Saturday's 12th annual Howard County Sports Hall of Fame induction offered a glimpse of the past, a nod to the millennium, and the celebration of an Emmy-nominated TV-radio personality.
As Haworth High School's first varsity boys basketball coach, Harold Cox joined alumni Greg Achors, a star swimmer, and basketball/baseball great Mike Platt to represent a strong Husky contingent in the Class of 2014.
"I think this is just terrific," Cox said. "It's a great honor. Just look at all the athletes who have been inducted. I'm just really excited about joining that group of athletes. The Class of 2014 is a terrific class."
Other inductees included a pair of young faces in 2000 Northwestern grad and basketball standout Austin Parkinson and Lashonda Davis, a 2003 Kokomo grad who was a stellar athlete in track and field as well as volleyball.
Rounding out the class was Greg Lucas, a Kokomo and Butler University grad who has worked more than 3,000 play-by-play events in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and a variety of college sports.
"Obviously, most of what I've done was not here, although I need to point out that I did hit .407 and led the team in home runs my senior year so that should be enough," Lucas joked. "Seriously, though, it's a great honor. It's great to be back here."
Cox, who also starred as a player on the basketball court for Kokomo in the early years of Memorial Gym and went on to play three years at the University of Evansville, coached Haworth from 1968-75.
"My first year at Haworth, we went 9-12," Cox said. "The next year, I had all those players back and we went 23-3 and went to the Fort Wayne Semistate and lost to Plymouth in overtime. I had good athletes."
As a Wildkat, Cox went to three semistates.
"I loved the sectional at Kokomo when all the county schools came in," Cox said. "As the small schools would get beat, they would all blend together and cheer against Kokomo, trying to create enough enthusiasm and spirit to get the small school through."
Cox had a solid career at Evansville, being named to the university's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.
"I guarded Bobby Plump for three years, in my sophomore, junior and senior seasons," Cox said. "My passion growing up was basketball, so that's pretty cool to guard someone like that."
Hall of Fame coach Joe Platt coached Cox at Kokomo. Cox went on to coach Joe's son Mike Platt at Haworth. Mike Platt had outstanding careers in both basketball and baseball at both the high school and collegiate level.
"It's been 40 years since I was in high school," Mike Platt said. "It's hard to imagine getting to this point in your life. For people to remember, it's quite humbling."
Platt was a starter under Cox in the 1971, '72 and '73 seasons as Haworth compiled a 44-26 record. He was a three-year starter on a Husky baseball squad that finished 63-21. He was a two-time all-conference selection. At Evansville, Platt was a starter for three seasons and was a two-time all-Indiana Collegiate Conference selection. He was a four-year starter at second base on the baseball squad.
Platt had high praise for Howard County's strong sports ties.
"I think Kokomo has always been a great sports community," Platt said. "People have been great supporters over the years. Look at the Jackrabbits coming in. It's a great thing to be able to have the facility we're building and have a team like that. Look at the [renovated] Kokomo football stadium. All those things are really good. I'm really proud of what's going on around here."
He was equally as happy to see Haworth so well represented.
"It's a great thing," Platt said. "We had a lot of good athletes in a short period of time and it's kind of a neat thing. It's just the start of, I think, several more that are going to come in quick."
Achors, who rounded out the Haworth showing, agreed with Platt.
"It's kind of a shame that Haworth is no longer in existence," Achors said. "It's good to see some of the past athletes get recognized because there were some tremendous teams and athletes that came from Haworth."
Achors earned three gold medals in the 1982 IHSAA State Swimming Championships, helping Haworth earn its only team state championship in school history.
"I'm flattered," Achors said of his induction. "Kokomo has had such a reputation in the area over the years of producing great athletes and just great competition and talent in any sport. To be inducted into a Hall of Fame with some of the past names, I'm truly speechless."
During his senior season, Achors was a three-time All-American, finishing with top-10 times nationally in three events. He credited his community for pushing his athletic passion.
"It was absolutely critical," Achors said. "The school system and athletics in general really catered toward top-caliber competition and training facilities. I live in Florida and you will see huge high schools that don't have a pool. Whenever I see that I always look back and think how fortunate I was to live in Kokomo where we had a pool."
Lucas also nodded to Howard County as a great athletic community.
"There are some great athletes and great writers and great broadcasters that have come through here," Lucas said. "I say it's a great honor to be part of this because I look at the list of those people and I remember so many of them. I'm truly honored to be remembered for what I've done away from here. Being able to stick to the two sports I love and get to the major league in both of them in my career is great."
Lucas spent 32 seasons doing MLB radio and television play-by-play and 13 seasons with the NBA. He excelled athletically as a high school baseball player. He said he enjoyed the way county schools have evolved into much stronger programs over time.
"When I was here, it was all Kokomo High School and county schools were county schools," Lucas said. "We're getting a greater class of athletes at all those county schools now. It shouldn't be one big dog and a bunch of little dogs. Nowadays it's real competition. I am real happy to see that. It makes for better sports. You get better athletes. You get more interest."
From his days at Northwestern, Parkinson could easily relate to that change occurring.
"My experience growing up in this area was great, being a kid in a county school but I still felt a bond with the city as well," Parkinson said. "Being from an area that is known for a lot of great and fantastic athletes and teams over the years, it's a real honor to be considered among all of those great athletes."
Parkinson is still tops in the Purple Tiger record books in most career points (1,667, 17.7 per game), assists (678, 7.2), and steals (382, 4.0). He went on to play four seasons at Purdue, appearing in 120 of 124 games in that span. In 2010, he took over the IUPUI women's basketball head-coaching position.
"It's nice to still be in the area and try to recruit local kids," Parkinson said. "Every time I'm back in town it brings back a lot of great memories. The experiences being in a county school in this area, it's something that will stick with you forever."
Davis, the youngest of the group, said she was taken by surprise with her induction.
"It was unexpected because I just graduated not too long ago and it's such a prestigious award," Davis said. "I'm just grateful that I'm able to receive it at such a young age and that the things I've done with track and field as well as volleyball has really contributed to the community and has been recognized."
With Kokomo's track team, Davis was a three-time MVP. She finished sixth in the long jump and seventh in the 100 at state her senior year. She also set the school volleyball season record with 312 kills. Her track and field success carried over to college, where she earned six Mid-America Conference championships with Miami of Ohio.
Now, back in Howard County, she is proud her two children can call Kokomo home.
"I was raised in Howard County, have had a lot of support from this area since I was young," Davis said. "The community has been so great, during my years in track as well as after that into now. I feel great about raising my children here. I had a great community and I want the same for my kids."
She'd be happy to see them make a splash in the local sports scene like their mother did.
"They are quick so you better watch out for them," she said with a laugh.