Sept. 9 was a dark day for Kokomo, and hundreds expressed their love and support for the family of Bobby Pettigrew, following his unexpected death that morning.
Pettigrew was a coach, friend, mentor, and legend in the Kokomo community. The shot put great for the Wildkats holds the titles of 1994 IHSAA State Shot Put Champion, 1995 IHSAA State Shot Put Champion, and 1995 RCA Dome Shot Put Champion with a 66’0.5 throw to lead the nation indoors. Also an all-state football player in 1994, Pettigrew was named to the prestigious Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 list as a linebacker.
Pettigrew was inducted into the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. He was an assistant coach for Kokomo for the last two decades. The Perspective collected quotes from some past and present members of KHS, expressing their love and grief in light of his loss.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Bobby Pettigrew. Bobby was a legend for Kokomo High School on the playing field as a football and track & field athlete. But more importantly, Bobby was a coach, mentor, and friend to so many in the community. Bobby’s compassion and love for our students extended well beyond the playing field and his legacy will live on at Kokomo High School forever. Bobby will be missed by the Kokomo Wildkat family!”
- Kokomo Athletic Director Nick Sale
“Every time Bobby saw me he’d say, ‘Boogie, keep pushing and learn from mistakes. Winners make adjustments and losers make excuses!’ Then he’d ask me to race.”
- Former KHS track & field athlete Tionna Brown
“Bobby Pettigrew is a man that meant a lot to many people in the Kokomo community. To me, Bobby started out as a friend of my family, to being my coach, to being my colleague as a coach at Kokomo High School. The conversations I had with him on and off the field will be ones I carry forever. Bobby’s impact as a coach for numerous kids extended past the field or track and that should be the goal of any coach that gives back.”
- Former KHS football coach Drew Durham
“Bobby was an all-around good dude. I’ll forever remember him for the days back in high school of him being the ‘cool’ coach. Seeing him stroll through the hallways in his different jerseys and stocking cap, our days of hooping together at the local parks, his appreciation for when I used to come workout with his football team during my off-seasons, and for his commitment to support and be there for as many people that crossed his path as possible. We have both been committed to bringing positivity to the Kokomo community, and I have no doubt in my mind that he was beyond proud of me and that he knew I always had the utmost respect for him through it all. Love you, Bobby, you will be missed!”
- Former KHS basketball player Brandon Wood
“Big Bob was a special, special athlete, but an even better coach and mentor to many. He was in the ears of many young athletes including my own, challenging us to be the best person, player, and teammate we could be. He played a huge role in the success of Kokomo football and made a huge impact on my life. A Wildkat through and through, he will be missed dearly.” - Former KHS baseball player Kyle Wade
“I met Bobby my first year at Kokomo. We’ve been close ever since. His commitment to the youth and teenage kids in our city has been a constant. Never missing a football youth camp, coaching high school sports, his involvement in the P.A.L. leagues, church, and even starting up a city-wide picnic are all his legacies. He loved the city of Kokomo and Kokomo schools. He carried his pride on his chest and never backed down from insisting Kokomo was a special place with special people. And he is one of the finest!”
- Former KHS football coach Brett Colby
“He was a great guy and very well-received all throughout the community and will be extremely missed. He was a great athlete obviously. He didn’t really talk much about his stuff, he was very humble in that aspect for how good of an athlete he was. He loved football. He was a huge mentor. He was the type of guy that, you know, if somebody gets in trouble or somebody gets yelled at, he just puts his arm around your shoulder and he just talks to you. If you got to experience a talk from Coach Pettigrew, you were blessed. He had a huge heart for everybody in Kokomo and, really, everybody in general.”
- KHS Head Coach Austin Colby said.
“Bobby Pettigrew was a valued member of Kokomo Athletics. Not only state champ, he is a longtime assistant football and track coach and has helped many other programs - and more importantly student-athletes - along the way. He was more than a coach - he was a fan and friend.”
- KHS Sports Information Director Dean Hockney
“Our prayers, condolences, and sympathies are with our Kokomo Wildkat family as they mourn the passing of Coach Bobby Pettigrew. Truly a KHS legend!”
- Tweet from North Central Conference Athletes