Archive for May 14, 2013

DEXTER ERA ENDS FOR THE EASTERN LADY COMETS

Jeremy Dexter

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

GREENTOWN, Ind. – It is the end of an era at Eastern High School. Three months after leading the Lady Comets to an IHSAA Class 2A girls basketball state runners-up finish, head basketball coach Jeremy Dexter announced he is stepping down after accepting the position of athletic director at Churubusco Junior-Senior High School.

On May 6, Dexter was approved for the position of athletic and extracurricular director by the Smith-Green Community Schools board of school trustees during a special board meeting. Churubusco is located north of Fort Wayne; his official start date is August 1. He takes over for Andrew Wagner, who resigned effective April 30 to work for a sporting goods company.

Dexter had five successful seasons at Eastern, but none more-so than this past year when he led the Comets to Terre Haute and the Class 2A state championship game. Despite the championship game loss, the squad enjoyed its most successful season in school history with a 22-4 record, a win over Kokomo, and sectional, regional and semi-state titles.

The Lady Comets coach, who also served as Eastern’s assistant athletic director, leaves the Greentown school with a record of 75-35 (.681 winning percentage) and four consecutive winning seasons (22-4, 17-5, 15-5 and 14-8). Only his inaugural campaign in 2008-2009 resulted in a losing season at 7-13.

He will have his hands full turning a Class 2A Churubusco athletic program into champions. While the football team has enjoyed nine consecutive winning seasons (including two sectional championships), the girls basketball squad has nine consecutive losing seasons and the boys hoops program has had losing seasons in six of the last eight campaigns.

The town of Churubusco is located in Whitley County, about 16 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. It is near the headwaters of the Eel River and has a population of 1,796.

For more on Dexter’s career at Eastern, see next week’s Sports Journal.

IU KOKOMO COUGARS JOIN KENTUCKY INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Indiana University Kokomo Cougars

KOKOMO, Ind.- Indiana University Kokomo has been accepted to the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year. All Cougar athletic teams immediately will be eligible for conference championships, as well as automatic bids to the NAIA Championships.

“The campus is honored to join the KIAC,” said Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke. “It complements our entry into the NAIA and it was the next step in our campus plan to create a competitive athletic program. I know our athletes will excel and compete in this new arena.”

The KIAC is an NAIA conference, founded in 1916. With the addition of IU Kokomo, the league’s membership increases to 12 institutions this fall. The Cougars will be joining Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, Ky.), Ashbury University (Wilmore, Ky.), Berea College (Berea, Ky.), Brescia University (Owensboro, Ky.), Carlow University (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Cincinnati Christian University (Cincinnati, Ohio), IU East (Richmond, Ind.), IU Southeast (New Albany, Ind.), Midway College (Midway, Ky.), Point Park University (Pittsburgh, Pa.), and St. Louis College of Pharmacy (St. Louis, Mo.).

“The KIAC is a great fit for us considering the quality of the member schools and the stability of the conference,” said Todd Gambill, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management. “We are excited about the platform that the NAIA and the KIAC provides for us to showcase our institution and our students. We look forward to developing partnerships and rivalries with our member schools.”

The KIAC sponsors championships in 14 sports, including, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field and volleyball.

In addition, the KIAC sponsors competition in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. IU Kokomo competes in men’s and women’s cross country, women’s volleyball, and men’s basketball.

“By joining the KIAC, now we will have an opportunity to compare ourselves to conference competition at the end of the season when we are in peak shape,” said Jason VanAlstine, head men’s and women’s cross country coach. “It will be very exciting next year with many new faces, new facilities, and a new conference.”

IU Kokomo makes the move to the KIAC after having been a member of the Association of Independent Institutions for the 2012-2013 season. Visit www.kiacsports.com for more information.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

GOLDEN VOICE: JASON COLLINS IS NO HERO

THE GOLDEN VOICE WITH CHRIS LOWRY

Radio Voice of Howard County Sports

Dictionary.com defines the word “hero” as “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.”

When it comes to sports, the word “hero” is probably used way too often. We tend to admire and praise our standout athletes a bit too much for what boils down to a game. Granted, it can be an exhilarating, pulse-pounding, adrenaline-rushing game.  But in the end it is still just a game. Our athletic “heroes” certainly can have distinguished ability and are admired for their brawny deeds. One might even be able to make a case for their courage and noble qualities. However, if you compare Andrew Luck with a returning soldier who just had his legs amputated, the hero comparison for the athlete looks as silly as a fifth grade flutophone class equating themselves to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

I get the same feeling when I hear people comparing Jason Collins to Jackie Robinson.  There is no comparison.  Jason Collins is no hero.

Here is what happened after Jason Collins announced that he is the first active male gay athlete in a major U.S. sport: He was nearly universally praised; he took a congratulatory phone call from the President of the United States; Kobe Bryant Tweeted his support; Billy Jean King said she had “been praying” for a moment like this; the Boston Red Sox said Collins could throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park anytime he wanted; Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Reverend Al Sharpton all praised Collins, with Sharpton going as far as to title his article on the NBA center “Jason Collins is a hero;” and ESPN couldn’t stop gushing over the 7-foot center.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that was the hero’s welcome that awaited Jackie Robinson when he first put on the Dodger blue. But for whatever reason, media pundits across the country are using the Robinson–Collins comparison. Robinson had to be brave because his life was in danger. Collins’ announcement felt like the Fourth of July, complete with fireworks and celebration and music playing in the background.

Another part of this script that is baffling to me is that Jason Collins is not technically an active, gay NBA player. Collins is a 13-year veteran who is a free agent after a season where he averaged 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. Those are not the kind of numbers that scream out, “SIGN ME!” His twin brother Jarron hasn’t played in the Association since he retired in 2011. There is a very good chance that Jason Collins won’t be in the NBA next season because his athletic career is clearly on its downside. In fact, the only way Collins might be playing professionally next year is BECAUSE he announced he’s gay. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team with poor attendance may think a Jason Collins signing is just what they need to attract a few more fans and get a little positive media attention. If Jason Collins does not sign with a team next season, it will probably be blamed on homophobic locker rooms and not on his declining skills. If Collins’ career is over, he is no different than John Amaechi. Amaechi was a five-year NBA player who announced in 2007, after retirement, that he was gay. So unless Collins plays this year – which is no guarantee – he is simply another Amaechi, albeit with legions of admirers in the highest positions throughout the country. If anyone got discriminated against, maybe it was Amaechi and not Collins. Amaechi never fielded a call from the President nor was he ever thrust onto the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Jackie Robinson is a hero in the truest since. So are our soldiers. And then there are athletic heroes. Jon Lester, who has battled back from cancer to dominate the majors. Curt Schilling, who valiantly pitched with an ankle spewing blood. Michael Jordan, who despite being sick drained one of the most iconic shots of his career in an NBA Finals win over the Jazz. Willis Reed, limping onto the court to the delirium of Madison Square Garden. Kurt Gibson hobbling around the bases after a longball against Eckersley. Jim Abbott, who despite not having a right hand, had a distinguished major league pitching career. And Byron Leftwich being carried by his teammates down the field so he could take another snap.

So please, don’t equate Collins with a real hero or even an athletic hero. To do so cheapens the accomplishments of both groups.

(Chris Lowry is the radio voice of the Kokomo Wildkats and Howard County athletics on AM 1350 WIOU. He contributes a monthly column to the Sports Journal.)