and No. 19 Hamilton Heights (13-5) play the 5 p.m. game with the championship slated for Saturday at 6 p.m.