Archive for Howard County Sports Hall of Fame

KOKOMO WILDKAT ICON TERRY DOWNHAM NAMED HELPING HAND AWARD WINNER BY STATE SPORTS JOURNALISTS

Terry Downham 1

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – Every Kokomo basketball fan knows his voice, but few know who is behind the public address microphone inside Memorial Gymnasium. Terry Downham has served as the statistician – and now announcer – for Haworth and Kokomo basketball for decades. But while his booming and distinctive voice is easily recognized, it is his work behind the scenes of Kokomo athletics that has garnered the attention of sports journalists around the state.

On Jan. 17, the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association announced its 2017 Hall of Fame class and annual award winners. This year, a familiar name will take the stage as a winner of one of the individual awards as Downham was named the Bob Williams Helping Hand Awards recipient.

“This is totally unexpected,” said Downham prior to a road trip to Huntington North to keep the scorebook for the Kats boys basketball team. “When (ISSA board member) Greg Rakestraw emailed me and asked me for a bio – it totally shocked me.”

The retired Haworth and Kokomo math teacher has been assisting those covering high school sports in Kokomo for more than 40 years and is widely regarded as the best high school sports information director in the Hoosier state.

“Terry is a God-send from a media perspective,” said Chris Lowry, radio voice of the Wildkats on WIOU. “Every week, he sends us information via email and I joke with him that he actually makes my job tougher – he sends me so much info that I have no excuse to not be prepared for a game.”

Downham first served as the statistician for Haworth in 1973 as a student teacher, but really got involved when he was hired as a full-time math teacher in the fall of 1974. He quickly became the official scorer for the Husky boys squad and was the scorer and PA announcer for the girls.

In 1984, when Kokomo and Haworth consolidated, then Athletic Director Ron Barsh bestowed the title of sports information director on the new Wildkat. Since then, he has served as the official statistician for the football and basketball programs while also providing information for other athletic programs in the school. He is the voice of the Lady Wildkats softball team and is a statistician for the Kokomo Relays and IHSAA track meets at Walter Cross Field.

Downham, who previously served as the longtime secretary of the North Central Conference and currently serves in that position with the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame, has gained fame around the state for the information he provides prior to games – especially when the Kats are in the state tournament. He regularly produces a “Media Minutes” that can be 20 to 30 pages of current stats and data along with a history of the two teams. His Media Minutes rivals some NCAA Division I programs when it comes to game-day information. In addition, he assists the KHS athletic department with its daily Kat Chatter.

“People in the North Central Conference probably know me and most of the media in the area know me, but in Southern Indiana they probably had no clue,” he said. “That is why I was surprised to get this award from a statewide organization. It is humbling.”

When asked what his favorite sport was, his coy response was, “It depends on what season it is.” But he did have some favorite memories of covering the Kats.

“That would have to be the state championships,” said Downham. “Starting with Mike Smith and the 1985 state champion baseball team; I worked closely with Mike for years. And the basketball teams that have made it to the state finals are always fun.”

Wildkat Athletic Director Jason Snyder was thrilled with Downham being selected for the award.

“This is a perfect fit for an award for Terry Downham,” said Snyder, who has worked with Downham as a player, coach and AD. Terry not only assists with getting and collecting sports information, but the research he does for us and the conference is second-to-none. Anyone who has played a game at Memorial Gym or played in a tournament game against Kokomo can attest to the unbelievable information and media packet Terry puts together.”

While a fixture at KHS, Downham is also known for working other big events around the state. He is the public address announcer for the Indiana All-Stars at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (along with other duties), is an original member of the Indianapolis Colts game-day crew in the press box, is the co-official scorer for the Kokomo Jackrabbits and has served his alma mater Purdue University on the football stat team for decades. He also assisted the namesake of his award, Bob Williams, with game-day operations at the IHSAA basketball state finals when it was played in the RCA Dome. In 2011, Downham was recognized by the Sports Journal as the first recipient of the Publishers Award for Excellence in Sports.

“With his experience working with Purdue football and the Colts, he has seen top-level, professional work, and he strives to bring that to everything we do at Kokomo,” said Snyder. “I am so blessed to have him be a part of our athletic department. Not only does he bring that information that you can rarely find, but he wants to make sure what we put out is correct and meaningful. He has a professional setup and it is done in a professional manner.”

“He has a passion for researching sports and numbers, and that stems from his tenure as a math teacher,” added Lowry. “And I love talking to him because he is just a great person; a great guy. He is one of those guys that if you need something, he would do everything in his power to make it happen. I don’t know how he has time for everything – he is retired from teaching but puts in more hours than most people with full-time jobs.”

Downham will be honored as part of the 22nd Annual ISSA Awards Banquet on April 9 at the Valle Vista Golf Club in Greenwood. Other award winners being recognized are Chuck Freeby of WHME in South Bend (Marv Bates Sportscaster of the Year), James Peters of the Times of Northwest Indiana (Corky Lamm Sportswriters of the Year) and Rex Kirts of the Bloomington Herald-Times (Ron Lemasters Lifetime Achievement Award).

The highlight of the banquet will be the induction of the ISSA Hall of Fame class of 2017, which includes: Bill Benner, former reporter/columnist for the Indianapolis Star and News; Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel; Jim Brunner of WBAT/WMRI in Marion; Dan Egierski of WEOA in Evansville; Arv Koontz of the Seymour Tribune; and the late Bob Simmers of WITZ in Jasper. The Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association was founded in 1946. The ISSA created its Hall of Fame 50 years later and currently has 105 inductees.

HOWARD COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME BANQUET IS A SELL OUT

Howard County Sports Hall of Fame - Color

KOKOMO, Ind. – The Howard County Sports Hall of Fame will induct its Class of 2016 on Oct. 29 at 5 p.m. at the Creative Financial Centre, home of the cfd Companies. The event is SOLD OUT for the first time in history.

Members of the Howard County Sports HOF class of 2016 include Jim Butcher (Kokomo High School basketball and 1955 Indiana All-Star), Jim Callane (former Kokomo athletic director and Haworth basketball coach), DeWayne Ewing (football standout at Northwestern and Butler University, Matt Johnson (three-sport star at Kokomo and Notre Dame football, Dennis Kasey (Kokomo graduate and sports director at WHMB-TV40), Mistina Oliver (Kokomo girls basketball state champion and 1993 Indiana All-Star) and Marcia Shearer (state champion swimmer at Northwestern and Indiana State University record-breaker).

This is the 14th class of inductees into the Howard County Sports HOF. Founded in 2003, the Hall of Fame has inducted 83 members with permanent plaques on display at the Kokomo Event and Conference Center.

Read more about the induction banquet in next week’s edition of the Sports Journal.

www.HowardCountySportsHOF.com

HOWARD COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES CLASS OF 2016

Howard County Sports Hall of Fame - Color

KOKOMO, Ind. – The Howard County Sports Hall of Fame, with plaques located at the Kokomo Event and Conference Center, announced its 2016 class of inductees: Jim Butcher, Jim Callane. DeWayne Ewing, Matt Johnson, Dennis Kasey, Mistina Oliver and Marcia Shearer.

“We are thrilled with this class,” said Hall of Fame President Dean Hockney. “Since founding the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, our board of directors is in continual awe of the accomplishments of each succeeding class of inductees. This year we have state champs, scoring leaders, record-breakers, and a community activist. Howard County has been blessed with outstanding sports personalities, and we are proud to tell their story.”

Jim Butcher: Played basketball at Kokomo HS from 1953-1955; Indiana All-Star his senior season and selected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary team in 1980. Set then Memorial Gym record with 34-point game. Played two seasons at Montana State, averaging 8.8 and 11.2 points per game as a guard and was No. 2 in nation with a 94-percent free throw percentage.

Jim Callane: Spent 15 seasons as a varsity basketball coach at Danville, Linton-Stockton and Haworth and 18 years as the Kokomo HS athletic director in the years following the merger of Kokomo and Haworth. As AD, five teams and 11 individuals won state championships. Responsible for major up-grades to KHS facilities, including the addition of soccer complex. Standout player at Rushville HS and DePauw University; 2008 inductee into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and 2002 DePauw Athletics Hall of Fame.

DeWayne Ewing: A three-sport star at Northwestern HS, football is what he was known for. Threw 58 touchdowns and 4,348 yards his final two seasons. At Butler University, he still holds nine records including career total offense (7,743 yards in four years), passes completed career (656) and season (246), and yards passing career (8,094) and season (3,182).

Matt Johnson: Considered one of the best all-around athletes ever at Kokomo HS. Led football team in total offense for three years; career passing leader with 3,498; won NCC title in 1987. Helped lead basketball team to IHSAA state runners-up finish in 1989 as starting guard. Helped lead Kokomo baseball team to IHSAA state runners-up finish in 1988; career batting average of .344. Walk-on at Notre Dame; back-up quarterback for two seasons; kick holder as a senior; won three major bowl games; named “Best Practice Player” by Lou Holtz. Also a member of the gold medal winning team hand ball American squad at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival.

Dennis Kasey: A 1978 graduate of Kokomo HS and lifelong Kokomo resident, he served 27 years as the sports director at WHMB-TV in Noblesville; created the High School Game of the Week which brought prep sports into Central Indiana homes each week. Also a founder of the Indiana Sports Magazine and founding board member of the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame. Earned the 2009 IHSAA Distinguished Media Services Award and was known for his sports trivia.

Mistina Oliver: Won back-to-back state championships as a leader on the Kokomo Lady Wildkats basketball teams in 1992 and 1993. She scored 1,174 points to become second Lady Kat in the 1,000 Point Club. Named to the Indiana All-Star team and left Kokomo in the top three of nearly every offensive category. Also had more than 300 career assists and steals as Kokomo posted a four-year record of 94-7.

Marcia Shearer: A trailblazer in local girls swimming, Shearer started the Northwestern HS swim program as the only swimmer in 1976-1977. She won two sectional titles her senior year in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles, and then won the IHSAA state championship in the 100 while finishing fourth in the 50. Her points total alone placed Northwestern in 15th place. At Indiana State University, she was a three-time MVP with nine individual records at graduation; 1981 ISU Female Athlete of the Year. She also participated in the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials.

“Any of this year’s seven inductees have strong enough resumes to have gone in previously, but that just shows how deep Howard County athletic history is,” said Hockney. “I am excited to hear them speak at our induction banquet in October – it is always a great evening for the sports community.”

This will be the 14th class inducted into the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame. The 14th Annual Induction Banquet is scheduled for October 29, 2016, at Creative Financial Centre, home of the cfd Companies. Tickets for the Induction Banquet will be available for $25 by calling Vice President Ron Barsh at (765) 453-4739.

Courtesy of the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame