Herald Photo / Dean Hockney
ON PAR  — Eastern High School’s Brad Wilson works with Jacob Tucker on his swing.
Herald Photo / Dean Hockney ON PAR — Eastern High School’s Brad Wilson works with Jacob Tucker on his swing.
This is part of the monthly Kokomo Herald Hallway Heroes series. A Hallway Hero is a non-teaching school employee who impacts students’ lives outside of the classroom and in the school hallways.

Brad Wilson is not a typical Hallway Hero. He started his career at Eastern High School 42 years ago as a teacher and retired as the Comets athletic director. But in the three years since his retirement, he did not fade away; he continued to be an active part of the students’ lives at Eastern – and he has done so in and out of the public spotlight.

“He is here almost every day, and he does just about everything,” said Eastern High School Principal Dr. Keith Richie. “If he knows school is in session and there is snow on the ground, he is here just about before everyone else brushing the snow off. He paints lines on the (athletic) fields. During the girls basketball sectional, he was pushing the brooms, cleaning the floor at halftime. This is just what Brad does.”

Looking back on his retirement, Wilson said he knew he would not be gone for long. 

“This is my home. I spent 39 years here at Eastern. This is more of my home than my actual home,” he said. “My home was a place to sleep. I met my wife here 35 years ago. She is from Greentown, and we have spent untold hours in these halls.

“We have good kids here. Heck, we raised our kids here. When I went from teacher to athletic director, I felt like I was stealing money because I liked my job so much. Being athletic director was a job.”

Despite 17 years as the head of the Comets athletic department, Wilson said he regretted the move early on.

“When I got out of the classroom, the first thing I missed was the kids,” said Wilson. “I interacted with the kids so much. I had a lot of great relationships. I still get former students and athletes come back and call me ‘coach’ or ‘mister.’ I guess they respect me, and that is all you can ask for.”

The respect the students have for Wilson is evident with the staff. Richie said he is as much as part of the Greentown community as anyone in the small town.

“He is loved by the kids and the staff appreciates him,” said Richie, who recommended Wilson as a Hallway Hero. “He is well-respected by the community; he is a part of this community. He has a connection with the kids and has coached many of their parents. He coached basketball and football and golf here at Eastern and taught shop and math. This community just knows him, and he is respected by all.”

Wilson said he wanted to be a personable athletic director, one the student-athletes knew would be supportive after wins and losses.

“I always went and congratulated every kid. It didn’t make any difference what sport it was. I wanted to tell them ‘good job’ or ‘good luck,’” said Wilson. “I like to think the kids enjoyed that, knowing I was around.”

And he was not afraid to get his hands dirty. Wilson said, being a small school, a lot of times he would be out getting fields or gyms ready for a game. Or serving as the ticket taker. Or a janitor. Or trainer.

“You take care of stuff because it is for the kids,” said Wilson. “If the scoreboard didn’t work, I would fix it. If trash needed taking out, I took it out. If a field needed weed-eating, I would be out there. I wanted to show off our school and make everyone feel at home. This is a great place to work.”

Wilson has been at Eastern during the good times and bad. What was once a small-town corporate school is now an Indiana Four Star School that is ranked in the top five-percent of Hoosier high schools in terms of performance on the annual graduation qualifying exams. It is also the fastest-growing corporation in Howard County. Wilson said he takes great pride in knowing he had a small hand in that growth.

“You can’t beat this education,” he said. “Greentown has a good thing here. I had a chance to leave once. I actually took another job, but I am glad I didn’t leave. This is just a big family where everyone knows each other.”

Brad Wilson is a legend in the Eastern-Howard School Corporation. For 39 years he truly cared for the students. Now in retirement, that caring continues, and for that, he is a Kokomo Herald Hallway Hero.