By PEDRO VELAZCO KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — The Western school board on Tuesday night approved Josh Larsh as the school’s new athletic director, handing him the reins of the Panther programs.
“I’m very excited just for the opportunity to lead an athletic program of Western’s caliber. [This] is obviously a big opportunity in my life and I look forward to try and take Western’s athletics to the next level,” Larsh said.
“My dad was a high school principal for many years. I always wanted to be either an athletic director or head basketball coach. The opportunity for athletic director presented itself and I went down that avenue.”
Larsh is a 1998 Clinton Prairie graduate who then graduated college from Purdue. His father, David, now retired, was the principal at Clinton Prairie. While at Purdue, Larsh was the head student manager for the men’s basketball program under former coach Gene Keady.
Larsh was picked from a candidate pool of approximately 60 applicants. Five candidates were interviewed.
“Josh, first of all, has been at Western the last couple years and has coached a variety of sports,” Western principal Rick Davis said. “He’s also passionate about Western and has a vision for its future.
“I think a lot of [his vision] has to do with building the sense of community and to have Western represent itself well at all times on and off the court. Beyond that, recognizing that the student-athlete has an important role in the community and [we] want to maximize that role.”
Larsh’s ideas resonated with Davis.
“My overall goal is to build a Western athletic family,” Larsh said. “It’s a family atmosphere, something I picked up from coach Keady at Purdue.
“My hope is we can build kids through education and character and obviously athletics and that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. If they have a rewarding experience in high school, then after college they’d be more apt to help out with the athletes we have.”
Included in his plan are a student advisory council on leadership training and reaching out to long-time Western fans to strengthen the community aspect of the school’s sports programs.
The new AD leaves his teaching post at Western to assume his new job duties, which begin today. He taught social studies and U.S. history at the high school. Larsh taught two years at Benton Central and has been at Western the last seven years. He’s been an assistant for the boys basketball and baseball squads, and coached track and volleyball in the middle school.
He’s expected to hit the ground running, with the aid of former AD Ryan Berryman, who stepped down at the end of the last school year but is still at the school.
“First of all, we need a boys tennis coach, that’ll be important,” Larsh said. “Mainly [my duties are] making sure that our fall sports are where they need to be to compete. They start here in a couple weeks with practice. I look forward to learning from Ryan Berryman, a close friend of mine, lean on him for support.
“Ryan and I have talked a few times here in the last couple weeks about the transition. One thing about Ryan is he has Western’s best interest in mind. He offered to help with anything he can.”
Larsh isn’t jumping in without a background in what he’s doing. Davis stressed that Larsh has been “as involved as any teacher can be involved” in supervising sporting events throughout the school year.
“We’re really excited to bring somebody in who is also a Panther to his heart and is proud to be a part of Western athletics, knows what it’s about and is ready to get the kids to the next level in all that we do,” Davis said.