BY JOSH SIGLER
---- — Jim Callane helped usher Kokomo High School athletics into a new millennium with a vision that is still being followed and built upon today.
He will now look to do the same thing in another town steeped in North Central Conference tradition: New Castle. But, it won't be at Chrysler High School.
Callane on Monday was appointed the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame's president. His two-year term begins July 1.
Wednesday's Hall of Fame golf outing at Chippendale G.C. was a celebration of sorts, as Callane was paired in the scramble with former Northwestern High School athlete and current IUPUI women's basketball coach Austin Parkinson, Hall of Fame Executive Director Chris May and Madison High school girls basketball coach Pat King, an Anderson native who played his college hoops at Butler.
"It's a tremendous honor, and I'm very respectful of high school basketball in the state of Indiana," Callane said. "There's none finer than our rich tradition, so being a small part of that is just a great feeling. Our monthly meetings are like a 'Who's Who' of Indiana basketball with our board of directors and executive committee. We all have one thing in common, and that's our love and respect for Indiana basketball."
Callane was the executive vice president of the IBHOF the last two years, and served as the organization's secretary the two years prior to that. He was the athletic director at Kokomo High School from 1987 to 2005 where he succeeded Ron Barsh, and was boys basketball coach at Haworth High School from 1976 until its close in 1984.
"Jim's been a great part of our entire organization for my entire four years here," May said. "He's a hard-working guy who's very well organized. He thinks things through very well, and so I'm looking forward to his tenure because I think, organizationally, he'll bring a lot to the table. Personally, I'm excited because he's a guy you can work with and bounce ideas off of. I think he's going to bring some new processes, new thoughts and new energy to the Hall of Fame."
As president of the board of directors, Callane will establish committees — and who will man those committees — and head up the areas of fundraising and operations.
"He has a hand in everything we'll be doing in the next two years and even onward," May said.
During Callane's time as Kokomo AD, he led the charge to renovate Memorial Gym in the 1990s, when the home of Wildkat hoops got a facelift and makeover, including new bleachers and a new floor design. Kokomo soccer facilities were overhauled in his time, and the current makeover and addition of the facilities at Walter Cross Field was Callane's brainchild.
"That, and just seeing kids come in as freshmen and mature as people and athletes and compete — not necessarily win — but compete against some of the best athletic programs in the state," Callane said when asked about what he was most proud of during his time at Kokomo.
In Callane's words, Hall of Fame outings like Wednesday's are opportunities to "Mix golf with the great heritage of Indiana basketball." Sitting in the cart beside Callane was Parkinson, a Northwestern High School and Purdue University product who had Callane's son, Jamie, as a high school tennis coach.
"Having grown up in Kokomo, when you mention the name Jim Callane, it's always carried a great deal of respect for what he's done for not just Kokomo High School, but the community," Parkinson said. "That announcement is big for the Hall of Fame."
Parkinson, a former Boilermaker point guard, just finished his third season as IUPUI's head women's coach. After leading the Jaguars to a 20-win season for the first time and their first postseason berth in 20 years, was awarded with a three-year contract extension that keeps him in Indianapolis through the 2017-18 season.
"It shows the commitment of our university," he said. "I'm grateful for that. It let's our players and recruits know where I plan to be for quite a while now."
The Jaguars went 20-12 and finished second in the Summit League regular season standings. IUPUI earned a nod to the NIT, where it fell in the first round to Illinois State 63-47 on March 21.
"You're always anxious and you always hope your kids are going to take the next step," Parkinson said. "Figuring out what it took to win — and win on the road — that was the biggest thing. I'm proud of our kids to set the school record for wins and being picked where were in the conference [preseason poll] and finishing second. I think it gives us some momentum for the future. The thing we've focused on from Day 1 is finding kids who are talented kids with high character and love basketball. If we can do that with Indiana kids and Midwest kids, that's going to create a recipe for sustained success hopefully."
Another topic fresh on the minds of those at Chippendale was New Castle's announcement that it is leaving the North Central Conference. An NCC member since 1926, New Castle in early June said it will join the Hoosier Heritage Conference, a league that includes Pendleton Heights, Greenfield, Yorktown, Mount Vernon, Delta, New Palestine and Shelbyville, for the appeal of shorter bus rides.
"Personally, it was disappointing," Callane said. "I can't speak for New Castle. I did write the superintendent [Stephen Fisher] a note. I know him very well. He's a former basketball official. A charter member, they've been there — but you make decisions based on your family, your community and your people. So, I'm a little disappointed but we'll move on, and we respect what they're doing because it's what they think is best. But, it'll always be the North Central Conference."