At the March meeting of the Kokomo School Corporation Board of Trustees, Wildkat senior soccer and Unified Track standout Ashley Cone was recognized for being selected as a recipient of an Indiana Career and Technical Education Award of Excellence. In February, she was honored for her achievement at a ceremony in Indianapolis during National Career & Technical Education Month.

Kokomo Area Career Center health occupations teacher Beth Wetekamp talked about Cone’s success.

“Ashley has been an exemplary student; and based on her achievements, it is easy to see why she was recognized at the state level,” said Wetekamp. “We are so proud to have students of Ashley’s caliber at the Kokomo Area Career Center. Ashley has set the bar extremely high for future career center health occupation students.”

Indiana Award of Excellence recipients are selected by a committee of volunteers, who represent business, industry, state agencies, and education. Selection criteria includes scholarship, character, leadership, and career/technical skill proficiency

The captain of the Lady Kats soccer and Unified Track team is preparing for a career as a nurse practitioner by taking Health Science Academy classes at the KACC. As a senior, Cone is completing the Certified Nurse Assisting program, which Ashley believes will give her an advantage as she begins nursing classes at Indiana Wesleyan University.

During her high school career, Cone has been involved in several volunteer and leadership roles, including: President and leadership team member of the local HOSA Future Health Professionals chapter at the KACC, co-president of Student Council; co-vice president and treasurer of Girls’ League; and secretary of the National Honor Society at KHS. Cone has logged 212 volunteer hours and was named a United Way Volunteer of the Year in 2015.

Courtesy of the Kokomo School Corporation

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New Kokomo football head coach is seen calling defense for the Kats during the Class 5A state finals last November. (SJ photo/William Gibson)

KOKOMO, Ind. – When asked why he thought he was ready to be the head coach, newly-approved Kokomo High School varsity football coach Richard Benberry Jr., cited great teachers, such as Brett Colby at Kokomo and Jason West at Warren Central.

“Some great football coaches worked with me and took the time to share their experiences with me; and now, I can bring 17 years of knowledge to the football field,” Benberry explained. “For the returning players and coaches, this should be an easier transition. They know me, and my expectations. Coupled with what Coach Colby created during his 11 seasons, I hope to continue building on those Kokomo football traditions.”

At its regular monthly meeting on March 5, the Kokomo School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved Benberry as the new Kokomo varsity football head coach. Benberry, 39, and his wife Carolyn have two children: a daughter Chandler (6) and a son Carter (3).

Benberry has spent the past three football seasons as the Wildkats defensive coordinator. Coach Benberry still remembers that first serious football meeting with Colby.

“We sat down and Brett allowed me to sell him my defensive philosophy,” Benberry explained. “It took only one meeting, and that speaks volumes about Coach Colby. At the end of that session, Coach Colby stands up, shakes my hand and says: ‘I believe in you … Let’s go!’ That trust was huge, and it never wavered during our three seasons working together.”

KHS Athletic Director Jason Snyder is excited to have Benberry leading the Wildkats football program.

“Coach Benberry has been a major part of the recent success of our Kokomo football program, and his familiarity with the program is going to allow for a smooth transition for our players and coaches,” Snyder said. “We hope to continue building on the foundation Coach Colby has established, and we feel Coach Benberry can lead our football program to continued success.”

The other key piece of coaching knowledge that Benberry learned from Colby was: “relationships are important!”

“I learned that it was important to have a relationship with each and every player,” Benberry noted. “Those relationships must be with ALL players, and not just some players. The proof is in the pudding … look at Coach Colby’s record: seven NCC (North Central Conference) titles, three sectionals, two regionals, and a semi-state … those relationships and that success galvanized this community and I simply plan to continue that tradition.”

Before coming to Kokomo, Benberry spent the 2013 football season as the varsity defensive line coach helping his alma mater (class of 1996) Warren Central and head coach Jason West win the Class 6A state championship.

“With Coach West, everything had a family atmosphere – meetings, practice, games,” Benberry said. “I also learned that the game of football lasts for a few moments, but those relationships last a lifetime. Coach West also helped me understand organizational skills … in a program that big, you have to trust people to do their jobs. Since then, I have learned that is true no matter what the size of the program.”

Overall, Benberry has 17 years of experience in coaching football, including assistant offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Indianapolis Arsenal Tech in 2012; varsity safeties coach/junior varsity defensive coordinator at Guerin Catholic from 2009 to 2011; and varsity linebackers coach/junior varsity head coach at Lawrence North from 2003 to 2008.

“Those coaching experiences have made me a more well-rounded coach,” Benberry explained. “Coaching different skills areas allowed me to learn on the job. My coaches have been great teachers; but at the same time, they allowed me to learn by seeking my input. I even helped coach quarterbacks as I was asked to help them learn how to read defensive coverages.”

Benberry views his new position as varsity head football coach with a “hold the rope” mentality.

“Everyone has a job to do while holding the rope, but one person has to be in that anchor spot … I am that anchor with the rope tied around my waist,” Benberry said. “To win, we must pull as a team. If someone slips, I am the anchor while they regain their footing. But we – the players, the coaches, the school, the organization, the community – must pull together if we are going to continue building the football program and continue being successful.”

In order to focus on coaching and family, Benberry requested a non-administrative assignment at Kokomo High School for the 2018-2019 school year. The Board approved Benberry’s request as part of the football coaching recommendation. Benberry’s first regular season varsity game as head football coach will be at on August 7 at New Palestine.

Courtesy of the Kokomo School Corporation

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Stephanie Burns in action during the Class 3A state finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (SJ photo/Douglas Hockney)

KOKOMO, Ind. – After helping to lead the Northwestern Lady Tigers to the IHSAA Class 3A state championship, junior Stephanie Burns capped her sensational weekend by being named the IBCA/Subway Girls Player of the Week for District 2.

Burns totaled 17 points, eight rebounds, one steal and one block as the Northwestern girls (29-1) knocked off Greensburg 63-42 for the Class 3A title. The 6-1 center was a perfect 6-of-6 on field goals plus 5-of-7 on free throws in helping the Tigers claim their school’s first girls basketball championship.

Burns was also named the Sports Journal Player of the Game and Kokomo Tribune Athlete of the Week after the game.

The Lady Tigers book-ended the Player of the Week program for the 2017-2018 season. In week one, sophomore Madison Layden earned the award.

From the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association

Warren Central’s Shaila Beeler, Northwestern’s Stephanie Burns, Central Noble’s Sydney Freeman and Marquette Catholic’s Sophia Nolan – juniors all – helped her respective team to an IHSAA girls basketball state championship, and that quartet leads the honorees in this week’s IBCA/Subway Player of the Week program.

Southwood senior Carson Blair, Cloverdale senior Jalen Moore, Zionsville junior Isaiah Thompson, Center Grove junior Trayce Jackson-Davis and New Albany senior Romeo Langford share boys’ honors for Feb. 19-24 in the recognition program coordinated by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.

Blair, Freeman and Nolan are honorees for District 1. Moore, Thompson, Beeler and Burns are winners for District 2. Jackson-Davis and Langford are recipients in District 3.

This is the 10th season for the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Week program and the sixth season it is presented by Subway Restaurants of Indiana, a banner sponsor of the IBCA. Subway, in its seventh season as an IBCA sponsor, encourages athletes to “train hard and eat fresh.”

Player of the Week winners generally are chosen each week from each of the IHSAA’s three districts. The girls’ season is now complete. Boys’ winners will be chosen through the week following March 24.


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