When Indianapolis Arsenal Technical High School was brought back into the fold of the North Central Conference for the 2015-2016 school year, NCC administrators were thrilled that a charter member was returning to action after a 55-year absence. In fact, the conference released a statement that read: “The addition of Arsenal Technical High School into the NCC will now allow the conference to continue to plan for divisional play and conference tournaments in nearly all sports. The goal of the NCC remains the same; bigger, better, stronger and more exciting than ever.”

Two years later, that plan has backfired.

Last weekend, Tech forfeited itself out of the NCC baseball and softball tournaments and could not field a complete squad for the NCC girls tennis tournament. On top of that, the Titans did not have a boys golf team this year. Tech, and the entire NCC, should be embarrassed. And the question must now be asked: Should Arsenal Tech be removed from the Conference of Champions?

In baseball, forfeiting a tournament game has serious consequences. Last Saturday, instead of Lafayette Jefferson playing Tech in game one, they essentially received a bye to play top-seed Richmond in the second round. That meant fourth-seeded Jeff could save its best pitchers to play the West No. 1 seed Richmond, thus taking away some of the allure and advantage of being a No. 1 seed. Unlike softball, baseball has pitch count limits, so saving a team’s best pitchers is a huge advantage – and by Tech forfeiting its first-round game, they significantly altered the seeding system of the tournament.

Similar situations hold true for softball and tennis as the teams that earned a forfeit win received additional rest going into the next round. Add in the fact that Tech fans do not travel well to other schools – thus diluting the financial gate for NCC schools – and I believe the conference has a serious issue it needs to discuss.

While the recent addition of Harrison, McCutcheon and Lafayette Jeff has indeed made the conference stronger – they are currently one, two and three in the NCC all-sports standings – Arsenal Tech has not. Statistically, they should be a strong competitor. With an IHSAA enrollment figure of 1,940 students in grades nine through 12, they are the 33rd largest high school in the state and second in the Conference (Lafayette Jeff has 2,031 students). Unfortunately, the high number of students does not relate to fielding full teams.

In the original NCC press release announcing the addition of Tech, the conference said: “Additionally, the principals and athletic directors of the NCC will continue to seek other schools for future membership into the conference, as well as remain focused on what is best for the student athletes, coaches, schools and communities of the 10 member schools in the NCC.”

I think it is time for the conference administrators to seriously look at their own statement. What happened last weekend was not what was best for its student-athletes, and it was not what was best for one of the premier conferences in the state.

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. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and in-game reports.

Posted in North Central Conference | Leave a comment


Bob Wonnell (courtesy of the IHSAA)


KOKOMO, Ind. – After twice dipping into the coach’s pool and hiring young, inexperienced high school coaches, the Kokomo Wildkats went a different route in finding the boys basketball programs 25th head coach – in fact, they chose a coach with a state championship resume.

A mere 13 days after the resignation of Matt Moore, Kokomo hired former Indianapolis Tindley head coach Bob Wonnell to lead the Kats – a move that Athletic Director Jason Snyder is thrilled with.

“He is super energetic and super passionate and has and extremely strong background,” said Snyder. “He could potentially take us to the next level. I think kids will respond to him.”

Wonnell said he was thrilled to have been offered the Kokomo position.

“I must admit, after I was offered the position, and said ‘Yes’, I made sure I was alone – and then I did a little fist pump before calling my wife, my Mom, and my son Bobby,” said the new Kats coach. “I was so thrilled to be the Kokomo High School boys’ basketball coach. I cannot wait to meet the players and get started.”

Wonnell arrives in Kokomo weeks after stepping down after leading Tindley to the IHSAA Class 1A state championship. At the time, he told Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star that, “There comes a time where you want to try something different.” Turns out, that was a jump to Class 4A and a premier program and conference in the state of Indiana.

“The passion he shows towards his players and the program and what he wants to do here at Kokomo is exciting,” said Snyder. “He referred to Kokomo as a blue chip program and he really wants to bring championships back to Kokomo. And I think he is excited about being a part of the Kokomo community.”

Wonnell coached Tindley for 10 seasons, amassing a 155-87 record. During his time leading the program, the Tigers had winning campaigns eight times and won three sectional titles. He coached Tindley during its first year as an eligible IHSAA tournament program.

“I feel the experiences at Tindley have prepared me for this wonderful opportunity at Kokomo,” said Wonnell. “I consider Kokomo a dream job. I was proud to simply receive an interview. As someone who loves the game of basketball, I was a competitor who always wanted to play at the highest level possible, and against the best players possible.  Now, I wish to coach at that highest level, and Kokomo and the North Central Conference offer me that chance to coach in the best, and most historic, conference in the state of Indiana.”

“He really developed the Tindley program,” added Snyder. “It is an academy and really focuses on education and he did a fantastic job in that environment. We are really excited about him.”

Snyder said Kokomo is getting the best candidate available despite the position being open less than two weeks.

“We were very fortunate to have some outstanding candidates that applied,” said Snyder. “They all wanted a short process because of the summer being here. So we got the interviews done quickly. If we didn’t feel this was the best fit for the basketball program, we would not have announced it today. We are very confident that Coach Wonnell is the best candidate for our program.”

Wonnell is a 1996 Beech Grove High School graduate where he played football, basketball and baseball. He went on to play basketball at Marian College for two seasons before transferring to Earlham College. Wonnell had a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in education.

After graduating from the University of Indianapolis, he was hired as an assistant coach at Cardinal Ritter for one season. He departed and spent a year at Morristown and three seasons at Arlington as an assistant before landing the Tindley job. But he is now leaving the smaller school behind and is ready to roam the sidelines of one of the most famous gyms in Indiana.

“Memorial Gym is one of the largest stages in the state, as well as one of the most historic,” said Wonnell. “What a beautiful facility. I have never coached in a gym with more than two baskets. I am looking forward to building on the history of the Kokomo program.”

Wonnell, who is licensed to teach history and physical education, has been married for 13 years to Monica, and they have three children who will enroll in the Kokomo School Corporation – Bobby (13), Rilyn (12) and Russell (4).

“I love to coach basketball at all levels and genders,” said Wonnell on his IHSAA state finals biography. “With all my free time, I enjoy spending time with my wife, kids and family, who mean more to me than anything in the world.”

Posted in Basketball, Kokomo | 1 Comment




KOKOMO, Ind. – Howard County schools hired three varsity head coaches last week in the sports of basketball and football – but it was the Western Panthers that stole the show.

Western named a pair of coaches in football and boys basketball, with the biggest shock coming on the gridiron. Western Athletic Director Josh Larsh announced that current Northwestern head coach Alex Stewart will move across the county and take the helm of the Panthers in a move that will surly spark an already fierce Hoosier Conference rivalry.

Stewart coached two seasons at Northwestern, compiling a 10-10 record. Last season, the Tigers started the campaign 5-0 before injuries slowed the teams progress. Stewart was 0-2 in sectional play with both losses coming to Class 3A powerhouse Fort Wayne Bishop Luers. He previously had coached at Richmond as the line coach. Stewart takes over for Ron Jankovich, who departed for a coaching position in Georgia.

Larsh also announced that current Greenfield-Central head coach Michael Lewis will take over the boys basketball program. During his seven-year career, Lewis has an overall record of 99-66 with one sectional championship while coaching at Delphi. He will take over for Bart Miller, who stepped down last month.

Lewis is a two-time Lafayette Journal and Courier Coach of the Year and earned the same award in Hancock County. Last season, the Cougars were 12-13 but were 20-5 in 2015-16. Lewis led Greenfield-Central to a 42-33 record in three seasons. He also spent four years at Delphi High School (47-33). Lewis will teach in the math department.

At Indiana University Kokomo, Nicole “Colie” Trawick was named the new women’s basketball coach. Trawick is currently the head coach at Massasoit Community College. She spent one season at the helm of the Warriors and finished with a record of 11-11.

The Willingboro, New Jersey, native previously ran the program at NCAA Division III College of Saint Elizabeth. She played NCAA Division I soccer at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Alex Stewart football resume

2016   Northwestern            6-4

2015   Northwestern            4-6


Michael Lewis boys basketball resume

2016-17         Greenfield-Central   12-13

2015-16         Greenfield-Central   20-5

2014-15         Greenfield-Central   10-15

2013-14         Delphi                         9-12

2012-13         Delphi                         19-6, sectional champ

2011-12         Delphi                         14-9

2010-11         Delphi                         15-6


Colie Trawick women’s basketball resume

2016-17         Head coach   Massasoit Community College      11-11

2015-16         Head coach   College of St. Elizabeth                  10-15

2014-15         Assistant        Univ of Arkansas at Monticello     

2013-14         Assistant        Central Methodist University

2012-13         Assistant        Central Methodist University

2012-13         Assistant        Rowan College at Burlington County

2011-12         Head JV         Pemberton Township HS

Posted in Basketball, Football, IU Kokomo, River States Conference, Western | Leave a comment