BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. - It is not often that Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame member Jim Callane is surprised. But at a recent Kokomo School Corporation Board of Trustees meeting, the legendary player, coach and athletic administrator was nearly speechless as the corporation presented him with a public resolution to honor his service to the Hall of Fame. In June, Callane, a long-time IBHOF board member, started a two-year term as president.
“I truly appreciate the gesture,” said Callane. “This was unexpected and I thank the school board. I consider it an honor to represent Kokomo and I am looking forward to it.”
Kokomo Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald has seen Callane in action first hand as the honoree is also a member and past president of the Kokomo school board.
“To have someone like Jim Callane, who represents our school community in such a bright light, is outstanding,” said Hauswald. “We are really pleased that the president of a state organization is from right here in Kokomo.”
Callane, who was elected to the IBHOF in 2008, is a 1960 graduate of Rushville High School and a 1964 DePauw University graduate, having played basketball under Hall of Fame coaches Les Ray (Rushville) and Elmer McCall (DePauw). A former head coach at Danville, Linton and Haworth High Schools, Callane spent 18 years as athletic director at Kokomo High School and resides in Kokomo.
“With Haworth and Kokomo, there is a great tradition in basketball and athletics – especially in the North Central Conference,” said Callane. “(Kokomo is) very highly respected around the state and that makes it easy to speak about our great city in my new capacity.”
Current school board president Joe Dunbar, who taught with Callane in the school system before both retired, is a big supporter of the former athletic director. He credits Callane’s vision for athletics as a key part of the current revitalization of the KHS sports facilities.
“We should note that Jim Callane is Mr. Athletics around Kokomo, and has been for many years,” said Dunbar. “It is his passion to see the football field come alive, plus all of the other improvements that are happening at Memorial Gym and with our athletic teams – and now he is carrying that to the state level. We appreciate that and know he is carrying the flag for Kokomo.”
Callane’s hard work and vision is not only seen in Kokomo, but also at the Hall of Fame in New Castle – which sits in the shadow of another NCC basketball palace at New Castle High School.
“Jim is a hard-working guy who is very well organized,” said HOF Executive Director Chris May. “Jim will bring a lot to the table. We look forward to Jim bringing new processes, new thoughts, and new energy to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.”
Callane is not only a cheerleader for Kokomo, but in his new position he is leading the way for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Even as he was being recognized by the Kokomo school board, he was touting the museum he has come to love.
“If you have never visited the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle, I highly encourage a trip – you could spend hours there,” he told the board and audience members. “There is 14,000 square feet of basketball related displays, and Kokomo is well represented at the Hall of Fame.”
Callane’s reach has been felt not only in Kokomo, but throughout Hoosierland – and the Kokomo school board recognized his efforts with the following resolution.
“The Kokomo School Corporation does hereby express the sincere appreciation for the school community to board member James Callane for his commitment to the student-athletes, both at the Kokomo School Corporation and throughout the state of Indiana.”
Jim Callane is not only an asset to the city of Kokomo, but also to an entire state known for a game played in the hardwood temples of Hoosier Hysteria.
(This story first appeared in the Indiana Basketball History Magazine, a publication of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle. For more information on the Hall of Fame call 765-529-1891 or visit www.hoopshall.com.)