BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – When an EF-3 tornado ripped through Howard County, Kokomo High School football coach Brett Colby knew his game plan was about to change. At 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 – a mere 52 hours before the Wildkats were set to take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to launch a new rivalry with Hamilton Heights – his team took cover at the Walter Cross Field athletic complex as the storm came within a few hundred yards of the school.
While the storm missed the school, power was knocked out and word began filtering in about the scope of damage to Kokomo. The 2015 North Central Conference Coach of the Year knew the Kats normal pregame routine was about to be altered. What he did not know was the game itself would be canceled – and that was just fine with him.
The following day, his Wildkats were out in the community clearing debris and helping the Police Athletic League, which was severely damaged by the tornado. They worked tirelessly without fanfare or accolades.
“We felt so good when we left,” said Colby. “(The team was) worn out – they had nothing to drink, no shade; I was so burnt on my head, but it didn’t matter because they worked their tails off. It was great.”
On Friday, the entire state had its eyes on the Kats because, instead of playing a game, they were joined by the Hamilton Heights football team in helping those affected by the twister.
“Why not give back?” asked the coach. “We are here to help. We are here to learn and teach life lessons. It is more than just a game of football. The adversities you need to overcome will happen to you in life. It is how you face those challenges, and how you work through them, is going to tell a lot of people about who you are. Those are things we talk about when we give back.”
For his efforts, Colby was named the Indianapolis Colts/NFL Indiana High School Football Coach of the Week, a program presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“It was truly a weekend bigger than football; humbling,” Colby added.
According to the Colts, “Coach Colby was nominated and selected for this award after rallying his team to face great adversity with servanthood. After their game had to be cancelled due to tornado damage, the team joined forces with would be opponent Hamilton Heights to help the devastated areas with clean-up relief.”
At the conclusion of the high school football season, Colby will receive a framed certificate signed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson and Colts Youth Football Commissioner Mike Prior, as well as a $1,000 donation from the NFL Foundation. In addition, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will contribute $1,000 for the school’s athletic fund.