A new face is set to lead the Kokomo High School girls’ basketball team this year.
Last Monday, the Kokomo School Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Haley Cook-Peckinpaugh, a 2014 graduate of Hamilton Heights High School. As a coach, Cook-Peckinpaugh said she’s looking forward to not only working with the high school players but also the elementary-aged girls.
“I think we really need to get going with the elementary and get them kind of interested in basketball. Once you start someone in elementary and get their skills developed and see if they really like it, then you know the coaches. You have those relationships, so I think if we can start with the youth in that aspect and get camps going, get different little trainings going for kids, I think that’s really going to help the basketball program kind of flourish,” Cook-Peckinpaugh said.
By working with the younger athletes, Cook-Peckinpaugh hoped to add a freshman team to the existing junior varsity and varsity teams, something the Lady Kats program has not had for a few years.
In the meantime, Cook-Peckinpaugh will be putting together workout packets for the players to begin working on fundamentals and improving their game on their own time. If the girls do this, the team will be ready to go when team practices begin Aug. 31, according to her.
Cook-Peckinpaugh said her goal for this year’s team is to ensure positive attitudes and unity within the team. Additionally, she hoped the team could win sectionals this season and eventually make a run to the state tournament.
“It’s not just a short run. It’s going to be really long-term. I think we have a lot of talent this year, so one of our goals is going to be to win a sectional. It’s always a good goal to have, and I think it’s very attainable,” Cook-Peckinpaugh said. “I think that with the amount of talent we have in the middle school, the freshmen class coming in, and then some of the seniority girls that we have, I think that it is 100-percent attainable to make it far into the state finals.”
After an appearance in the state championship with the Huskies against Mt. Vernon her junior season (2013), Cook-Peckinpaugh continued her athletic career at Indiana Tech earning three-time All-American, two-time First-Team Academic All-American, three-time All-Conference, two-time NAIA Scholar Athlete, and Indiana Tech Female Athlete of the Year awards. Additionally, was the conference record holder for most three-pointers in a game, season, and career when she graduated from Indiana Tech in 2018.
Following college graduation, Cook-Peckinpaugh spent a year in Bethany, W.V., at Bethany College where she served as an enrollment counselor and an assistant women’s basketball coach with focuses on recruiting, guards’ development, and game-day preparation. Before coming to Kokomo, she spent the past two seasons as a varsity assistant coach for girls’ basketball team at Noblesville High School.
As the third girls’ basketball coach for Kokomo in three years, Cook-Peckinpaugh said she and her husband plan to stay in the north-central region, and she believed she finally could bring the much-needed stability to the Lady Kats’ program.
“I have no desire, nor any plans, to leave Kokomo,” Cook-Peckinpaugh said. “Our families live in north-central Indiana. We both have long-term goals for our programs. Rebuilding the feeder program in Kokomo will take time; but at the same time, I am excited now because I know we have some outstanding young talent already playing in the Kokomo system.”
Kokomo Athletic Director Nick Sale said Cook-Peckinpaugh will be an asset to the Wildkat faculty and staff as a physical education teacher and coach.
“We’re super excited to have Haley on board as our new girls’ basketball coach and P.E. teacher. It’s rare when you find somebody with the experience that she has in terms of her playing career and coaching career at both the high school and college level. Her passion and enthusiasm that she brought throughout the interview process, I can say that with everyone that was involved, it knocked us away,” Sale said.
The Lady Kats will tip-off the season Oct. 29 in a scrimmage against Tri-Central.