BY DEAN HOCKNEY
INDIANAPOLIS – There is no doubt Kyle Wade is the leader of the Kokomo Wildkat football team. But maybe more importantly, he is a leader off the field and in the classroom. For his all-around effort, Wade was named the 2017 recipient of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 5A football following the Kats 42-28 loss in the state finals.
“It is a great honor to receive,” said Wade, the son of Mike and Allison. “It feels good because my teachers really pushed me to be a student-athlete, not just an athlete.”
In the halls of Kokomo, Wade is ranked No. 11 of 325 students in the class of 2018. Aside from playing football, basketball and baseball, Wade is involved in the KHS Student Athletic Leadership team, Wildkat Varsity Club, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Students Against Destructive Decisions.
“I know there are a lot of great kids who play in this game, but in my estimation, there is nobody more deserving than Kyle Wade to get the Mental Attitude Award,” said Kokomo head coach Brett Colby. “He is also a great young man in the classroom.”
He also volunteers within the athletic department and in the community. We has spent time as a volunteer camp counselor in football, basketball and baseball and the Special Olympics Unified Football Clinic at Walter Cross Stadium. Following the tornadoes that struck Kokomo in August 2016, he joined other Wildkat athletes in assisting in clean-up efforts around the community.
On the field, Wade is a team captain and four-year starting quarterback for the Kats who has led the squad to a record of 35-13. In fact, he has never missed a start in his varsity career – his record 48 consecutive starts may never be broken and ranks among the best in state history. Along the way, the four-time All-North Central Conference performer has won a pair of conference titles, three consecutive sectional championships and the Wildkats only two regional trophies. He capped his career by leading Kokomo to its first-ever state championship game appearance and owns a Kokomo record nine tournament wins in four years.
Wade departs the program after rewriting the Kokomo quarterback record book. His career records include: Passing yards (4,150), pass completions (274), pass attempts (514) and pass touchdowns (47). He also holds single-season records in pass yards (1,694) and pass completions (113); he is tied for pass touchdowns (17). His 2017 pass completion percentage of 59.5 is the second-best ever behind Kevin Lechner’s 59.9 in 1981. He is also second-best for his career at 53.3-percent behind Lechner’s 55.1.
“He is a three-year captain as voted by his teammates. He is a two-year team mental attitude winner and will be the team MVP this year,” said Colby. “He means everything to this program and we are going to miss him for sure next year.”
Wade, a standout pitcher on the Wildkats baseball team, will attend Purdue University on a baseball scholarship next fall. He is the eight Kokomo student-athlete to earn an IHSAA Mental Attitude Award, joining Russell “Rut” Walter (1925 boys basketball), Walter McFatridge (1944 boys basketball), Jimmy Rayl (1959 boys basketball), Jamey Callane (1988 baseball), Brooke Taflinger (2000 girls swimming) and Andrew Quinnette (2007 4A baseball).
Each year the IHSAA Executive Committee selects a senior player who was nominated by his principal and coach and was determined to have best demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability. The award is named in honor of the IHSAA’s third commissioner from 1962-76.
The Indianapolis Colts presented a $1,000 scholarship to Kokomo High School in the name of Kyle Wade. The Colts have been the presenting sponsor of the entire football state tournament since 2009 and are sponsoring the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award