After an electrifying inaugural season for the Kokomo BobKats, team owners Mark Jansen and Jeff Beeler have turned to a familiar face in local sports to lead the operations of the team going forward.
Sam Beckom is in as the first BobKats general manager. Beckom has worked for the Kokomo Jackrabbits since the team’s first season in 2015, starting on the entertainment team and working his way up through the years to entertainment director, to operations, to serving as the broadcast director and press box coordinator this past season. He couldn’t help but notice the noise the BobKats were making before last season, and after seeing the team, he was all in.
“That was probably number one, when I saw the team come in, from the very first day, it was like, ‘Wow, this could be really big,” Beckom said.
Home run hire
The 2009 Western High School graduate didn’t play sports in high school, but served in the marching band, still wanting to get his fix and serve his love of sports. He couldn’t stay away, and wanted to be a part of creating the experience.
Unknowingly, this would begin the makings of a career in sports for him.
When the Jackrabbits were introduced to Kokomo in 2015, Beckom said he knew a few members of the entertainment team, and he wanted to get his foot in the door of this new, exciting experience in the city.
After getting on the entertainment squad and working the season, Beckom, a natural, was welcomed back the following year and given more responsibility. He would take on the role of entertainment director, organizing the show and putting the game-day scripts together.
Beckom was off and running, still feeding his fix of sports, and creating an electric environment for the fans. But he wasn’t satisfied.
“From there I just kind of started to do more and more; from operations to this last season, I was the broadcast director and press coordinator,” Beckom said.
Though Beckom has fallen in love with the Jackrabbits and Kokomo Municipal Stadium, he couldn’t help but notice the noise the BobKats were making just down the street.
Shooting his shot
Beckom knew he had to be involved with the Kokomo BobKats, he said, and he saw the vision Beeler and Jansen were drawing up. But the BobKats were aware of Beckom’s success as well, and before last season, Beeler and Jansen approached Beckom, and he soon became the first full-time employee the owners hired. Beckom would serve as director of operations for the team.
Then the season began, and the results threw everybody off-guard in the best way, except for maybe coach Cliff Levingston. Nobody saw the BobKats leading the TBL as the league’s best team for the majority of the team’s inaugural season. In a blink, the BobKats were a splash in the community.
The team also snagged the 2021 Team Market of the Year award after leading the TBL in attendance at Kokomo Memorial Gym. After seeing Beckom work in the team’s first year, an easy decision was made, Jansen said.
“We are super excited for this opportunity to bring Sam on as general manager. Sam has proven to be a leader in his role with the Kokomo Jackrabbits and his role with the BobKats this past season,” Jansen said. “Sam has waited for this opportunity to shine, and I can’t wait to watch him lead this organization and take it to the next level. We’re excited to work with someone who is super passionate about what we are doing in Kokomo and impacting the lives of those in our community.”
Beckom said he’s excited about being out in the community more, whether it’s a BobKats booth on First Fridays, getting more involved with the high schools, or doing more for the youth in the community.
He said he’s honored to be the first general manager for Kokomo’s first professional basketball team, and will give the new role his all.
“It’s a dream come true for me. Working with the Jackrabbits for seven years, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. Mark and Jeff giving me the opportunity and believing in me is huge, and I’m looking forward to 2022 and seeing what that season brings for us,” Beckom said.
The BobKats are currently looking for next year's players, and the first tryout for next season is Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. at the Carver Community Center. Early registration is $175 and at the door is $200. Lunch will be provided by Jamie’s Soda Fountain. For more information check out the Kokomo BobKats’ social media pages.