THE DEAN’S LIST BY DEAN HOCKNEY
What an thrilling two days of sports we were able to enjoy last weekend. From Indiana and Notre Dame advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in an exciting but bracket-busting first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to the Final Four in the IHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament – Hoosier fans were treated to a memorable sports feast. And for those who are baseball fans, the Purdue Boilermakers visited Kokomo Municipal Stadium for a trio of NCAA Division 1 games against Ohio University.
But sometimes in life, sports is forced to take a back seat – and this is one of those unfortunate times. As most of you know, the Howard County Sheriff Department was struck with tragedy early Sunday morning when Deputy Carl Koontz was shot and killed while serving a search warrant in Russiaville. Sergeant Jordan Buckley was also hit in the incident, but fortunately he was treated and released. The shooter in the Sunday morning incident cowardly took his own life before SWAT team members could arrest him.
Howard County residents now start the process of coming to grips with its first law enforcement line of duty death in nearly 50 years. Deputy Koontz was a hero to many, including the Northwestern School Corporation where he served as a resource officer. At the Kokomo-Howard County Girls Basketball Tournament championships, the Lady Tigers seventh and eighth grade teams both claimed titles – and they did that while honoring Deputy Koontz. The seventh grade squad wore his 34-76 call sign on their socks while the eighth graders had black warm-up shirts with a Thin Blue Line and 34-76 emblazoned on it.
“That was the very first thing I talked to the girls about in the locker room before the game,” said an emotional Northwestern eighth grade coach Todd Miller. “Beyond basketball, the bigger picture is situations like this. It started with blue socks, then blue ribbons, then one of the mom’s secured shirts and Expressions helped us out quickly. Our whole school has rallied in different ways. I told them that basketball is secondary.”
This week, sports in Howard County will continue – but it will continue in a community with a heavy heart. Deputy Koontz died trying to serve a warrant for a drug infraction. He died trying to clean up our streets. He died keeping his community safe. And now, Kokomo and Howard County will say one final good-bye to a hero. Rest in peace Deputy Koontz, you will be missed.
Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.
Dean Hockney is the publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana, sports editor of the Kokomo Herald and the public address announcer of IU Kokomo athletics and the Kokomo Jackrabbits. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and game reports.