Downham accepts state honor
Longtime Kokomo sports information director recognized by state sports journalists
Thursday, April 13, 2017 11:53 AM
Growing up, Terry Downham knew his kids had a drug problem. He also knew he was the source of the issue, but there was nothing he could do about it except quit doing something he loved.
Herald Photo / Dean Hockney
BIG DEAL — (Left to right) Landon and Stephanie Hochstetler, Judy and Terry Downham, and Jennifer and Nathan Maifeld
On April 10, Downham was rewarded for being the main source of his children’s drug problem.
“They had serious drug problems,” Downham said of daughters Jennifer and Stephanie. “They were drug to church on Sundays. They were drug to football games in the fall, basketball games in the winter, and baseball games in the spring.”
Yes, Terry Downham loves sports, and that love follows closely behind his love of his family and God. Fortunately, it turned out his family did not really mind the imposed “drug” problem created by the family patriarch. In fact, they thrived as both daughters played softball at Bethel College.
Kokomo Wildkat basketball fans know Downham as the voice of Memorial Gymnasium, but few realize the KHS sports information director is revered around the state. At the 22nd Annual Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Induction Banquet, held at the Valle Vista Golf Club in Greenwood, Downham was honored with the Bob Williams Helping Hand Award.
The retired Haworth and Kokomo math teacher has been assisting those covering high school sports in Kokomo for more than 40 years. Prior to accepting the award, the master of ceremonies said Downham was “arguably the best sports information director in the state.”
“This is totally unexpected,” said Downham prior to the ceremony. “When (ISSA board member) Greg Rakestraw emailed me and asked me for a bio, it totally shocked me.”
Downham got his start in high school athletics as the statistician for Haworth in 1973 while serving as a student teacher. Once hired as a Haworth math teacher in the fall of 1974, he quickly became the official scorer for the Husky boys basketball squad and was the scorer and PA announcer for the girls.
In 1984, when Kokomo and Haworth consolidated, then-Athletic Director Ron Barsh bestowed the title of sports information director on the new Wildkat. Since then, he has served as the official statistician for the football and basketball programs, while also providing information for other athletic programs in the school. He is the voice of the Lady Wildkats softball and volleyball teams and is a statistician for the Kokomo Relays and IHSAA track meets at Walter Cross Field.
Downham, who previously served as the longtime secretary of the North Central Conference and currently serves in that position with the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame, has gained fame around the state for the information he provides prior to games, especially when the Kats are in the state tournament. He regularly produces a “Media Minutes” that can be 20 to 30 pages of current stats and data, along with a history of the two teams. His Media Minutes rival some NCAA Division I programs when it comes to game-day information. In addition, he assists the KHS athletic department with its daily Kat Chatter.
Chris Lowry knows first-hand the impact Downham has with local and statewide media. As the voice of the Kokomo Wildkats on WIOU, Lowry appreciates the statistics, bios, history, and records that Downham produces before, during, and immediately after games.
“Terry is a God-send from a media perspective,” Lowry. “Every week, he sends us information via email, and I joke with him that he actually makes my job tougher. He sends me so much info that I have no excuse to not be prepared for a game.”
Wildkat Athletic Director Jason Snyder was thrilled with Downham being selected for the award.
“This is a perfect fit for an award for Terry Downham,” said Snyder, who has worked with Downham as a player, coach, and AD. “Terry not only assists with getting and collecting sports information, but the research he does for us and the conference is second-to-none. Anyone who has played a game at Memorial Gym or played in a tournament game against Kokomo can attest to the unbelievable information and media packet Terry puts together.”
Downham’s work is not limited to the Wildkats. He also works other key Indiana events, such as being the voice of the Indiana All-Star series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He is also an original member of the Indianapolis Colts game-day crew in the press box, is the co-official scorer for the Kokomo Jackrabbits, and has served his alma mater Purdue University on the football stat team for decades.
“He has a passion for researching sports and numbers, and that stems from his tenure as a math teacher,” said Lowry. “And I love talking to him because he is just a great person, a great guy. He is one of those guys that if you need something, he would do everything in his power to make it happen. I don’t know how he has time for everything. He is retired from teaching but puts in more hours than most people with full-time jobs.”
At the banquet, Downham joined other ISSA award winners Chuck Freeby of WHME in South Bend (Marv Bates Sportscaster of the Year), James Peters of the Times of Northwest Indiana (Corky Lamm Sportswriters of the Year) and Rex Kirts of the Bloomington Herald-Times (Ron Lemasters Lifetime Achievement Award).
The highlight of the banquet was the induction of the ISSA Hall of Fame class of 2017, which includes: Bill Benner, former reporter/columnist for the Indianapolis Star and News; Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel; Jim Brunner of WBAT/WMRI in Marion; Dan Egierski of WEOA in Evansville; Arv Koontz of the Seymour Tribune; and the late Bob Simmers of WITZ in Jasper. The Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association was founded in 1946. The ISSA created its Hall of Fame 50 years later and currently has 105 inductees.