When asked why he applied for the boys’ basketball coaching position at Kokomo High School, Bob Wonnell answered that he considered it a “chance of a lifetime.”
“When people talk about the best college jobs – North Carolina, IU, Duke, and Kansas … on the high school level, I consider Kokomo as one of those elite jobs in the state,” Wonnell said. “Kokomo is one of the most historic programs in Indiana, as well as being one of the most storied programs. Plus, Kokomo has a community fan base that loves its basketball.”
At its regular monthly meeting Monday, May 8, the Kokomo School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved Wonnell as the new Kokomo High School boys’ basketball coach.
Wonnell, who will teach physical education at KHS, comes from a 10-year coaching stint at Charles A. Tindley High School where he built the program from the ground up and helped Tindley win the 2017 Class A State Championship after claiming three successive Sectional titles. He was named the 2016-2017 City (Indianapolis) Coach of the Year.
“I feel the experiences at Tindley have prepared me for this wonderful opportunity at Kokomo,” Wonnell said. “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.”
According to KHS Athletic Director Jason Snyder, that passion for the game of basketball and the respect for the Kokomo program were genuine, and it showed during the interview process.
“I am very excited to have Coach Wonnell leading our Wildkats’ program,” Snyder said. “His energy and enthusiasm toward his student athletes and his passion to develop them into young men was impressive, as was his passion for being part of Kokomo basketball as well as Kokomo Schools.”
That rich Kokomo boys’ basketball tradition began in 1903, and Wonnell becomes the 25th coach at the helm of the KHS Wildkats during more than 100 years of high school basketball. Kokomo owns a state record with 74 Sectional boys’ basketball titles.
When offered the job, Wonnell said that he and his wife Monica (a licensed elementary school teacher) considered the decision to be a “no brainer” after looking at all aspects – family, teaching, and coaching – of the move to Kokomo.
“The academic excellence at the Kokomo School Corporation offers so many opportunities for my family,” Wonnell said. “My middle schoolers – a son and a daughter – have every academic choice possible with IB (International Baccalaureate), STEM, and a Technology Academy at the middle school level. Then, at Kokomo High, they will have so many more opportunities with the College Prep and IB programs with all the AP (Advanced Placement) courses and an attached career center. And for our little one – 4-year-old Russell – we have several early childhood options to choose from within Kokomo Schools.
“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. I was so thrilled to be the Kokomo High School boys’ basketball coach. I cannot wait to meet the players and get started.”
Since 2007, Wonnell has served as Head Boys’ Basketball Coach for Charles A. Tindley School, where he compiled a 155-87 career record. Wonnell served as a Varsity Assistant Coach at Arlington High School, Morristown High School, and Cardinal Ritter High School before taking the Tindley job.
Snyder wished to thank all the high-level quality applicants who participated in the process.
“I was so appreciative of the professionalism and honesty displayed by the candidates for this position,” Snyder said. “We believe we have a strong group of returning players, and I am excited to watch Coach Wonnell take our Wildkats to the next level.”
Coach Wonnell also is looking forward to coaching in Memorial Gymnasium.
“Memorial Gym is one of the largest stages in the state, as well as one of the most historic,” Wonnell said. “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.”
Monday, the board also approved a 10-cent price increase for both breakfast and lunch for students as mandated by the federal government.
Also, the board approved a new Kokomo School Corporation employee health clinic administrative contract with Community Health Network (Community Howard Regional Hospital). The employee health clinic already is located at Community Howard Regional Hospital, and the location and the services provided to employees will not change.