Archive for January 28, 2014

KAREN FRANKLIN STEPS DOWN AS TAYLOR HS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Karen Frankli

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – In one of the busiest times in Taylor High School athletic history, the program finds itself without a leader. On Jan. 22 – just as Taylor was hosting the boys and girls Howard County basketball tournaments, rescheduling multiple events due to snow and making arrangements to switch to a new conference – Athletic Director Karen Franklin abruptly resigned her position, effective immediately.

“Karen just verbally indicated to me that it was her wish to resign effective immediately,” said Taylor Principal Eric Hartman. “She then wrote a letter indicating that and that is pretty much it.”

Hartman said Franklin’s resignation was unexpected, but he had nothing but praise for the former educator.

“It came as a surprise, but I think she is ready to move on to the next chapter of her life,” he said. “We appreciate everything she did for us. She is a very thorough and dedicated employee and we wish her nothing but the best.”

Franklin was hired as the Titans athletic director in August 2008. She arrived at Taylor following her retirement from Oregon-Davis High School, where she spent 32 years as a teacher and coach. Oregon-Davis is a small Class 1A school located in the north-central Indiana city of Hamlet. She was a health and physical education teacher, and at various times coached volleyball, gymnastics, basketball, track, cross country and swimming during her Bobcats career – as well as serving as an IHSAA basketball referee.

A Ball State graduate who hails from Daleville, Franklin moved to Kokomo three years prior to taking the Taylor position so she could be closer to her parents who lived in Delaware County. When she accepted the Taylor position, the program lacked stabilization – she was the fourth athletic director in six years.

“She inherited the athletic office when we were transitioning after a couple of AD’s,” said Hartman. “Kory Fernung was here for a long time and left. Leah Woodridge was here for three years and Heather Hord did a nice job for one year before returning to the middle school. Karen came in and did a nice job of getting things organized and streamlined in the right direction. That being said, whoever takes over for her on a permanent basis will certainly reap the benefits of a lot of hard work that Karen put in.”

Each of the three previous athletic directors moved on to larger schools or other administrative positions: Fernung (1998-2004) is now the athletic director at Tipton High School, Wooldridge (2004-2007) is the assistant principal at Franklin Community High School and Hord (2007-2008) is the Taylor Middle School principal.

Hartman said a search for a new athletic director will start in early spring with a posting for the position, but until a new AD is hired, Steve Dishon will serve as the interim. Dishon is currently a language arts teacher at Taylor.

“I speak on behalf of Taylor Middle School Principal Heather Hord when I say we are both excited to have Steve Dishon step forward and inherit the responsibilities of this position on an interim basis,” said Hartman in a press release. “Steve has proven himself to be an outstanding member of our faculty in his many other roles in his almost 11 years of service here at Taylor High School. In the classroom, he has always put children first and has been a great spokesperson for our school corporation.”

Dishon is a 1989 Kokomo High School graduate and has a long history with the Taylor athletic department. He is currently the Taylor C team basketball coach and middle school golf coach while previously serving as an assistant football and volleyball coach. He also was the academic coach of the state championship Academic Team. Hartman noted that Dishon will have the complete support of the Taylor administration.

“When it comes to supervising events, we already had a hand in it anyway,” said Hartman. “We have a strong tradition of excellence with our athletic and extracurricular programs here at Taylor High School and Middle School. We feel we will be in great shape moving forward.”

Karen Franklin was unavailable for comment for this story.

WINTER WEATHER ALTERS HOWARD COUNTY BOYS AND GIRLS HOOPS TOURNEYS

 

Howard County Championships 1

UPDATED: Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01 a.m.

Both the boys and girls Howard County basketball tournaments have experienced delays due to winter weather. All varsity games are at Taylor High School unless otherwise noted; junior varsity games are at Taylor Middle School.

BOYS VARSITY

January 17

Semi 1: Taylor 49, Eastern 41

Semi 2: Western 67, Northwestern 54

January 22 (moved to Northwestern HS)

Consolation: Northwestern 52, Eastern 32

Championship: WESTERN 76, Taylor 49

 

GIRLS VARSITY

January 22

Semi 1: Western 87, Eastern 33

Semi 2: Taylor 43, Northwestern 35

January 29

Consolation: 6:00 p.m. – Northwestern vs Eastern

Championship: 7:30 p.m. – Western vs Taylor

 

GIRLS JUNIOR VARSITY

January 22

Semi 1: Northwestern def. Taylor (score unknown)

Semi 2: Western 42, Eastern 20

January 29

Championship: 6:00 p.m. – Northwestern vs Western

 

BOYS JUNIOR VARSITY

January 17

Semi 1: Northwestern 50, Western 49

Semi 2: Taylor 50, Eastern 45 OT

Championship: NORTHWESTERN 35, Taylor 32

ATHLETIC ADMINISTATORS CONTINUE TO RESCHEDULE CONTESTS DURING A SNOWY JANUARY

Jason Snyder

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – As everyone in central Indiana knows, it snowed over the last two weeks – a lot! By some counts, Kokomo and Howard County were blanketed by more than 23 inches of the white stuff in a mere 14 day span. The kids seemed to love having an extra week tacked on to their Christmas Break, but for athletic administrators and student-athletes, it was a near nightmare.

Hundreds of athletic events were postponed or cancelled around Indiana as the state dug out of its worst snow storm in decades. At least 21 varsity sporting events were affected in Howard County, sending local athletic directors scrambling via cell phone, email and text messages to communicate with other schools. At Kokomo High School alone, 11 athletic contests were affected from freshman through varsity – including the North Central Conference diving preliminaries that were scheduled for the Wildkat pool.  But unlike most area athletic directors, Kokomo’s Jason Snyder wears a dual hat as he is also the girls basketball coach.

“It was a crazy week,” said Snyder on the days following the Jan. 5 winter storm that left 17 paralyzing inches of snow around Howard County. “But the first thing you consider is the safety of our student-athletes – whether you are a coach or athletic director or any type of educator. Everyone, including coaches, said our first objective was safety. Everyone understood. But once the streets were cleared, the bus stops just had so much snow piled on them we still couldn’t go and it wasn’t safe. By Wednesday, a lot of the students wanted to get out and wanted to get in (to the gym).”

Snyder said that while some schools have a “no school, no play” rule, Kokomo Schools do not – although the Kats still cancelled all events on the Monday and Tuesday after the snow storm. While still thinking of safety, by Wednesday teams were allowing for optional practices.

“If they couldn’t make it, or if the parents didn’t feel it was safe, then that was fine – it was just optional time in the gym,” said Snyder. “Swimming had conference meets coming up and wrestlers who are out for four or five days have weight issues (wrestlers weigh-in before each meet to qualify for weight classes), so it was nice to get (optional practices) in. It was much like after the tornadoes – safety first.”

Snyder said one of the biggest issues was making contact with other schools that had contests scheduled against the Wildkats in the days after the snow. He said his athletic staff came in to help, but with other schools also being out, it was tough to track down needed personnel.

“We came into the office basically all week to try and get games rescheduled,” said Snyder, noting that one of the big contests was the North Central Conference swim meet scheduled for Ball State University. “They did a great job getting things reorganized. We couldn’t go back to Ball State due to scheduling, so the conference could get everything moved to Purdue on another date. We worked with great people who do what is best for student-athletes no matter how many hours they put in.”

As for his Lady Wildkats, he said he was fortunate not to have a long layoff. While the boys team had nearly two weeks off between games due to cancellations, the Lady Kats played on Jan. 3, 11 and 14.

“Our team comes down to leadership and who is on the floor,” said Snyder. “Our team did a nice job of adjusting (due to the weather). It was nice having that Friday game instead of having two-and-a-half weeks off. The boys will have about two weeks off and they are adjusting in practice to stay sharp.”

And after a three-game losing streak to Class 3A No. 9 Western, Carmel and Marion, his squad seems to have turned a corner and stands 8-5.

“We wanted to come out of Christmas Break a better team and continue to improve,” he said. “I thought we have done a better job of feeling where we belong on offense. Now, we need to continue to clean up some things. We are playing much better, but our girls know we can get much better. These girls have a goal, a common theme, and they are fun to be around.”

But just as Snyder and the area took a deep breath from the snow, another four-plus inches fell on Jan. 18, causing a delay of the Howard County Boys Basketball Tournament finals. It also directly affected the Lady Kats – and they were not even playing a game. Saturday afternoon, Kokomo was en route to Illinois for a Monday morning game against Chicago Marist (54-49 victory) when they were diverted due to a serious accident on I-65 that shut down the interstate for more than 12 hours. Driving in a heavy snow, the Lady Kats took a detour and arrived in Chicago seven hours after leaving the City of Firsts.

“So ready to get to this hotel already,” said Lady Kat senior Alanis Jones via Twitter. She later added, “We are in Chicago! We are just going to go get pizza before we head to the hotel.”

Following a quick return from Chicago, the Kats play at McCutcheon on Thursday before hosting Huntington North on Friday. Snyder said, “That will be a true sectional type week where we play three great teams.”

Ask any coach and they will tell you that they want their teams prepared to be playing their best during the tournament. For the Kokomo Lady Wildkats and its AD/head coach, that is exactly where they are – despite joining the rest of central Indiana and taking a few snow days – and a long detour – away from the court.