Archive for April 30, 2013

GAUGER GARNERS GARLAND

Kokomo graduate Mitchell Gauger (right) with his IUPUI Garland Award.

Kokomo graduate Mitchell Gauger (right) with his IUPUI Garland Award.

INDIANAPOLIS - IUPUI men’s diver Mitchell Gauger, women’s swimmer Elizabeth Bourgeois and women’s basketball player Kerah Nelson have been named the 2012-13 IUPUI Melvyn Garland Distinguished Student-Athlete award winners as the athletic department announced its major award winners on Apr. 26. Additionally, women’s cross country’s Kaci Verkamp earned the Dorothy Cheesman Award and men's swimmer Josh Davis was named the Jaguars Athletics Club Academic Achievement Award winner.

All of the honorees were recognized at the annual Senior Dinner, held at the NCAA Conference Center.

The Mel Garland Awards are the highest single honors given to a male and female senior student-athlete. The winners are chosen based primarily on athletic achievement, while also considering scholarship, mental attitude, leadership and perseverance. The award is named after the former IUPUI Athletics Director/Basketball Coach who died of leukemia in 1983.

Gauger, a Kokomo High School graduate, recently capped off a four-year career with the men’s swimming and diving program by earning Diver of the Championships at the 2013 Summit League Swimming and Diving Championships. In his four seasons, he was a four-time All-Summit League selection – twice in the one-meter dive and twice in the 3-meter dive. Twice in his career, Gauger also advanced to NCAA Zone C Championships, and he ranks sixth in IUPUI history in the one-meter dive with a score of 320.62.

This past spring, Gauger was chosen among IUPUI’s Top 100 students and ultimately named among the university’s Top 10 Males at the 14th annual Top 100 Dinner. At Kokomo, he was a second team all-state performer and a medalist at the 2009 IHSAA diving state finals. Gauger, a business management major, is the son of Gary and Lisa Gauger.

A four-time All-Summit League selection, Nelson finished off her four-year career by leading the women’s basketball team to its first-ever postseason appearance in its Division-I era when it competed in the WNIT back in March. An All-Summit League Tournament selection as a senior, Nelson tallied 1,614 career points to make her the program’s all-time Division-I era leading scorer, and finished her career ranked among the Top 10 in IUPUI history in rebounding, field goals made and free throws made. En route to earning first-team all-league honors as a junior – the first of two straight first-team selections – Nelson scored a program-record Division-I era record 518 points and her 16.2 ppg was the highest single-season scoring average since the 2002-03 campaign.

As a senior, Bourgeois helped lead the women’s swimming and diving team to a second-place finish, its best since the 2005-06 season. At the most recent conference championships, Bourgeois was the runner-up in the 100 fly with a new school-record time of 54.63, in addition to finishing third in the 100 free and fourth in the 50 free. Her 100 free time of 51.23 and her 50 time of 23.65 were also new school records. The Cincinnati, Ohio-native finished her career with four individual school records and was part of four relay school records. Additionally, her personal-best times in the 50 free and the 100 fly also rank in the Top 10 in Summit League history. Academically, Bourgeois was named IUPUI's Most Outstanding Female Student at the 14th annual IUPUI Top 100, becoming the third IUPUI student-athlete to be named Most Outstanding Student, joining Carrie Lightfoot (2000) and Tiffany Kyser (2002, 2003).

Verkamp was honored with the Dorothy Cheesman Award as the top female academic achiever in this year’s graduating class. A native of St. Anthony, Ind, Verkamp has maintained a 3.97 GPA while majoring in Exercise Science in the School of Physical Education & Tourism Management. Verkamp has been on IUPUI’s Academic Advisor’s List every semester of her college career and been on the Summit League’s Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence twice. Additionally, she was voted Academic All-Summit League this past season in cross country and been recognized among IUPUI’s Top 100 students each of the past two years.

Davis was honored with the Jaguars Athletics Club Academic Achievement Award as the top male academic achiever in this year's graduating class. The Valparaiso, Ind.-native boasts a 3.94 GPA, majoring in chemistry within the School of Science. Davis has been named to IUPUI’s Academic Advisor’s List every semester of his college career and has twice been named to The Summit League Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence.

(Story courtesy of IUPUI)

MYLES GEARY STEPS DOWN AS RECORD-SETTING LADY KATS SOCCER COACH

Myles Geary steps down from Lady Kats soccer program after record 183 wins and eight sectional titles.

Myles Geary steps down from Lady Kats soccer program after record 183 wins and eight sectional titles.

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - It is rare when coaches go out on top of their game. But Kokomo High School girls soccer coach Myles Geary has 15 consecutive non-losing seasons; so, he had no choice but to go out on top once he made one of the toughest decisions of his life – leaving the program that he took from infancy to an NCC respected power.

“This was a very tough decision – one of my toughest ever. But the time commitment is simply too much,” said Geary, who recently accepted the sports sales manager position with the Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau. “To be successful it needs to be an eight or nine month commitment, and that is really hard to do right now. My family has been great in dealing with soccer, but it is time for me to put back into them. As a father I have to reassess what is important to me. And the new job will keep me busy but will also keep me in the sports world.”

With a record of 183-103-6 (.627 winning percentage), Geary leaves the Lady Wildkats as the most successful coach in the program’s history. But in 1996, the program was young, unsuccessful and Geary was completing his third season at Western high school as an assistant boys soccer coach. But then KHS Athletic Director Jim Callane decided to take a chance on the 1989 Kokomo graduate. And what a choice that turned out to be. After a 5-11-2 record in his inaugural campaign of 1997, the program never again dipped below .500 under his watch. By his third season, Geary had the Lady Kats hoisting an IHSAA sectional championship trophy as the team tallied a 15-4 record.

“His knowledge of soccer, his ability to relate to kids and his enjoyment and being with student-athletes led to me hiring him,” said Callane while noting that Geary did not play high school soccer because it was only a club sport in 1988. “His enthusiasm and knowledge really closed the deal. Early on, we were just starting out and soccer was catching on, but high school coaches were hard to find because of the infancy of the program – so you really had to look for former players. Myles learned to play soccer in (Dallas) and when he was in the military. He just knew the game.”

According to Callane, the Wildkats started a soccer program in the late 1980’s as a recreational co-ed club sport. The IHSAA did not sanction soccer until 1994 and the North Central Conference followed suit in 1998. Geary took over a girls team that finished 1-15 and was outscored 120-11.

“When we went to boys and girls sports, Myles came in early and did a great job for us at Kokomo High School,” said Callane. “He brought our program to a level that was competitive in our conference and the IHSAA tournament. He made it fun for the kids. He was smart enough to recognize kids who were good athletes and got them involved. He was good at spotting those kids and recruiting them to the soccer program.”

During Geary’s 16 seasons of patrolling the Red and Blue sideline, the Lady Kats won eight sectional championships and one regional title in 2002. They also won five North Central Conference crowns and a prestigious Hoosier Cup division championship last season. The eight sectional and five NCC championships are both conference records. His eight sectional trophies account for nearly 12-percent of all Wildkat girls sectional championships in all sports.

In addition, Geary has coached an Indiana All-State First Team performer (Hillary Beck) and three All-State Second Team players (Whitney Beck, Samantha Bledsoe and Betsy Bixler). In addition, Sarah Schwartz, Jessica Carney, Casey Connor, Anne Thatcher, Whitney Farris, Becca Wade, Bre Kinder, Kristen Clason and Mary Lang were All-State Honorable Mention performers and more than 50 student-athletes were named to the all-North Central Conference teams.

“I really wanted to see what I could do at Kokomo,” said Geary of his 16 years at his alma mater. He is currently the second longest tenured coach at KHS behind distance running coach Ricke Stucker. “But I thought I might want to try my hand at the next level, and I had some really good offers from some big schools in Indianapolis. But when the thought of leaving the program, I just couldn’t do it. My goal was to stay five years and move up – but I bleed red and blue; it runs through my veins.”

Geary said he thanks the Kokomo administration – from Callane to Mike Wade to current Athletic Director Jason Snyder – for the support and what they have done for the Lady Kat soccer program. He said there are not many high schools that have tournament ready facilities like Kokomo’s two lighted playing fields and two practice fields. He said the Wildkat soccer complex is an envy of the Hoosier state.

“We went from practicing in basically a corn field and playing at the old downtown Kautz football field – which wasn’t wide enough or long enough (for a regulation high school soccer field) – to Jim Callane’s initiative of building a soccer complex,” said Geary. “It is a premier high school complex in the state. And I constantly told that to the girls – we were spoiled.”

The soccer buff said he enjoyed his 16 years of coaching the Lady Kats, and was thrilled to be on the early side of the program’s growth into a perennial conference and sectional contender.

“I got to see a lot of growth in the program and I was proud to have been a small part of it,” he said. “We had a soft schedule when we started, and so we weren’t prepared when we got to sectionals. So we took off some guaranteed victories and put in some almost guaranteed losses against state powers. One year, we had seven top 25 teams on our schedule, but we sure were ready when conference and sectionals came up. We became competitors.”

Snyder said replacing Geary will be difficult, not only because of his longevity in the program, but his knowledge of the game itself.

“You know, one thing we will miss is his working with the younger kids and being able to get them involved,” said Snyder, noting that the middle schools now have a soccer team due in part to Geary’s insistence. “The girls soccer team always got off the fall sports season to a good start. They were always competitive under Myles. For years, he has put a ton of time in and sacrificed a lot for these student-athletes. He demands a lot but truly cares for them – you can tell because they keep coming back and wanting to be involved in the program.”

To say Geary will be missed at Kokomo High School is a vast understatement. Sure, he can be replaced, but losing a coach with his winning credentials will be hard shoes to fill. Myles Geary may have arrived as an unheralded coach, but he leaves as the best soccer coach the school has ever seen.

DEAN’S LIST: PRO GOLF NEEDS RULES UPDATES

THE DEAN'S LIST BY DEAN HOCKNEY

SPORTS JOURNAL PUBLISHER

Like millions of other Americans, I was caught up in the Masters Golf Tournament, played every April in beautiful Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. I watched with great interest as 14 year-old Tianlang Guan of China became the youngest golfer to ever play at The Masters, and I was excited to see if Tiger Woods would be able to grab his 15th major golf victory. What I wasn’t expecting was controversy from both of these players.

First, Guan was given a one-stroke penalty for slow play on hole No. 17 during his second round. Yes, the penalty was warranted because he had already been warned about the 40-second clock (yes, basketball and football aren’t the only sports with play clocks). But this was the first slow play penalty assessed in a major since 2004, and you just feel sorry for the young man.

Incidentally, he made the cut and was crowned the low amateur at the end of the Masters telecast. And if you watched any of his interviews, he is a well spoken, polite young man who accepted the penalty with grace.

Then there is Tiger and his now legendary two-shot penalty. For those who missed it, on Friday he hit a great shot that hit the 15th pin and bounced back into the water hazard. Woods had three legal options, but he dropped his ball two yards behind the original shot – a fourth option that was illegal by golf rules. He didn’t catch the mistake and neither did rules officials. But an eagle eyed home viewer did – and this is where I have a problem.

1. How can a major sport allow viewers at home to call in and report an error by a participant? The PGA admits it listens to fans and takes phone calls. For one, this is not fair to the elite players because they get almost every shot broadcast on national television while other players do not.

Second, fans have no business officiating a professional sporting event. Can you imagine what would happen if Roger Goodell fielded phone calls during NFL games – and then acted upon them? It would be chaos and simply not fair to those playing the game.

2. How can a ruling be made and then reversed the next day based on a post-game interview by a participant? The PGA said they reviewed the drop by Woods and deemed it acceptable. So how in the world can they change their minds the next day? Apparently, they listened to Woods’ post-round interview and didn’t like what he said. They summoned him to the office the next morning and, after talking to him, assessed the penalty.

Can you imagine what would happen in baseball if, during the locker room interviews, someone said, “I was really safe, he missed the tag” and the commissioner of baseball reversed the call the next day? Or a player admitted missing first base on a game-winning double, something no one caught until the commissioner reviewed the tape and overturned the call? Again, chaos could ensue. And even worse, professional golfers may decide to stop talking to the media after a round of tournament golf in fear of saying something to incriminate themselves.

3. Is it time for the PGA to include referees to make judgment calls on the spot? I fully understand that golf is a gentlemen’s game and played with integrity. But have you looked at the Rules of Golf? It is almost impossible to know all of these rules, but professional golfers are expected to have the book memorized. Why not have officials walk with each pairing and make rules determinations on the spot?

Like almost any other sport, golf should adopt a rule that states once a player leaves the course and signs his scorecard, the score is official. There should never be a change to a score the next day. Baseball set precedent when it did not overturn the blown call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010. Commissioner Bud Selig could have easily reversed the call the next day, but he understood that mistakes are part of the game. The same should be said in golf.

And there should never, ever be a review of a play IN ANY SPORT based on a phone call from a fan sitting at home drinking a beer. C’mon golf world, you are better than that.

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

Dean Hockney is the owner/publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana, sports editor of the Kokomo Herald and public address voice of IU Kokomo athletics. His column can be found each week on the last page of the Sports Journal. You can follow Hockney on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) to stay up-to-date on sports happenings in Howard County and around Indiana.