GREENFIELD — While training for a marathon several years ago, Kevin Horrigan had the idea to wear a pedometer at the IHSAA boys basketball state finals, where he has served as tournament director since 1994.
The device measures how far a person runs or walks and Horrigan, Greenfield-Central’s athletic director, progressed to 18 miles in his race prep before deciding that maybe he wasn’t cut out for a 26.2-mile run.
At the basketball state finals, however, Horrigan’s back-and-forth to every corner and corridor of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in making sure teams, fans and media were taken care of made for more than a marathon. Horrigan walked 27.8 miles on March 29 at the most recent hoops championship event, where a typical day for Horrigan the last two decades began around 7 a.m. and ended close to 2 a.m. the following morning.
Horrigan’s long walk as an athletic administrator – which has earned national recognition – is at an end. Horrigan, 61, submitted his letter of retirement Monday to the Greenfield Central School Board, which also approved boys soccer coach Jared Manning as new athletic director. (When Retta Livengood asked the board for a motion to approve Horrigan’s retirement at the board meeting, her fellow board members jokingly sat silent for a moment before relenting.)
“I have always told myself that I would know when the time to retire arrived,” said Horrigan, whose retirement is effective June 30. “I figured one day I would get up, look myself in the mirror and say, ‘You know, I really don’t enjoy this anymore,’ or ‘I do not want to go to work today.’ I can assure you that is not the case.”
Instead, it’s an accumulation of events that led Horrigan to end a 40-year career in education, including 29 years as an athletic director, the final 12 at G-C after previous stops at Lawrence Central and Brebeuf.
Horrigan’s mother, age 86, is facing health issues. His son is getting married next fall on one of the busiest prep sports weekends of the year. And possible changes to the teacher’s retirement fund being contemplated by the state legislature make this a good time for Horrigan to begin the next phase of his life.
“As I now look at the weight scale, it has clearly tipped to the side of retirement,” said Horrigan, who added that his love of all things athletics, specifically the interaction with student-athletes and coaches, gave him great pause. “After I typed out a letter to all my coaches announcing (the retirement), I can’t tell you how many times I hesitated to hit the send button.”
Horrigan’s presence will be missed locally and across the state. A routine Saturday for Horrigan – after a full week of routine AD duties stretching well into the evening – involves visiting two, three or four G-C athletic events, regardless of how far away the location. It’s not unusual to see Horrigan, in support of his Cougars, pop up at a seemingly random regular season event that wouldn’t necessarily require his presence.
Veteran Greenfield-Central track and field coach Jan Hacker has mixed emotions regarding Horrigan’s retirement. She is happy the Cougars’ athletics leader will be able to spend time with family while finally enjoying activities the demands of his job previously made difficult.
“However, I will miss Mr. Horrigan because he was fair and impartial in his attention to all sports, not just those that receive the most fan interest,” Hacker said. “He listened to concerns of coaches and did an excellent job of making sure all sports received supplies and whatever they needed to be competitive. You can’t imagine how much that was appreciated.
“He was very supportive at both home and away activities, which was valued by both coaches and athletes.”
Statewide, Horrigan’s reputation is renowned. He is a former president of the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Horrigan has earned multiple honors, including the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award. Twice, Horrigan served as host committee chairman for the NIAAA national conference in Indianapolis.
In addition to serving as the boys basketball state finals tourney director since 1993, Horrigan has been in charge of the finish line at the boys and girls track and field state finals since 1994.
“He puts a great face out there for our school district, even at the state level, where they depend on him for a variety of IHSAA activities,” Greenfield superintendent Linda Gellert said.
Moreover, Horrigan is a USA Track and Field certified official. The former track and cross country coach was awards chairman for the first World Indoor Track and Field Championships in 1987, the Pan American Games in 1987 and the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in 1988.
In 1996 for the Olympics in Atlanta and again for the 2012 London games, Horrigan was asked to apply for a track and field official spot. He declined because the time away from school for the Olympics and Special Olympics (officials work both events) would have taken too much time away from his school duties.
“I have known Kevin since our days as track and field coaches and our work with the (Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches) back in the 80s,” IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox said. “Kevin is one of the most professional and accomplished athletic administrators in our state.
“Throughout Kevin’s career, a driving theme behind his work has always been to give back to the young people in our state. Whether he is toiling as the athletic director at his school or in his many roles with the IHSAA or the IIAAA, Kevin’s focus is always student-centered. Kevin’s contributions to the IHSAA are both countless and most appreciated. I list Kevin as one of my true friends in this business.”
The responsibilities of an athletic director are many: scheduling, hiring, dealing with parents and overseeing the daily and nightly minutia that go into organizing what has become a year-round high school athletic environment.
With Horrigan in charge, however, Gellert, who is also retiring as superintendent, has breathed a little easier.
“Clearly, he is so dependable,” she said. “I never worry about whether things are covered. He’s respectable, approachable. I just don’t get many complaints about our programming because he’s at the helm and tends to all of the small details.
“I think the other thing that you never doubt is that he’s an advocate for youth – all youth in the county. I think we’ve been very, very lucky because he chose to wear the Cougar Blue. So we get to see that everyday; he’s just out there working it for kids in the county and state. And I think that is a great testimony to the kind of guy he is.”
A graduate of Brebeuf, Horrigan earned his bachelor’s degree at Bellarmine (Ky.) University and his masters at Butler.
He noted, “Except for ages zero to 5, I’ve never not been in a school. In my 61-plus years, 57 have somehow been in a school, either as a student, teacher or administrator.”
School is almost out for good for Horrigan. In working to provide student-athletes with the best possible experience and accompanying lessons they carried into adulthood, Horrigan has enriched countless lives.
“He worked very hard, spent a great deal of time doing his job,” said Hacker, the G-C track coach. “He will be missed.”
Even more so, the student-athletes and coaches will be missed by Horrigan.
“I do enjoy what I’m doing and I have no regrets about the career path I’ve chosen,” he said. “The decision to retire was hard because I really enjoy working with the kids and the coaches.
“It’s bittersweet. This is the end of this particular journey.”