After three distinct segments to his professional career, Steve Helmich was looking to do something different. His new role, as the the first president of the Indiana High School Athletic Association president, has stoked a fire.
“The upside potential to impact 160,000 kids is goosebump-causing,” Helmich said. “Who else can do that? I think it’s a remarkable opportunity.”
Helmich, admittedly, doesn’t know exactly where the position will take him. The IHSAA Foundation was formed in June 2015 with the charge of operating exclusively for the charitable benefits of IHSAA member schools and their athletes.
Helmich, after completing a 17-year run as president of Cathedral High School, was tabbed in October to lead the foundation. In his new role, Helmich will oversee fundraising efforts to support the foundation’s programs and the distribution of scholarships and grants.
Helmich and his assistant, Darren Stillson, are still in the process of figuring out what those programs will entail, though a student leadership program with the North Central Conference is already in the beginning stages. The objective is to raise money to create programs and projects that will be available to the 410 member schools at little or no cost.
“Most people don’t know we exist yet so they aren’t ready for me to ask them for money yet,” Helmich said. “We’re going to find out different programs are needed in different parts of the state. Evansville is different than South Bend. Knightstown is different than Northwest. Their needs are different so we’re going to have to be flexible. And I’m going to have to be a pretty darn good fund-raiser because I think we can spend a whole lot of money.”
Fundraising was one of Helmich’s primary roles at Cathedral. Prior to Cathedral, he was president of Community Education Coalition in Columbus and also was the president/CEO of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. The Richmond native and former Indiana football player also spent 12 years as a teacher and coach.
The IHSAA Foundation board of directors meets for the first time next week.
“We don’t have an all-inclusive list of the (programs) we want to do but in a way it’s pretty simple,” Helmich said. “If we can ask the simple question, ‘Does this positively impact the lives of student-athletes?’ and the answer is yes, then it’s something we should take a look at.”
>> Robinson earns volleyball honor: Cathedral senior Nia Robinson was named the Gatorade Indiana Volleyball Player of the Year for 2016-17. Robinson, a 6-2 outside hitter, led Cathedral to the Class 4A state championship with 588 kills, 252 digs and 44 blocks. She was a two-time first-team all-state honoree and a first-team MaxPreps All-American.
Robinson, a Northwestern recruit, is now eligible for the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award. Her former Cathedral teammate, Kendall White, won the state award last year.
>> Indiana shortchanged on McDonald’s All Americans?: North Central’s Kris Wilkes and former Park Tudor star Jaren Jackson Jr., now at LaLumiere, were named to the McDonald’s All American Game on Sunday night. No surprise there. Wilkes, a UCLA recruit, and Jackson, headed to Michigan State, were considered near-locks to be picked for the game, which will be played March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.
I thought the state would get at least one more — Fort Wayne Snider’s Malik Williams — on the team. The 7-foot Williams, a Louisville recruit, is averaging 23.6 points and 13.2 rebounds as a senior and is an excellent outside shooter for a player his size. Former Southport guard Paul Scruggs, a Xavier recruit now at Prolific Prep (Calif.), also figured to be in the mix.
Gary West senior Dana Evans, a Louisville recruit, was the lone in-state pick on the girls’ side.
>> Football recruiting: National Signing Day is Feb. 1, which means the race is on — even for players who have already committed. Center Grove standout Russ Yeast, the IndyStar Mr. Football runner-up, is committed to Louisville but picked up an offer from Notre Dame this week, a few days after he was offered by Oklahoma.
Carmel tight end Kurt Rafdal, a former Indiana recruit, took an official visit to Nebraska this past weekend and will take two more official visits — Iowa and LSU — in the coming two weeks. The 6-7 Rafdal has offers from all three programs.
Meanwhile, the state’s top sophomore, Warren Central receiver David Bell, was offered by Notre Dame this week. Bell, also a starter on Warren Central’s state-ranked basketball team, has additional football offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa and Syracuse.
Recruiting also has started to pick up for Ben Davis quarterback Reese Taylor, who is being recruited as an athlete. Taylor added offers from Indiana and Minnesota this week and also has an offer from Iowa.
Fishers safety R.J. Potts committed to Cincinnati this week.
>> Armstrong hits milestone: Perry Meridian girls basketball coach Mike Armstrong won his 400th game at the school when the Falcons defeated Center Grove 54-53 on Tuesday. Armstrong, in his 31st season at Perry Meridian, is eighth in wins among active girls’ basketball coaches. Mooresville’s Mark Hurt surpassed the 400-mark earlier this season.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.